Today in Madonna History: December 27, 1986

On December 27 1986, RPM magazine published their list of the top charting singles of 1986 in Canada.

Here’s how Madonna’s singles stacked up in the year-end ranking:

  • Live To Tell – #2
  • Papa Don’t Preach – #13
  • True Blue – #37

A stark departure from her earlier pop hits, Live To Tell was initially considered by her record label to be a risky choice for a single. Its success showed that programmers were willing to give Madonna some room to grow on radio.

Today in Madonna History: November 22, 1986

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On November 22 1986, Madonna’s True Blue single peaked at #5 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary chart in the USA.  The hit single would eventually spend 16 weeks on the AC chart.

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Today in Madonna History: September 5, 1986

On September 5 1986, Madonna was honoured with the Video Vanguard Award for her visionary videos at the 3rd annual MTV Video Music Awards at the Palladium in New York City.

Madonna found immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Her videos depicted controversial subjects such as teen pregnancy, racism, religion, sex and violence.  She received the Video Vanguard Award for her contributions to the world of music video.

While there’s no denying Madonna was an early innovator in the art of music video, little did MTV – or those of us watching – know at the time that her most artistically groundbreaking work in the medium was yet to come.

Two things we did know at the time, however:

  1. Madonna’s insistence on sending Nikki Finn to collect awards on her behalf during this period was cute and everything, but mostly it just seemed…well…reductive.
  2. Madonna really liked that dress. But was it a dress?

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: November 2, 1987

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On November 2 1987, Madonna’s True Blue won International Album Of The Year at the 17th annual Juno Awards at the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

When did you last give True Blue a full listen? 

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