Critical reception

Like a Prayer received critical acclaim upon its release.[23][24][25] Madonna was commended for her autobiographical songwriting, as well as her improved vocals.[10][14] J. D. Considine in an April 1989 review in Rolling Stone felt that her fame up to that point had been built more on “image than artistry”, but that with Like a Prayer Madonna was asking, successfully, to be taken seriously, and that the album is “as close to art as pop music gets … proof not only that Madonna should be taken seriously as an artist but that hers is one of the most compelling voices of the Eighties.”[7] Considine also said the tracks “are stunning in their breadth and achievement.”[7] Lloyd Bradley of Q said, “musically it’s varied, unexpected and far from instantly accessible; lyrically, it’s moving, intelligent and candid.”[20] Robert Christgau awarded the album a B+. He felt that “the declaration of filial independence and the recommendation of romantic independence [are] challenging, thrilling—and they’ll get more thrilling.”[21]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic stated that Like a Prayer is Madonna’s “most explicit attempt at a major artistic statement”; and that though she is trying to be “serious” Madonna delivers a range of well-written pop songs, making the album her “best and most consistent.”[17] Sal Cinquemani in Slant Magazine described the album as “a collection of pop confections layered with live instrumentation, sophisticated arrangements, deeply felt lyrics, and a stronger, more assured vocal.”[14] The review concluded by declaring Like a Prayer “one of the quintessential pop albums of all time.[14] Peter Piatkowski from Yahoo! declared it “Madonna’s most accomplished and ambitious album of her career”, writing that “every song works—there is no filler and she performs beautifully.”[22]