“Cherish” is a song by American singer Madonna from her fourth studio album, Like a Prayer (1989). It was written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, and was released by Sire Records as the album’s third single on August 1, 1989. “Cherish” was built around the themes of love and relationship, with William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet being one of the major inspirations. The track also included a line from “Cherish” by the 1960s band The Association. Musically constructed as a doo-wop-style pop song, it is regarded as a light-hearted track by critics and includes instruments such as a drum machine, percussions, keyboards and a saxophone. Lyrically, it speaks of Madonna’s devotion to her lover, and her promise to be always by his side. “Cherish” was included on Madonna’s greatest hits compilations, The Immaculate Collection (1990) and Celebration (2009).
After its release, the song received positive feedback from reviewers, who were surprised by the change of content and the lighter image of Madonna’s music in contrast to her previous singles from Like a Prayer, which incorporated themes such as religion and sexuality. They compared certain lyrics of the song to words spoken by Juliet in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. “Cherish” was a commercial success, reaching the top-ten of the charts in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom and the combined European chart. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Cherish” became Madonna’s 16th consecutive top-five single, setting a record in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
A black-and-white music video for the song was directed by photographer Herb Ritts at the Paradise Cove Beach in Malibu, California. In the video, Madonna plays herself, while three co-actors dressed as mermen swim in and out of the sea. Academics noted that the mermen became symbols for the homosexual community and the oppression it faced. Madonna performed “Cherish” on her Blond Ambition World Tour (1990), where the performance included her dancers dressed up as mermen. Its symbolism was seen to de-sexualize men, relegating them to objects of desire.