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.

Today in Madonna History: June 7, 1986

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?

Today in Madonna History: May 10, 1986

On May 10 1986, Live To Tell peaked at #2 on the Top 100 Singles chart in the UK.

Today in Madonna History: April 23, 2015

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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!)

Today in Madonna History: December 27, 1986

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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

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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: July 12, 1986

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.

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