"Like a Prayer" is a song recorded by American singer Madonna. It is the titular track from her fourth studio album Like a Prayer (1989). Sire Records released it as the lead single from the album on March 3, 1989. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, "Like a Prayer" denoted a more artistic and personal approach to songwriting for Madonna, who felt she needed to cater more to her adult audience.
"Like a Prayer" is a pop rock song with elements of gospel music. A choir provides background vocals that heighten the song's spiritual nature, and a rock guitar keeps the music dark and mysterious. Madonna introduced liturgical words in the lyrics—inspired by her Catholic upbringing—but changed the context in which they were used. They have dual meanings of sexual innuendo and religion. "Like a Prayer" was acclaimed by critics, and was a commercial success. It was Madonna's seventh number-one single on the United States' Billboard Hot 100, and topped the singles charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and other countries.
The music video, directed by Mary Lambert, portrays Madonna as a witness to a murder of a white girl by white supremacists. While a black man is arrested for the murder, Madonna hides in a church for safety seeking strength to go forth as a witness. The clip depicts Catholic symbols such as stigmata, Ku Klux Klan-style cross burning, and a dream about kissing a black saint. After its release, the Vatican condemned the video, while family and religious groups protested its broadcast. They boycotted products by soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, which used the song for a commercial. Madonna's contract with Pepsi was then canceled, although she was allowed to retain her initial fee.
It was ranked sixth on Blender magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born", while Rolling Stone included it in their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", at number 300.
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