Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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Like a Prayer



The intimate work of a pop sensation emerging from tabloid hell fully reborn.

From the gospel ecstasy of its chart-topping title track—and its controversial accompanying video, which mixed religion, racism, and interracial desire as only Madonna could—Like a Prayer is the work of a pop sensation who’s made it through tabloid hell and has come out of the experience reborn as a true-blue artist. And while there’s only an occasional reference to her then-recent split with husband Sean Penn—most notably on the dizzying synth-pop bop “Till Death Do Us Part”—the album finds Madonna making the personal stuff about her and not her ex.

That means digging into her family trauma on “Promise to Try,” a heartfelt reflection on her mother’s death, and “Oh Father,” which takes a tough yet tender look at her daddy issues. Then there’s the massive “Express Yourself”—anthemic, affirming, and undeniably powerful, the song is nothing short of Madonna’s “Respect” and the perfect manifesto of her inescapable cultural dominance.