Call Sean Penn because thirty years ago, Madonna served us with her groundbreaking third record, True Blue, her most groovy and girlish record that would go on to become a singles driven music factory that remains her best-selling album to date. A total departure from the roll-in-the-wedding-dress hay that was all up in her previous set, ’84’s Like a Virgin, this record is a more calculated Material music affair, with focus going towards Madonna’s evolving song craft, as well as showcasing a more sophisticated strain of her whirling dance-pop disposition. It was also this album that offered the first inkling of Madonna’s development into the world seeing her as less than a Boy Toy and more as a multi-dimensionally adept talent, a transformation that would certainly continue in full force with True Blue‘s follow-up, 89’s Like a Prayer.
Five blustery singles were released from the blockbuster record–“Live to Tell,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Open Your Heart,” “La Isla Bonita” and the cheeky title track, with all five hitting the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 while the first three became Madonna’s third, fourth and fifth respective number one singles. Of course, with each single came iconic videos which we could spill about all day long, with each one becoming an instant classic in the Madonna music video vault. Right, Mr. Danny Aiello, true star of “Papa Don’t Preach?”
Madonna’s love kissed ’80s music romp would go on to become the best-selling album of the 1980s by a female artist, and with current estimated sales of over 25 million copies worldwide, it’ remains one of the best-selling albums of all time. In fact, that’s just one more reason why you should always pay your music respects to Madonna’s now three decade old True Blue record and open your music heart to it right this very second.
1.Because it’s dedicated to Sean Penn…. First and foremost, let’s not forget that this album was dedicated to then husband (and current bestie) Sean Penn. Although the marriage ran its course well before the album stopped dominating the Billboard charts and Madonna embarked on her Who’s That Girl Tour, it’s always fun to reminisce on what a lovely piece of ’80s pop culture this album truly is and always will be.
2.That album cover… Another slice of pop culture goodness from this album came from its legendary album cover, which was shot in pure Madonna mystique by iconic photographer Herb Ritts. Featuring a breathtaking picture of the Material Girl from the neck up, we see the diva locked in a swan like pose while wearing pale make up and ferocious red lips, all while shades of gray, white and blue drip all over the frame. The tones and memorization of the shot instantly take the record to quite possibly containing the best album cover to ever come out of the ’80s….oh, wait, it is.
3.Because the violins from “Papa Don’t Preach” still get us every time…. Although the heartbreaking drums and purified ’80s synths of lead single “Live to Tell” still hit us in our Shanghai Surprise, it’s the serenading strings of bulldozing second True Blue single “Papa Don’t Preach” that still get us in music trouble deep.
Taking over mainstream radio in the summer of ’86, the controversial ditty easily became Madonna’s fourth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, while also performing well internationally, reaching the top position in the United Kingdom and Australia. Its accompanying video was directed by James Foley and a shows a vast reinvention for our girl who rocks a sleek cropped platinum blonde bob (while rocking a soon-to-be pair of Mom jeans) which was intertwined with a dance sequence featuring the superstar in a black body suit with lots and lots of bounce. The much buzzed about video portrayed a storyline where Madonna is trying to tell her father (Danny Aiello) about her pregnancy, while we get a glimpse of Madonna spending a romantic evening with the boy who says he’s going to marry her so they can raise a little family.
Although well received by critics, “Papa Don’t Preach” caused heated discussions across the music globe about its lyrical content, with Women’s organizations and others in the family planning field feeling anger towards Madonna for encouraging teenage pregnancy. However, there were groups who opposed abortion and saw the tune as having a positive pro-life message. Either way, Madge lived to tell about it and has performed “Papa Don’t Preach” in four of her world tours, most recently The MDNA Tour in 2012.
The song has also caused her first conflict with the Vatican, as she dedicated it to Pope John Paul II, who urged Italian fans to boycott her concerts during the Who’s That Girl World Tour in 1987. But of course, they didn’t and we didn’t either as we all still live for the ’80s thunder that is “Papa Don’t Preach.”
4.It changed Madonna’s music game…forever. It’s hard to believe, but during the reign of this standout record, there were still many, many people who still weren’t buying Madonna’s act. But as we saw, that certainly wasn’t the case as True Blue proved a career tipping point that forced many of her detractors to reevaluate her artistry and embrace a newfound respect for her undeniable contributions to the pop music landscape. There’s simply no denying that the album transformed the “Angel” diva into a true icon, joining the ranks of Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Prince and Whitney Houston as a true untouchable music force to be reckoned with.
5.Because you still don’t respect “Where’s the Party”…. Out of all of Madonna’s underrated grooves, there are two on this album that don’t nearly get enough attention as the rest of the material in the True Blue vault. The first being the love-laced title track (we can also throw “White Heat” in there as well) and the second being “Where’s the Party,” this album’s answer to “Holiday.” It’s a groove that no one ever seems to press play on, and since this is an anniversary music party, there’s no better time to turn it all the way up and just live for this wonderful Madonna music moment.
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