Today in Madonna History: March 28, 1987

On March 28 1987, the final single from Madonna’s True Blue album, La Isla Bonita, was briefly reviewed in Billboard magazine.

The now-classic song was Madonna’s first sonic exploration into her love of Latin music and culture which would become a recurring inspiration in her body of work. Written by Madonna, Patrick Leonard, and frequent Leonard collaborator, guitarist Bruce Gaitsch, it has been reported that the instrumental demo of the song was initially offered to Michael Jackson, who passed on the track.

While Madonna has said that La Isla Bonita took inspiration from “the beauty and mystery of Latin American people,” she has remained more elusive about the song’s geographical references. Years later, she teasingly commented in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine:

“I don’t know where San Pedro is. At that point, I wasn’t a person who went on holidays to beautiful islands. I may have been on the way to the studio and seen an exit ramp for San Pedro.”

Today in Madonna History: February 7, 1987

Open Your Heart 12'' Cover 2 Open Your Heart 12'' Back open your heart sheet music

On February 7 1987, Open Your Heart hit number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. The track was the 4th international single release from the True Blue album.

While the song has kept a relatively high-profile amongst Madonna’s hits through the years – having been included on the set-lists of four of her world tours (including her most recent MDNA Tour) and two of her greatest hits albums – the single attained only moderate success on the charts (by Madonna’s own standards) in most countries outside the U.S.

Open Your Heart peaked at number-eight in Canada; at number-six in Australia, Italy, Belgium and The Netherlands; and landed outside the top-ten in France (twenty-four), Switzerland (eleven), Germany (seventeen) and Austria (eighteen). It fared better in the UK, hitting number-four – and it achieved its highest European placement in Ireland, topping out at number-two.

Today in Madonna History: January 10, 1987

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On January 10 1987, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach was honoured as America’s Most Popular Video and the World’s Favourite Video at the 1st annual World Music Video Awards, produced by Canada’s MuchMusic and Europe’s Sky Channel.

Today in Madonna History: December 24, 1987

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On December 24 1987, Madonna began filming Bloodhounds Of Broadway, co-starring Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey & Randy Quaid and directed by Howard Brookner.

Today in Madonna History: October 24, 1987

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On October 24 1987, Causing A Commotion climbed to its peak position of number-two in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100. It remained in the runner-up spot for three weeks, with Michael Jackson’s Bad blocking it from the top for the first two weeks and Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now overtaking it on the third.

The song was the second and final Madonna single from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack in North America, while some international markets were treated to a third single – the underrated ballad The Look Of Love.

Today in Madonna History: October 17, 1987

On October 17 1987, Billboard magazine featured a two-page spread taken out by Madonna’s manager, Freddy DeMann, thanking everyone involved with Madonna’s massively successful Who’s That Girl World Tour, which had wrapped up in Europe the month before.

In the same issue of Billboard, Chart Beat columnist Paul Grein marked Madonna’s 13th consecutive top-5 hit as Causing A Commotion moved into the #5 position on the Hot 100. Speculating on how long Madonna’s winning streak could last, he warned of the dangers of over-exposure and artistic complacency. Without the benefit of hindsight, the back-handed compliment and slightly patronizing advice is not altogether unreasonable, and is certainly not unusual for the time.

Less reasonable, however, is his summation that the severity of Madonna’s potential fall from grace would be compounded by the abundance of female singers of the era who “sound like Madonna”.

Because you know, all female singers are only that – female singers. Even though you’re co-writing and co-producing your own songs and radio can’t get enough, neither can your audience or even your peers, you’re breaking records set by top male and female artists alike, you’re selling out stadiums around the world and earning high praise as a live performer – don’t think any of these things should afford you any respect. You may not have entered the business through the back door and you may have paid your dues and then some, but you’ve still just been lucky, that’s all. You couldn’t possibly possess the talent or the drive to evolve or the insight to be able to stay in the game once your luck runs out. Even though you are the one that everyone is copying – you’re still just another female singer, and they’re a dime a dozen.

While we no longer need hindsight to spot the glaring absurdity and blatant sexism of such an argument today, would it be as obvious if Madonna hadn’t stuck around to dispel it?

Today in Madonna History: September 12, 1987

who's that girl

On September 12 1987, the Who’s That Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack hit #7 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart in the USA.

Madonna had this to say about the music on the soundtrack:

“I had some very specific ideas in mind, music that would stand on its own as well as support and enhance what was happening on screen and the only way to make that a reality was to have a hand in writing the tunes myself… The songs aren’t necessarily about Nikki or written to be sung by someone like her, but there’s a spirit to this music that captures both what the film and the characters are about, I think.”

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