Today in Madonna History: July 12, 1986

hb_tb-1On July 12 1986, Madonna’s third album, True Blue, debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart.

Here’s the AllMusic review of True Blue by Stephen Thomas Erlewine:

True Blue 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. To complain that True Blue is calculated is to not get Madonna — that’s a large part of what she does, and she is exceptional at it, but she also makes fine music. What’s brilliant about True Blue is that she does both here, using the music to hook in critics just as she’s baiting a mass audience with such masterstrokes as “Papa Don’t Preach,” where she defiantly states she’s keeping her baby. It’s easy to position anti-abortionism as feminism, but what’s tricky is to transcend your status as a dance-pop diva by consciously recalling classic girl-group pop (“True Blue,” “Jimmy Jimmy”) to snag the critics, while deepening the dance grooves (“Open Your Heart,” “Where’s the Party”), touching on Latin rhythms (“La Isla Bonita”), making a plea for world peace (“Love Makes the World Go Round”), and delivering a tremendous ballad that rewrites the rules of adult contemporary crossover (“Live to Tell”). It’s even harder to have the entire album play as an organic, cohesive work. Certainly, there’s some calculation behind the entire thing, but what matters is the end result, 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.

Today in Madonna History: July 11, 1987

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On July 11 1987, Madonna’s True Blue album was certified 5x platinum (5 million units) in the USA.  The album went on to sell an estimated 19 million units worldwide.

How many copies of True Blue do you own? Cassette? 8-Track? LP? CD? 

Today in Madonna History: May 2, 1987

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On May 2 1987, La Isla Bonita, the fifth and final single from Madonna’s True Blue album hit #4 in the USA.

An instrumental demo of the song was first offered to Michael Jackson by co-writer Patrick Leonard before Madonna both accepted it and wrote its lyrics and melody.

La Isla Bonita is noted for being the first Madonna song to have a Latino influence in it, with arrangements of Cuban drums and Spanish guitar, maracas, harmonicas and a mix of synthesized and real drumming.

Clearly a personal favorite of Madonna’s, it has been one of her most frequently performed 80’s hits, appearing in the standard set list of seven of her concert tours. Like A Virgin has also appeared as a set list regular in seven tours, while Holiday leads with regular appearances in eight. A case could perhaps be made, however, that Holiday and La Isla Bonita are tied, given that Holiday was only added as a set list regular for the shorter 2009 leg of the Sticky & Sweet Tour, while La Isla Bonita was featured in both the 2008 & 2009 incarnations of the show.

Today in Madonna History: October 9, 2021

On October 9, 2021, Variety published the following recap of Madonna’s surprise performance at Red Rooster in Harlem, New York (performed the night before):

On Friday night in New York City, Madonna, joined by Jon Batiste, his band and a small group of fans, gave an intimate cabaret performance in the basement of Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant Red Rooster, before spilling out into the Harlem streets for a 2 a.m. parade set to “Like a Prayer.”

The midnight cabaret turned New Orleans-style street party rang in Friday’s release of “Madame X,” a documentary concert film of Madonna’s 2019 tour, released by Paramount Plus.

“Obviously, Madame X has been born,” Madonna said to the basement crowd, dressed in a black cocktail dress, lace gloves and long blonde wig. “She was always here. She’s always been by your side, encouraging you, pushing you, inspiring you, I hope.”

Taking the stage in the dimly lit supper club just after 1:40 a.m., Madonna, who laid on top of Batiste’s piano like Marilyn Monroe and climbed up the basements’ columns to grind up and down the wall, sang lounge renditions of “Dark Ballet,” “La Isla Bonita” and the Portuguese “Saudade.”

“Do you feel like something is missing from your life?” she asked the crowd, softly into the microphone while Batiste played beneath her. “So, what’s our job? What’s our destiny? To go out and find it,” she said. “I was talking to Jon on the way here, and we said to each other: Here’s the big question: How bad do you want it?”

The evening was almost impossibly intimate, attended by a crowd that looked to be about 100-200 friends, family and fans, who sank into the club’s plush banquets awaiting her arrival.

During the performance, after falling to her knees in a contemplative adaptation of “Like a Prayer,” Madonna grabbed a nearby megaphone, gestured to the musicians to pick up their instruments, and told the crowd to take to the streets. Obliging blindly, the partygoers climbed up the basement stairs — propelled by the rhythm of Batiste’s band and the sheer thrill of unpredictability — and filed onto 126th street. 

Tambourine in hand, Madonna led Batiste and a modest group of the party’s attendees through the early-morning streets of Harlem, joining together as the group sang an anthemic “Like a Prayer” into the night sky.

Traveling a few blocks down the street, the congregation ended outside a nearby church, where Madonna, framed by the ecclesiastical doors behind her, offered an invocation. “The Lord is with all of us,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to say a prayer.”

At Red Rooster, where most partygoers returned after Madonna’s streetside sermon ended, the room grooved far into the morning, voguing down the dance floor as the open vodka bar continued to flow.  Nearby, joined by queer icons like Aquaria, the Queen of Pop sank into the same plush banquets and watched from afar as the room danced, high and carried away.

Today in Madonna History: August 26, 2001

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On August 26 2001, Madonna Live! Drowned World Tour 2001 was broadcast live on HBO and The Movie Network in Canada from The Palace Of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI. It was seen by 5.7 million viewers – the network’s third highest rated prime-time concert special since 1997.

The broadcast marked the second time Madonna had selected her hometown as a location to record one of her shows, the first being The Virgin Tour home video/laserdisc release, filmed in 1985 at Cobo Arena in Detroit.

With the Drowned World Tour itinerary not including any dates in Canada, many Canadian fans who purchased tickets for one of the two shows in Detroit were pleasantly surprised when it was announced that the second show would be broadcast live in both countries. Madonna’s previous HBO specials for the Blond Ambition and Girlie Show tours did not receive a live broadcast in Canada, although the latter did air on MuchMusic at a later date.

Today in Madonna History: August 18, 1987

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.

Today in Madonna History: June 30, 1986

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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 the Billboard Hot 100, with Live to Tell, Papa Don’t Preach, and Open Your Heart peaking at number one.

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