Madonna commented that the song was about a girl, who was "in depression over something. An angel appeared and healed her soul, making her fall madly in love with him; it's something that I felt when I was young. I thought it would make for an interesting story if I wrote that [experience] as a song on my record”.
Madonna had decided to release "Angel" as the initial single from the album, but changed her mind, after the recording of the title track "Like a Virgin" was complete. "Angel" was ultimately released as the third single, and included the song "Into the Groove", from Madonna's 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, on the B-side of the 12-inch maxi-single.
Madonna had initially planned to release a music video for "Angel", but later decided to go against it, as at that time, there were already five Madonna music videos on-rotation in the music channels and were being broadcast continuously. Hence, Warner Bros. and Madonna felt that adding another video to the already saturated channels, might not be in her favor. A promotional video, containing scenes from the music videos of "Burning Up", "Borderline", "Lucky Star", "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl" was made by Warner Bros. Records and aired in the United Kingdom. The video was included on the promotional-only video compilations It's That Girl and She's Breathless.
After ten weeks of its release, "Angel" reached a peak position of five on the chart. The song tied Madonna with Olivia Newton-John, as the female artist with most top-five hits on the Hot 100 at that time.