Like a Virgin is the second studio album by American singer and songwriter Madonna, released on November 12, 1984, by Sire Records. Following the success of her self-titled debut album, Madonna wanted to become the record producer of her next album. However, her label was not ready to give her the artistic freedom and she chose Nile Rodgers instead to produce the album due to his work with David Bowie. Madonna wrote six songs on the record, five of which feature Steve Bray as a co-writer. The album was recorded at Power Station Studio in New York at a quick pace. Rodgers enlisted the help of his former Chic bandmates Bernard Edwards, who was the bassist, and Tony Thompson, who played drums. Jason Corsaro, the record's audio engineer, persuaded Rodgers to use digital recording, a new technique introduced at that time.
The album's photographs were shot by Steven Meisel. Madonna wanted the album title and the cover image to make provocative link between her own religious name Madonna, as the Roman Catholic title for Jesus' mother Mary, and the Christian concept of the virgin birth. While not a substantial musical departure from Madonna's first album, she felt that the material from Like a Virgin was stronger. After its release, Like a Virgin received mixed reviews from music critics, but was a commercial success. It became Madonna's first number one album on the Billboard 200 and set the record as the first female album in history to sell over five million copies in the United States. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) later certified it diamond for shipment of ten million units. It also reached number one in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom, and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time with sales of over 21 million copies worldwide.
Five singles were released from the album, including Madonna's first US number-one "Like a Virgin" and her first UK number-one "Into the Groove". To promote the album, she embarked on The Virgin Tour, which had shows in cities of North America only. Like a Virgin has attained significance as a cultural artifact of the 1980s. Madonna proved that she was not a one-hit wonder and was able to provide herself with a permanent footing in the music world. Her songs became a lightning rod for both criticism by conservatives and imitation by the younger female population, especially "Material Girl" and "Like a Virgin". According to author J. Randy Taraborrelli, "Every important artist has at least one album in his or her career whose critical and commercial success becomes the artist's magic moment; for Madonna, Like a Virgin was just such a defining moment."