Madonna, "Dress You Up"
Proposed PMRC Rating: Profane or sexually explicit
Explicit Lyrics: "Gonna dress you up in my love/All over your body"
Madonna Then: Thanks to MTV saturation and natural confidence, Madonna became a megastar almost immediately. By the time of the Senate hearing, Madonna's self-titled 1983 debut had gone double-platinum and her sophomore effort, 1985's little-record-that-could called Like a Virgin, was quintuple-platinum. She even had a gold home video. But the committee's selection of "Dress You Up," a single that's largely innocuous by Madonna standards (it's on an album called Like a Virgin!), seemed curious. Funnier still, the tune was written by what a local news report at the time described as "two New Jersey housewives."
What She Said Then: "I couldn’t be a success without also being a sex symbol," Madonna told Spin in 1985. "I'm sexy. How can I avoid it? That's the essence of me. I would have to have a bag over my head and over my body; but then my voice would come across, and it's sexy."
After the PMRC: The singer's inclusion on the Filthy 15 had no bearing whatsoever on her career. She sang about the joys of sex and female empowerment, and she branched out into the world of acting, appearing in Who's That Girl? In a surprising about-face, Tipper Gore even praised the singer's teen-mom drama "Papa, Don't Preach" in 1986 because, she told The New York Times, the tune "speaks to the fact that there's got to be more support and more communication in families about this problem, and anything that fosters that I applaud." Madonna put out her 13th album, Rebel Heart, this past March, and is currently supporting it on tour.
What She Says Now: "I like to provoke; it's in my DNA," Madonna wrote in a 2013 Bazaar op-ed. "But nine times out of 10, there's a reason for it."