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Happy 28th, True Blue


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[*]True Blue is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Madonna, released on June 30, 1986, by Sire Records.

[*]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.

[*]True Blue spent 34 consecutive weeks at the top of the European Top 100 Albums chart, longer than any other album in history.

[*]True Blue 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. [ http://www.mtv.com/news/1682061/madonna-lionel-richie-top-billboard/ ]

[*]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.

[*]The global success of True Blue marked the first time Madonna entering the Guinness Book of World Records in its 1988 edition, where she was dubbed as the most successful singer for 1986. 

[*]The album also held the record for number one in the most countries, topping the album charts in a total of 28 countries around the world. 

[*]True Blue was later included in the 1991 edition of Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest selling album by a woman, with copies sold of more than 17 million until October 1990. 


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According to Madonna, True Blue takes its title from a favorite expression of her then husband Sean Penn and his very pure vision of love. The album was a direct tribute to him as well and was inspired by her "unabashed valentine" for Penn. Most of the songs on the album reflect this idea. Each song on True Blue was developed separately.


  • [*]"Papa Don't Preach" features acoustic, electric, and rhythm guitars, keyboards, and string arrangements. The song samples Beethoven's Appassionata sonata
. The song was written by Brian Elliot, who described it as "a love song, maybe framed a little bit differently". The song is based on teenage gossip Elliot heard outside his studio, which had a large front window that doubled as a mirror where schoolgirls from the North Hollywood High School in Los Angeles regularly stopped to fix their hair and chat. [*]"Open Your Heart" was the first recorded cut for the album, as early as December 1985 and ultimately made it to the final released tracklist; it was originally intended for Cyndi Lauper. [*]"White Heat" is an uptempo dance song with synth bass and double-tracked vocals supported by male voices in the chorus. It was dedicated to actor James Cagney and named after the film of the same name from 1949. Two quotations from the original soundtrack were included in the song. [*]"Live to Tell" portraits the complexity of deceit and mistrust. The song also is about childhood scars and had an extreme emotional pitch, achieving it in a divine sense. It was originally written by Patrick Leonard for the soundtrack of Paramount's romantic drama film Fire with Fire, but after the company declined it, Leonard showed the song to Madonna. She decided to use it for At Close Range, the new film of her then-husband, actor Sean Penn. Madonna made a demo of the song and, when the film's director, James Foley, heard it he asked Leonard to write the score for the film, as suggested by Madonna. [*]"Where's the Party" is a standard Madonna dance track with arrangements of bass drums, synthesizer, clattering rhythms and a remixed approach to the whole composition. The song  tells about a working girl enjoying her day on the dance-floor after work. [*]“True Blueâ€, the title track, featured instrumentation from a rhythm guitar, a synthesizer, keyboards, and drums for the bassline, with a backing track that employed a chord progression commonly used in doo-wop. It talks about romance and 50s inspired girl group pop. [*]"La Isla Bonita" was previously written for Michael Jackson's Bad album, but he had turned it down. While working with Leonard on the album, Madonna accepted it in Jackson's place and re-wrote the song's lyrics, thus earning herself a co-writing credit. Madonna described the song as her tribute to the "beauty and mystery of Latin American people". [*]"Jimmy Jimmy" has an early sixties pop influence and the lyrics were a tribute to pop star James Dean. The song talks about Madonna's admiration for the neighbour hood bad boy. [*]"Love Makes the World Go Round", which was originally intended as the first single, closes the album and was first performed at Live Aid a year earlier in July 1985. The song recalled the antiwar music of the sixties.


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Happy Birthday! I love this entire album. The cover was beautiful and one of her ultimate best. I think if I were to rank the songs for my faves (today), it would go like this:


1. Papa Don't Preach - the release of the single grabbed my attention and made me a fan 

2. Live To Tell 

3. La Isla Bonita

4. Where's The Party

5. Open Your Heart 

6. True Blue

7. White Heat

8. Jimmy Jimmy

9. Love Makes The World Go Round

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I loved this era. It was huge. By this time, she became a global superstar. And could you imagine if "Love Makes The World Go Around" did make the first single? I'm sure it would have been a big hit still, but I don't think on the same level as "Live To Tell" and the follow up "Papa Don't Preach".


I actually had forgotten that "Open Your Heart" was originally intended for Cyndi Lauper. I suspect maybe since her album that released around the same time, included "Change of Heart" had something to do with it.

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Review 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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Live to Tell - Song Review by Stewart Mason

Throughout her career, Madonna has occasionally reasserted herself as an artist by releasing a dramatic ballad that proves that behind all of the contrived controversy and manipulation, she's a genuinely talented singer. "Live To Tell" was the first of these reminders; written and recorded as the theme for then-husband Sean Penn's film At Close Range (and cannily tied to a complete image overhaul featuring a sleek new Jean Seberg blonde gamine cut and more streamlined wardrobe), "Live To Tell" is a slow, atmospheric ballad unlike anything Madonna had recorded up to that point. Showing off her newly developed lower range, which would quickly become her strongest vocal asset, Madonna delivers one of her all-time strongest vocal performances, singing the slightly melodramatic lyrics with just the right blend of restraint and emotion. Patrick Leonard's wide-open, spacious production -- which even dispenses with drums at a couple of points, daring for such a dance-oriented artist -- perfectly suits his simple but effective tune, where the verses are merely connecting points between reiterations of the utterly beguiling melody of the chorus. "Live To Tell" belongs at the top of any reasonable list of big '80s ballads.

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I've always been a bit confused with this album : I tend to think of it as a collection of amazing singles (+ White Heat) but it doesn't come off as an album should, IMO. I can't play it in its entirety, I think it's the Madonna album I use the skip button the most on...

Really? That's odd because I've always though the album flowed quite well and was the essential dance/party album with the exception of the song "Live To Tell".  Still even this song, it's the essential classic Madonna album. It's the album that defined her as a global superstar. 

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