Thursday, June 30, 2016

Madonna - True Blue

Today (June 30th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of True Blue, the third studio album from Madonna. This multi-Platinum seller from 1986 went to number 1 all over the world: Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. Here in the US, it spent an amazing eighty-two weeks on the Billboard Album chart.

Side one opens with "Papa Don't Preach". Released as the second single, it reached number 16 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 4 in Austria and on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 3 in France and New Zealand, number 2 in Germany and Switzerland, and number 1 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK, and on the US Billboard Hot 100. I like how it opens with a symphonic string arrangement before busting into a bouncing beat. I danced to this one a lot in the clubs back during '86 and '87. The lyrical message was controversial at the time as many took it as an anthem for anti-abortion and unwed mothers. I always saw it as an empowering song where someone is taking responsibility for her actions and making a plan for the future.

"Open Your Heart", the fourth single, peaked at number 24 in France, number 18 in Austria, number 17 in Germany, number 12 in New Zealand and on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 8 in Canada, number 6 in Australia, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, number 4 in the UK, number 2 in Ireland, and number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Dance charts. This was another dance favorite of mine at the time as its energy level starts out high and never lets up. You could get a great work out while also letting the lyrics plead your case for someone to take a chance on you. In my book, that was a win-win.

"White Heat", the B-side to the fourth single, is an homage to classic gangster films of the 1940's. The title in fact comes from the 1949 James Cagney film, and the song samples dialogue from it. I like the call-and-response element of the chorus. Combined with the opening two tracks, this one rounds out a solid dance block.

Time to slow things down. The first single from the album was "Live to Tell"; it went to number 12 in Germany, number 11 in Sweden, number 7 in Australia, number 6 in France and New Zealand, number 4 in Switzerland, number 3 in Belgium and the Netherlands, number 2 in Ireland and the UK, and number 1 in Canada, Italy and Norway, and in the US (both on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart). The song appeared in the April 1986 film At Close Range which starred her then husband Sean Penn. This ballad often showed up for some end of the night slow dancing at the clubs and parties.

Side two begins with the query "Where's the Party". At the time, the answer for me was "right here". Madonna had already solidly established herself in the dance mixes of the mid-80's. This one is very much my favorite of the deep cuts from the album.

The title track is next. "True Blue", as the third single, went to number 18 in Sweden, number 12 in Spain, number 9 in Austria, number 6 in France, Germany and Switzerland, and on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 5 in Australia and on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 4 in Italy and the Netherlands, number 3 in Belgium and New Zealand, and on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 in Canada, Ireland and the UK. The song has a throwback 60's girl group vibe to it, a more innocent image that completely contrasted to her party-girl reputation up to this point. Clearly this was a result of the love she was experiencing as a newly married woman.

The fifth single, "La Isla Bonita", went to number 18 in Finland, number 10 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 8 in Spain, number 6 in Australia, number 5 in New Zealand and Norway, number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 3 in Belgium and Sweden, number 2 in the Netherlands, and number 1 in Austria, Canada, Switzerland, the UK and on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. This exotic song about the beautiful island of San Pedro comes in a heavily Spanish-influenced flavor.

"Jimmy Jimmy" also has a girl-group vibe to it, but it is delivered with a very rapid rhythm. The song could easily serve as a tribute to classic movie bad boys like James Dean.

The record closes with the tropical rhythms of "Love Makes the World Go Round", a song about embracing world peace and cultural understanding.

I owned a copy of True Blue on vinyl back in 1986 and often drove around with a copy of it on cassette in my car. Today, the album remains one of my favorites from that year as I enjoy it completelly from start to finish.

For more from Madonna, click here.


80sMusicGirl said...

my all time favorite Madonna album, Open your Heart, Live to Tell and La Isla Bonita were my favorite tunes. thank you for the doing the review for this, it brings back some great memories :)

Mark said...

I'm probably in a very small ultra-minority, but like 80sMusicGirl, this is my favorite Madonna album. Oddly, I've never purchased it on CD, but I have files to listen.