Today in Madonna History: September 11, 1987

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On September 11 1987, Madonna won Best Female Video for Papa Don’t Preach at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

Having just completed her Who’s That Girl World Tour in Europe, Madonna did not attend the ceremony in person. Instead, a performance of Causing A Commotion recorded the week before in Turin, Italy was featured during the broadcast.

Today in Madonna History: August 23, 1986

On August 23 1986, Papa Don’t Preach spent the first of two weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Maxi-Singles Sales chart.

Despite being more of a pop/rock song than a club-oriented cut – both in its original form and in Stephen Bray’s extended remix version – Papa Don’t Preach nevertheless managed to reach #4 on Billboard’s August 30th Hot Dance/Club Play chart due to the massive buzz surrounding the song and its undeniable crossover appeal.

 

Today in Madonna History: July 12, 1986

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On July 12 1986, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach reached #1 in the UK and stayed there for 3 weeks.

Madonna’s first-ever CD single was for Papa Don’t Preach. The single was produced in the UK for distribution in the USA. The rare gold disc CD single featured 3 audio tracks as well as the official video for Papa Don’t Preach in NTSC format.

The single included:

  • Papa Don’t Preach (7″ Version) (4:27)
  • Papa Don’t Preach (12″ Version) (5:43)
  • Pretender (LP Version) (4:28)
  • Papa Don’t Preach (Video) (5:05)

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: May 25, 2004

On May 25 2004, Rolling Stone magazine published a review of Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour with the headline, “Madonna Reinvents herself. Amid images of war and peace, pop star shows she can sing.”

Here’s the review by Barry Walters:

After twenty years in the limelight, Madonna is expected to cause controversy and reinvent herself for every new tour. So for the May 24th Los Angeles opening of her Re-Invention world trek, Madonna did the most unexpected thing she could: She came back as a great concert singer.

Even the most diehard Madonna fan will concede that her live performances have almost without exception been plagued by a multitude of missed notes, breathy passages, and, as of late, fake British accents. But while Mariah and Whitney have of been losing the acrobatic vocal dexterity and lung power on which their reputations rest, forty-five-year-old Madonna, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician, has never sounded better than she did during the first of several gigs in her adopted West Coast home. Whether rocking out with classic black Les Paul in hand during a metallic rendition of her early club hit “Burning Up,” or performing “Like a Prayer” behind a screen-projected gospel choir, Madonna belted, and did not once seemed strained. In the midst of a $1 million production festooned with a walkway that jutted out from the stage and over the audience, massive moving video screens, a dozen dancers, a bagpipe player, a stunt skateboarder and a whole lot of emotionally charged anti-war imagery, the focus was nevertheless on Madonna, and how she’s matured into a truly great pop singer.

Opening with a yoga-trained twist on her famous Louis XIV-inspired MTV Video Music Awards rendition of “Vogue” and ending on a kilt-wearing finale of “Holiday” against a video backdrop of national flags that eventually morphed into one, the show was thematically simpler and more focused than her last several productions.

The barbarism of war and the necessity of love were at the heart of the entire show, and both played off each other, sometimes for ironic and decidedly uneasy effect. The original military-themed video footage of “American Life” that the singer withheld at the start of the Iraq war was finally unveiled, and then expanded upon during “Express Yourself,” where Madonna sang her anthem of unbridled, intimate communication in front of dancers dressed as soldiers and goose-stepping with twirling rifles.

By contrast, Madonna closed an extended acoustic section of the show with a straightforward and thoroughly committed rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as images of war and poverty-ravaged children eventually gave way to footage of a Muslim boy and his Israeli counterpart smiling as they walked with their arms wrapped around each other.

The heaviness of much of the imagery was balanced by Madonna’s own presence, which seemed remarkably fun-loving and self-assured for the opening night of her most technically complex production. Only when she strapped on an acoustic or electric guitar during several songs and repeatedly glanced at her left hand to make sure it was playing the proper chords did she seem at all nervous. “How many people out there really think that I am the Material Girl?” she asked during a break in her most iconic early smash as she strummed with much deliberation.

For the last several songs, Madonna and her dancers donned black and white kilts, an apparent nod to husband Guy Ritchie’s Scottish heritage, and black T-shirts that read “Kabbalists Do It Better,” a cheeky reference to both her religious studies and the “Italians Do It Better” T-shirt she wore during her video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” a song that was performed without the “near-naked pregnant women” described in pre-tour reports of the show. In a number dedicated for the “fans that’ve stood by me for the last twenty years,” she sang her earliest hit ballad, “Crazy For You,” earnestly and without contrivance.

Madonna’s continued relevance was impressive, but it was even more striking that she’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.

Today in Madonna History: February 25, 1992

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On February 25 1992, the Pioneer LaserDisc-only release Madonna: Blond Ambition World Tour Live won Best Music Video–Long Form at the 34th annual Grammy Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York.

Although Madonna had received four Grammy nominations in previous years (Best Female Pop Vocal in 1986 & 1987; Best Original Song From A Motion Picture in 1988; Best Music Video–Short Form in 1991 for Oh Father), Madonna: Blond Ambition Tour Live represented her very first Grammy Award win. Ironically, the lack of a VHS edition or of any subsequent DVD/Blu-Ray reissue of the title meant that only those in possession a pricey LaserDisc player were afforded the opportunity to purchase and enjoy the award-winning release.

Madonna would receive three more Grammy nominations for Best Music Video–Long Form in the years that followed; she was nominated in 1995 and 2007 for The Girlie Show–Live Down Under and I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, respectively, before finally winning the award a second time for The Confessions Tour in 2008.

Today in Madonna History: January 10, 1987

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On January 10 1987, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach was honoured as America’s Most Popular Video and the World’s Favourite Video at the 1st annual World Music Video Awards, produced by Canada’s MuchMusic and Europe’s Sky Channel.

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