Happy Anniversary: Madonna, “Dress You Up”

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Thursday, July 24, 2014
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Happy Anniversary
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Happy Anniversary: Madonna, “Dress You Up”

29 years ago today, Madonna released what would prove to be the final single from her Like a Virgin album, and while some at the time might’ve argued that it was merely a case of milking the last ounce of commercial worth out of the seven-month-old album, Sire Records got the last laugh when the song went on to be the singer’s sixth consecutive top-five single in America.

Written by Andrea LaRusso and Peggy Stanziale, “Dress You Up” was the last track to be included on Like a Virgin, and it almost didn’t make the cut at all, as LaRusso and Stanziale – who had other projects going on at the time and clearly had no way of knowing how huge the album would ultimately end up being – took longer than intended to finish the lyrics. Although producer Nile Rodgers was ready to set the song aside, Madonna liked the lyrics and pressed for the song’s inclusion.

As it turned out, the lyrics – specifically, the opening line of the chorus (“Gonna dress you up in my love”) – provided the song with a moment of notoriety, earning “Dress You Up” a place on the PMRC’s so-called “Filthy Fifteen” list. Tipper Gore, the founder of the Parents Resource Music Center, said that the aforementioned line exemplified what she described as “vulgar music,” observing later that “popular culture is morally bankrupt, flagrantly licentious, and utterly materialistic…and Madonna is the worst of all.”

If you’re a Madonna purist, then we understand if you live and die by the original Like a Virgin album version of the track, but as we’re celebrating the release of the single, we’re spotlighting the single version of the song that appears on Madonna’s best-of collection, Celebration. It’s still as infectious now as it was when the song first hit radio, and if you don’t think it fills dance floors just as well as it approaches its 30th birthday, just try it and see. (Just be sure you’re not standing in anyone’s way when the song starts: you don’t want to get caught up in the stampede.)