On September 5 1986, Madonna was honoured with the Video Vanguard Award for her visionary videos at the 3rd annual MTV Video Music Awards at the Palladium in New York City.
Madonna found immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Her videos depicted controversial subjects such as teen pregnancy, racism, religion, sex and violence. She received the Video Vanguard Award for her contributions to the world of music video.
On July 26 1986, “Papa Don’t Preach” spent its third and final week at number-one on the UK singles chart. It was certified Gold by BPI on August 1st, 1986 for shipment of over 500,000 copies, based on certification thresholds at that time. With a chart run extending for 15 weeks, the single ranked #8 overall in the UK’s year-end charts tally.
The song was a massive hit across Europe, topping the Eurochart for an incredible eleven week stretch from August 2nd through October 11th, 1986 when it was finally overtaken by none other than Madonna herself with the follow-up single, “True Blue.”
Although “Justify My Love” is often cited as being the first-ever video single, it is interesting to note that it was actually not the first Madonna music video to be marketed commercially as a single. Possibly an attempt to cash-in on the success and controversy surrounding “Papa Don’t Preach” or more likely as a means of testing out new marketing possibilities for a hybrid laserdisc/cd format, Warner issued limited quantities of “Papa Don’t Preach” as a CD Video in the US, UK and Japan containing three audio tracks along with the music video. Perhaps anticipating the limited appeal of the format, Warner did not bother modifying the track-listing to include the appropriate b-sides in either the UK (“Ain’t No Big Deal“) or Japan (“Think Of Me“), instead opting to issue the US b-side (“Pretender“) on all three pressings. Stranger still was the release date – 1988 – two years after the standard single hit stores. Needless to say, this early attempt to market a music video single did not stir public interest the way it would in 1990, and the concept went into hibernation mode until Madonna gave audiences a video single they were willing to pay for.
On June 30 1986, Madonna’s “True Blue” album was released by Sire Records. She worked with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard on the album while co-writing and co-producing all the songs.
“True Blue” was an immediate global success, reaching number one in then record-breaking 28 countries across the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. It spent 34 consecutive weeks at the top of the European Top 100 Albums chart, longer than any other album in history. It became the world’s top-selling album of 1986, as well the biggest selling album of the 1980s by a woman and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time with sales of more than 25 million copies worldwide. All five singles released from the album reached the top five on theBillboard Hot 100, with “Live to Tell“, “Papa Don’t Preach“, and “Open Your Heart” peaking at number one.
On June 7 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 in the USA.
This beautiful video shows Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard playing a solo piano version of Live To Tell:
On May 31 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 for 3 weeks on US Hot Adult Contemporary singles chart.
The song was Madonna’s third number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and her first number-one on the Adult Contemporary chart.
In an interview about the song, Madonna said, “I thought about my relationship with my parents and the lying that went on. The song is about being strong, and questioning whether you can be that strong but ultimately surviving.”
In a review of the album True Blue, Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic called it a “tremendous ballad that rewrites the rules of adult contemporary crossover”.
Jim Farber from Entertainment Weekly called the song “her best ballad to date”.
In a review of her compilation album The Immaculate Collection, David Browne from Entertainment Weekly magazine called it “one of her few successful shots at being a balladeer”.
Alfred Soto from Stylus Magazine felt that “the song’s set of lyrics remain her best” and that the vocals “seethes with a lifetime’s worth of hurts which she nevertheless refuses to share”.
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the song “striking” adding that it “rewrote the rules of what a pop song was supposed to sound like”.
Edna Gundersen from USA Today called the song “a moody heart-tugger, may be her best song ever.”