"Like a Virgin" is a song recorded by American singer Madonna for her second studio album Like a Virgin (1984). It was released on October 31, 1984, by the Sire label as the album's lead single. The song was written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, and produced by Nile Rodgers; Steinberg said that the song was inspired by his personal experiences of romance. "Like a Virgin" was chosen for Madonna by Michael Ostin of Warner Bros. Records after listening to a demo sung by Kelly. However, Rodgers initially felt that the song did not have a sufficient hook and was not suitable for Madonna, but subsequently changed his opinion after the hook was stuck in his mind.
Musically, "Like a Virgin" is a dance-oriented song, composed of two hooks. Madonna's voice is heard in a high register while a continuous arrangement of drums are heard along the bassline. The lyrics of the song are ambiguous and consist of hidden innuendo, interpreted in different ways. "Like a Virgin" received positive reviews from contemporary as well as past critics, who frequently called it as one of the defining songs for Madonna. It topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United States while reaching top five in Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom as well as the top ten in Austria, France, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.
The song's music video portrayed Madonna sailing down the canals of Venice in a gondola, as well as roaming around a palace wearing a white wedding dress. With the video, scholars noted Madonna's portrayal of a sexually independent woman, similarity of a man wearing lion's mask to that of Saint Mark, and the link between the eroticism in the video and the vitality of Venice. Madonna has performed the song in seven of her concert tours. Most of the time, her performances of "Like a Virgin" were associated with strong reaction and uproar from the media.
"Like a Virgin" has been covered by a number of artists and has appeared in or been referenced in feature films such as Reservoir Dogs, Moulin Rouge! and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Family groups sought to ban it as they believed the song promoted sex without marriage. On the other hand, Madonna's public persona of an indomitable, sexually unashamed, supremely confident woman was widely accepted by the younger generation who emulated her style and fashion. Scholars have credited "Like a Virgin" as the song which cemented her position as a pop culture icon.