On February 25 1987, Madonna’s La Isla Bonita was released as the fifth and final single from the True Blue album.
An instrumental version of the song, written by Bruce Gaitsch, was first offered to Michael Jackson for his Bad album, but Jackson declined to use the track.
While working with Patrick Leonard on the True Blue album, Madonna accepted the instrumental track and then wrote the lyrics and melody, giving her a co-writing credit with Leonard and Gaitsch. The track was also produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard.
On January 30 2020, glowing reviews of Madonna’s first Madame X show in London were published:
Music critic Neil McCormick (The Telegraph) had this to say: Anarchic and experimental – her best show ever? 5 STARS (out of 5)
I’m not sure who was having more fun at the opening of Madonna’s London residency, the audience or the star. She sang, she danced, she joked and she beamed with almost childlike glee at the crowd’s adoring response.
“How happy I am to have made it this far,” she declared, calling London “my second home”.
Madonna first played the city in 1983 to 1,500 early adopters at the Camden Palace. Her next London gig was Wembley Stadium. She was clearly delighted to be back in a venue where she could not just reach out and touch the audience, she could descend from the stage and sit in their laps. “It’s so intimate. It’s gorgeous and a thrill for me to be able to see all your faces.”
David Smyth of the Evening Standard gave the show 4 STARS (out of 5): Madame X is tireless, imaginative and powerfully intimate.
Such drama before Madonna could even take to the stage for her first theatre tour since 1985! Would she arrive drastically late? Would she cancel at the last minute? Tenterhooks all round.
Monday was supposed to be the first of a planned 15 nights at the Palladium, cancelled on doctor’s orders. It was the 10th dropped concert of the Madame X Tour, which began in New York in September and gathered complaints for its late start times.
But tonight at 8.45pm, there she was, dressed as a bloodstained, eyepatch-wearing revolutionary soldier. She was also a spy, a protest marcher and a Portuguese fado singer in the course of a tireless, imaginative show that was far from shrunken arena pop. Thanks especially to an extraordinary troupe of dancers, it was a spectacle that felt more powerful up close.
Like Bruce Springsteen, who showed a different side of himself in his recent Broadway run, and Kate Bush, whose live comeback was more theatre than concert, the 61-year-old has unearthed something new late in her career. The Madame X album may have plummeted out of the charts in an instant, but here its songs dominated and found their purpose.
Batuka, tuneless on record, was euphoric when performed with a mass of smiling, rump-shaking Batuque drummers from Cape Verde. I Rise was far more powerful when backed by footage of anti-gun protests and gay pride marches.
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian, also gave the show 4 STARS (out of 5) and noted: London residency short on hits but big on British banter.
She sings the bare minimum of big hits – Vogue, Like a Prayer, Human Nature – with Express Yourself and La Isla Bonita reduced to interstitial roles (the former performed as a sweet, but brief a cappella duet with her daughter Mercy), and American Life performed in full.
Still, it occasionally serves to remind you that some of Madame X is better than its relatively muted commercial response might suggest – Medellín sounds like the hit single it wasn’t, as does the gorgeous album track Crazy. This is presumably part of the point – the other part being a certain screw-you intransigence designed to underline that we are in the presence of an artiste, not a pop star.
And the BBC had a few fun notes to add in their review:
The audience were required to store mobile phones in sealed pouches as “an intervention for us all”. However, Madonna admitted that even she was getting anxious without a phone nearby.
“I’m having little panic attacks,” she joked. “I’m like, ‘Why is no-one taking my picture?'”
But the gambit worked: Freed from distractions, the audience gave the concert their undiluted attention; while Madonna seemed to relax and have fun without a phalanx of tiny cameras recording her every move.
At one point, she slipped into a British accent and recalled how she’d been ridiculed for developing similarly plummy vowels during her marriage to Guy Ritchie.
“I didn’t know what anyone was talking about until I heard old interviews of myself,” she said. “And then I was horrified and flabbergasted. Why did you let me do that to myself? I’m from Michigan!”
“It’s all Guy Ritchie’s fault,” she decided. “He made me to it.”
On November 7 1995, Madonna’s Something To Remember greatest ballad hits collection was released. The collection was released on different dates in different markets.
Described as a “love letter from Madonna to her fans and music lovers alike” in the album’s liner note, Madonna further explained:
So much controversy has swirled around my career this past decade that very little attention ever gets paid to my music. The songs are all but forgotten. While I have no regrets regarding the choices I’ve made artistically, I’ve learned to appreciate the idea of doing things in a simpler way. So without a lot of fanfare, without any distractions, I present to you this collection of ballads. Some are old, some are new. All of them are from my heart.
Something To Remember included the following songs:
I Want You
Take A Bow
Crazy for You
This Used to Be My Playground
Live to Tell
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (Remix)
Something to Remember
One More Chance
I Want You (Orchestral)
The Japanese release included La Isla Bonita.
The Latin release included Verás the Spanish version of You’ll See.
On August 18 1987, Madonna performed the first of three sold-out Who’s That Girl Tour concerts at Wembley Stadium in London.
In total, Madonna performed for 216,000 fans during the three nights at Wembley.
On May 23 1987, La Isla Bonita hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary chart where it ruled for a single week.
It was Madonna’s second Hot AC chart topper after Live To Tell‘s three-week stint at #1 the previous year.
Both releases achieved similar longevity on AC radio playlists, with La Isla‘s seventeen-week Hot AC chart run nearly living up to Tell‘s eighteen weeks.
On April 13 2019, two of Madonna’s classic Japanese-exclusive vinyl EPs were re-released on coloured vinyl for Record Store Day 2019: True Blue (Super Club Mix) and La Isla Bonita (Super Mix).
True Blue (Super Club Mix) was pressed on blue vinyl (limited to 13,000 copies) and included the following tracks:
- True Blue (The Color Mix)
- Everybody (Dub Version)
- Papa Don’t Preach (Extended Remix)
- Everybody (Extended Version)
- Live To Tell (Instrumental)
La Isla Bonita (Super Mix) was pressed on green vinyl (limited to 12,500 copies) and included the following tracks:
- La Isla Bonita (Extended Remix)
- Open Your Heart (Extended Version)
- Crazy For You
- La Isla Bonita (Instrumental)
Jay’s Note: I was in line at 5:35am. Did you participate in Record Store Day? Were you successful in your search?