Saturday, August 16, 1986

Madonna’s True Blue hit #1

First posted 3/26/2008; updated 11/25/2020.

True Blue


Released: June 30, 1986

Peak: 15 US, 16 UK, 114 CN, 12 AU

Sales (in millions): 7.8 US, 1.96 UK, 26.3 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: dance pop


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Papa Don’t Preach (6/26/86, 1 US, 1 UK, 16 AC, sales: 0.5 m)
  2. Open Your Heart (12/6/86, 1 US, 4 UK, 12 AC)
  3. White Heat
  4. Live to Tell (4/12/86, 1 US, 2 UK, 1 AC)
  5. Where’s the Party?
  6. True Blue (10/4/86, 3 US, 1 UK, 5 AC, sales: 0.5 m)
  7. La Isla Bonita (3/21/87, 4 US, 1 UK, 1 AC)
  8. Jimmy, Jimmy
  9. Love Makes the World Go Round

Total Running Time: 40:25


3.940 out of 5.00 (average of 31 ratings)

Quotable: “One of the great dance-pop albums.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


About the Album:

This is “the album where Madonna truly became Madonna the Superstar – the endlessly ambitious, fearlessly provocative entertainer that knew how to outrage, spark debates, get good reviews...and make good music while she’s at it.” STE Madonna set herself an extremely high bar with 1984’s Like a Virgin, but managed to top herself with True Blue. The former album went to #1 for three weeks; True Blue spent five weeks at the pinnacle. Virgin landed four top 5 hits, including the #1 title cut while True Blue pulled off five top 5 hits, three of which went to #1.

That included, including the first single, the ballad Live to Tell. It was also used in the film At Close Range, featuring actor Sean Penn, whom Madonna married in 1985.

“Madonna's third album was a huge musical leap forward.” KB True Blue demonstrates how Madonna uses “the music to hook in critics just as she’s baiting a mass audience with such masterstrokes as Papa Don’t Preach.” STE “With its gorgeous pseudo-classical strings intro, [it] is a sumptuous airwaves banquet, as Madonna wrestles with the have-the-baby-or-give-it-up dilemma (abortion’s not in the picture) in newly gritty tones.” KB

“It’s easy to position anti-abortionism as feminism, but what’s tricky is to transcend your status as a dance-pop diva.” STE “Most of the songs share a jittery dance-pop sound, edgy, distracted, and nerve-jangling but simultaneously invigorating and exhilarating and almost dangerously giddy – a perfect soundtrack for the mid-‘80s.” KB

True Blue finds Madonna “consciously recalling classic girl-group pop” STE with the title cut and “the fine-but-nothing-special Jimmy JimmyKB She also “deepen[s] the dance grooves” STE with “the hedonist’s credo of Where's the PartyKB and Open Your Heart, which is a “marriage of jitter-pop and wistful melody underscores the singer’s yearning but forceful stance (‘You better open your heart to me, buster’).” KB

Elsewhere, we see Madonna exploring “Latin rhythms” STE with “the subtle and pretty Latin pastiche La Isla BonitaKB, “making a plea for world peace (Love Makes the World Go Round)” STE, and, with Live to Tell, delivering a “a riveting ballad, lushly melodic yet spare and haunting – a place, as the song says, where beauty lives.” KB

This is “one of the great dance-pop albums, a record that demonstrates Madonna’s true skills as a songwriter, record-maker, provocateur, and entertainer through its wide reach, accomplishment, and sheer sense of fun.” STE “A quintessential ‘80s pop artifact.” KB

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