Dress You Up

Album: Like A Virgin (1984)
Charted: 5 5

Songfacts®:

  • This was the fourth and final single from Like A Virgin, and the song helped establish Madonna as a sex symbol and fashion icon. With lyrics about "velvet kisses" and "the silky touch of my caresses," it was a harmlessly coy, radio-friendly single packaged nicely by producer Nile Rodgers, who also played the guitar solo.
  • Despite the rather benign lyrical content, the Parents Music Resource Center named this as one of their "Filthy 15" songs with objectionable content (sex). The PMRC was an organization formed by the wives of some powerful US politicians in 1985 who led the effort to put labels on music that is sold with sexual or violent content. Madonna in particular was a target for one of the founders of the group, Susan Baker, who was married to Treasury Secretary James Baker. She was aghast when her 7-year-old daughter asked her what a virgin was after listening to "Like A Virgin," which prompted Baker to take action.
  • This song was written by a very obscure songwriting tandem: Andrea LaRusso and Peggy Stanziale. They were living in the suburbs of New Jersey (Caldwell and Llewellyn Park, respectively) when they wrote this song and pitched it to Madonna's record label. This tactic rarely works, but somehow Madonna heard the song and decided to record it.

    Caldwell, who wrote the music, and Stanziale, the lyricist, were both raising kids while writing songs together. They were shocked when Madonna herself called with the good news.

    The pair wrote other songs, but very few were recorded. The pop singer Alisha did their song "Boys Will Be Boys," also in 1985.
  • The video kept it simple, as there were a lot of demands on Madonna's time by this point. It was a performance video taken from her Like A Virgin tour, where this was the first song in the set.
  • The song was originally copyrighted as "Gonna Dress You Up In My Love."
  • Like many early Madonna songs, this used a LinnDrum drum machine, which was one of the first programable units to sample actual drum sounds. Jimmy Bralower did the programming and also added Simmons electronic drums to fill it out.

Comments: 5

  • John from Portland Like a lot of Madonna songs, there is a subtext that comes out of fetish. In this case, crisscrossing. It was a way to produce dance pop that played both in the mainstream and in the NYC dance clubs where she started her career.
  • Leo from Westminster 1, MdFinal single from the lady's First/Virgin period-in Dress You Up, Madonna faced a little bit of a problem-Sure, the Sex was still there and it became her trademark as the years went on for a good while-but with all the wild hair, makeup, jewelry and wannabe following, even I wasn't quite a fan yet! She already had two things going for her-the second of Maddy's guitar songs and it was the first time La Ciccone's quasi-British accent showed in her Detroit voice-it would become a hallmark of later Madonna songs Love Tried to Welcome Me, Don't Cry for Me Argentina, Skin, I Deserve It and Nothing Fails. Yet Dress You Up was a classic Madge case of "You Haven't Seen the Real Me Yet!" To have staying power, it was time for Madonna to get serious-or else! It was as simple as that! To solve her problem, Madonna looked in the mirror and didn't like what she'd become, The next day, Madonna wrote and sang Live to Tell and the rest is history. Madonna had reinvented herself as a brilliant singer and songwriter-Miss Ciccone never again looked back. What do I think of Dress You Up in the Future Tense? Still a good early dance/pop/rock song-again, not one of my Madonna favorites.
  • Kevin from Mobile, AlGreat song. If you listen closely, you can hear in your right earphone that the guitar in the chorus sounds like "Billie Jean".
  • Marcus from Houston, TxMy favorite Madonna song. Actually, all her best stuff was from the 80's. Everything else was bad or mediocre from then on.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnThe coolest song on Like a Virgin, there is nothing dirty about the lyrics - it's a cute love song.
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