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?
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 May 10 1986, Live To Tell peaked at #2 on the Top 100 Singles chart in the UK.
On December 27 1986, Billboard’s year-end issue hit newsstands with Madonna appearing on the following 1986 chart rankings:
- Top Pop Artist: #2
- Top Pop Album: “True Blue” #37
- Top Pop Album: “Like A Virgin” #52
- Top Pop Album Artist: #6
- Top Pop Album Artist – Female: #3
- Top Pop Singles Artist: #3
- Top Pop Singles Artist – Female: #2
- Top Pop Single: “Papa Don’t Preach” #29
- Top Pop Single: “Live To Tell” #35
- Top Pop Single: “True Blue” #76
- Top Pop Compact Disc: “True Blue” #25
- Top Adult Contemporary Artist: #9
- Top Adult Contemporary Single: “Live To Tell” #12
- Top Dance Club Play Single: “Papa Don’t Preach” #43
- Top Dance Sales Artist: #3
- Top Dance Sales 12-Inch Single: “Papa Don’t Preach” #29
- Top Dance Sales 12-Inch Single: “Live To Tell” #37
- Top Music Video: “Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour” #1
On October 7 1989, Cherish, the third single from Madonna’s incredible Like A Prayer album started the first of a two-week run at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary chart in the USA.
Cherish was Madonna’s third single to top the A.C. chart, following the 1986 ballad hit Live To Tell (3 weeks at #1) and 1987’s La Isla Bonita (also 1 week at #1).
Here’s what Madonna biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli (Madonna: An Intimate Biography) had to say about the single:
Cherish was a particular triumph for the Madonna/Patrick Leonard partnership. A delightful confection of radio-ready proportions, the song had it all—strong, positive, remarkably dysfunction-free lyrics about love, a memorable, singalong vocal melody, and a tight, pungent rhythm arrangement. It remains, quite simply, one of the best songs Madonna has ever written; sweet and happy, but by no means corny, it’s a perfectly constructed pop song which Madonna delivered beautifully, and with undeniably sassy charm. Indeed, if Cherish had been released in the Sixties, it would have most likely emanated from Detroit’s Motown or the New York song writing Mecca, the Brill Building.
On April 23 2015, Tori Amos came to Madonna’s defense when questioned about the ageist undertones on social media – and by the media at large – in reaction to her “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2015 Brit Awards:
Madonna is an entertainer. There are very few people who could’ve gotten up off that floor. It wasn’t because of her that she fell, but it was because of her that the performance carried on. Some of the vilification comes from women as much as men. She’s making choices and she’s able to do things physically that a lot of people 25 years younger can’t; she got up and refused to allow that to shame her. I think people want her to be shamed into a role that they find acceptable for her age. It makes me sad that we can’t embrace Madonna and say, Wow, this is an artist who’s expressing herself in a certain way.”
— Tori Amos
Tori often incorporates one or two cover songs by other artists into her live shows, but there are only a handful of artists whom she has covered multiple songs, and Madonna is one of them. She has performed both Live To Tell and Like A Prayer at numerous concerts, with the most recent Madonna composition to join her live repertoire being Frozen, which made its debut in Amsterdam in 2014.
(Many thanks to YouTube user LittleQueenbee77 for the great live footage of this performance!)