While I would never dream of being jerky enough to deny the pleasure of Madonna’s best singles, I think we can all agree that her career’s wheat has got some serious chaff. Accordingly, earlier tracks that I’d heard from the “art rockers cover Madonna comp,” Through the Wilderness, were hard to properly evaluate. I mean, Annie Hardy mews through “Oh Father” at the best of her abilities, but it wasn’t enough for Giant Drag to save a sub par composition. With “Like a Prayer,” generally considered Madge’s finest song, there are no excuses.
Becky Stark and Lavender Diamond are an interesting choice to handle “Like a Prayer,” as Becky’s wholesome, virginal image is a direct opposite to Madonna’s racy provocateur. The cover is actually instructional, showing us how much her memorable sexual Catholic iconography and cult of personality instigated the implied dirtiness and outraged response. Without all of that baggage, this pretty piano lead reading could almost slip into a Christian radio broadcast. That’s not a slam, at all, as I think this interpretation has some particularly neat arrangement tricks. The modest pocket choir that springs up on command is especially effective. It’s just that a song like this could actually use some subtext. Madonna’s insinuations, now clarified as surprisingly subtle in retrospect, add a dimension far beyond pious or even pretty.