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.
On June 7 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 in the USA. Live To Tell was written and produced together by Madonna and Patrick Leonard.
Speaking of Patrick Leonard, one of our all-time favourite Madonna collaborators — he currently has a Kickstarter campaign going for a new album called Bring The Circus Home, a collection of re-visited and re-imagined songs (piano-only, no vocals) that he and Madonna worked on and released together. Please check out Patrick’s Kickstarter campaign and donate/pledge if you can — this is an all-or-nothing campaign. He will not be able to proceed with the album if the goal is not met by Wednesday July 4.
Jay’s Note: I’m going to pledge $100 so I can get one of the limited edition vinyl releases! Woo-hoo vinyl!
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.”
On 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.
On June 7 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, giving Madonna her third #1 single.
Written by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, Live To Tell was Madonna’s fourth soundtrack song in two years (Crazy For You, Into The Groove, Gambler + Live To Tell), and it was also the lead single from Madonna’s True Blue album.
What is your favourite Madonna soundtrack song?