On July 26 1986, the second single from Madonna’s True Blue album, Papa Don’t Preach, climbed from #12 to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On July 18 2004, Madonna played the first of three sold-out dates at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during her Re-Invention Tour. Playing to a combined total of over 52,000 fans, the shows were the only Canadian stop on the tour and marked her first concerts in Canada in eleven years.
At the second show Madonna proclaimed to those in attendance that they were the best audience of the tour thus far, while the final Toronto date saw Madonna in an uncharacteristically playful mood. Interrupting the show’s normally swift progression between Papa Don’t Preach and Crazy For You, she joked about the infamous 1990 threats of arrest and whipped the audience into a cheering frenzy with her self-described “unprofessional” behaviour.
On July 12 1986, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach reached #1 in the UK and stayed there for 3 weeks.
Madonna’s first-ever CD single was for Papa Don’t Preach. The single was produced in the UK for distribution in the USA. The rare gold disc CD single featured 3 audio tracks as well as the official video for Papa Don’t Preach in NTSC format.
The single included:
- Papa Don’t Preach (7″ Version) (4:27)
- Papa Don’t Preach (12″ Version) (5:43)
- Pretender (LP Version) (4:28)
- Papa Don’t Preach (Video) (5:05)
On June 28 1986, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach single debuted at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. Eight weeks later it would reach #1 on the same chart.
Shortly after its release, the song caused heated discussions about its lyrical content. Women’s organizations and others in the family planning field criticized Madonna for encouraging teenage pregnancy, while groups opposed to abortion saw it as a positive pro-life message.
In July 1986, shortly after the release of the video for Papa Don’t Preach, Madonna commented on the controversy surrounding the song, to music critic Stephen Holden from The New York Times:
“Papa Don’t Preach is a message song that everyone is going to take the wrong way. Immediately they’re going to say I am advising every young girl to go out and get pregnant. When I first heard the song, I thought it was silly. But then I thought, wait a minute, this song is really about a girl who is making a decision in her life. She has a very close relationship with her father and wants to maintain that closeness. To me it’s a celebration of life. It says, ‘I love you, father, and I love this man and this child that is growing inside me’. Of course, who knows how it will end? But at least it starts off positive.”
On September 4 1987, Madonna performed “Causing A Commotion” live via satellite from the Stadio Communale in Turin, Italy, during the “Who’s That Girl World Tour” and won Best Female Video for “Papa Don’t Preach” at the 4th annual MTV Video Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, California.
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.