Why Madonna's 1984 VMAs performance led manager to claim 'career was over'

Yasmine Leung August 12, 2022
Why Madonna's 1984 VMAs performance led manager to claim 'career was over'

Madonna has sold more than 400 million records but her manager once declared her career was “over” after her 1984 performance of Like A Virgin.

To mark the 40th anniversary of her recording career, Madonna has released Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones, as part of her multi-year reissue campaign with Warner. Starting with 1983’s Holiday, the career-spanning compilation honors her achievement of a record 50 number ones on Billboard’s Dance Club chart, the most number ones of any artist on Billboard.

Her provocative performances and fashion in the Eighties established her as a global star, but Madonna’s manager was once convinced her career was “over” following a scandalous stage appearance.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for dcp

Madonna accidentally exposed her butt at 1984 MTV VMAs

Like A Virgin served as the lead single from her second album of the same name, although that wasn’t the original plan. Talking to Jimmy Fallon, the Queen Of Pop admitted producer Nile Rodgers intended Material Girl to be the big hit.

To this day, Madonna is still clueless as to why they selected Like A Virgin because it was “quite controversial.” Singing about sexual encounters was taboo at the time, but it didn’t stop there. Her 1984 VMA performance (watch the video below) saw the pop star rolling on the floor and thrusting, movements deemed inappropriate for a televised awards show.

The then 26-year-old also accidentally revealed “half a butt cheek.”

“I walked down these very steep stairs and I got to the bottom and my white stiletto pumps fell off,” she recounted on The Tonight Show. “I was trying to do this smooth move, like, dive for the shoe and make it look like it was choreography, and my dress flipped up.”

Madonna continued: “My butt was showing. Those were the days when you shouldn’t show your butt to have a career. I didn’t even know my butt was showing. It wasn’t even the whole butt.”

As if that wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, her manager told her backstage that her career was over – but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

She badgered DJs until they played her cassette

The Like A Prayer singer frequented New York City nightclub Danceteria in the Eighties and, thanks to her determination, managed to kick-start her music career.

Madonna relentlessly asked DJs at the club to play her cassette to the point they’d “run away” from her. Record producer Mark Kamins eventually played Everybody, and the crowd went wild.

“It blew my mind,” she recounted. “I mean, seriously, that was everything to me.” 14 albums later, the Queen Of Pop remains a force to be reckoned with.

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.