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.
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:
- 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.
- Madonna really liked that dress. But was it a dress?
On April 13 2019, two of Madonna’s classic Japanese-exclusive vinyl EPs were re-released on coloured vinyl for Record Store Day 2019: True Blue (Super Club Mix) and La Isla Bonita (Super Mix).
True Blue (Super Club Mix) was pressed on blue vinyl (limited to 13,000 copies) and included the following tracks:
- True Blue (The Color Mix)
- Everybody (Dub Version)
- Papa Don’t Preach (Extended Remix)
- Everybody (Extended Version)
- Live To Tell (Instrumental)
La Isla Bonita (Super Mix) was pressed on green vinyl (limited to 12,500 copies) and included the following tracks:
- La Isla Bonita (Extended Remix)
- Open Your Heart (Extended Version)
- Crazy For You
- La Isla Bonita (Instrumental)
Jay’s Note: I was in line at 5:35am. Did you participate in Record Store Day? Were you successful in your search?
On March 16 1995, Madonna’s The Immaculate Collection was certified 6x platinum (6 million units) in the USA.
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com):
On the surface, the single-disc hits compilation The Immaculate Collection appears to be a definitive retrospective of Madonna’s heyday in the ’80s. After all, it features 17 of Madonna’s greatest hits, from Holiday and Like a Virgin to Like a Prayer and Vogue. However, looks can be deceiving. It’s true that The Immaculate Collection contains the bulk of Madonna’s hits, but there are several big hits that aren’t present, including Angel, Dress You Up, True Blue, Who’s That Girl and Causing a Commotion. The songs that are included are frequently altered. Everything on the collection is remastered in Q-sound, which gives an exaggerated sense of stereo separation that often distorts the original intent of the recordings. Furthermore, several songs are faster than their original versions and some are faded out earlier than either their single or album versions, while others are segued together. In other words, while all the hits are present, they’re simply not in their correct versions. Nevertheless, The Immaculate Collection remains a necessary purchase, because it captures everything Madonna is about and it proves that she was one of the finest singles artists of the ’80s. Until the original single versions are compiled on another album, The Immaculate Collection is the closest thing to a definitive retrospective.
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.