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Janet Jackson, ‘Rhythm Nation’ vs. Madonna, ‘Like a Virgin’ – Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era [Round 1]

Janet Jackson Madonna
Tim Roney/ Michael Putland, Getty Images

UPDATE: Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ won in Round 1! Vote for ‘Like a Virgin’ in Round 2 of the competition here.

Welcome to March Music Madness! Here at PopCrush, we’ve selected 32 of the most iconic pop songs released from the ’80s to today (divided into brackets by decade) — and now it’s your job to vote and decide which song will be named the Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era. May the best song win!

With March Music Madness upon us, it is up to you, PopCrushers, to pick the Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era. Now in contention: Two of the fiercest female rivals of the 1980s (and well beyond), Janet Jackson and Madonna! Competition between the chart-topping music icons dates back three decades and still flares up from time to time. There doesn’t seem to be room for more than one dancing queen in this tournament, so let’s have these — vastly different — signature songs slug it out for the title.

With 1989′s ‘Rhythm Nation,’ Janet took firm control of the charts. The industrial dance-pop track was the second of what was to be a record-breaking seven Top 5 singles from one album, in this case her ‘Rhythm Nation 1814.’ The militant sound of the song was complimented by her military uniform in its now-legendary video. The clip’s black-and-white images underscored the serious nature of the lyrical content, promoting the idea of racial harmony.

In stark contrast, Madonna’s seminal ‘Like a Virgin’ couldn’t be more playful and light. The sexual innuendo that sparks the song was portrayed without any innuendo at all in its official music video, showing Madge prowling Venice, Italy, like the sex kitten she is. Her MTV VMAs performance of ‘Like a Virgin’ clad in a wedding gown still gets talked about today. The 1984 single became her first No. 1 hit, and it certainly wouldn’t be her last.

You tell us, PopCrushers: Which dance track moves you more — Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ or Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’? Let us know below! You can vote once an hour until the polls close at 12PM ET on March 11. The winner of this round will move on to Round 2 of our Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era bracket.

Next: 'Livin' on a Prayer' vs. 'With or Without You' - Vote!

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