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True Blue is Madonna's third studio album that was released on June 30, 1986 by Sire and Warner Bros. Records.

Tracklisting

  1. Papa Don't Preach 4:27
  2. Open Your Heart 4:12
  3. White Heat 4:25
  4. Live To Tell 5:45
  5. Where's The Party 4:20
  6. True Blue 4:16
  7. La Isla Bonita 4:01
  8. Jimmy Jimmy 3:54
  9. Love Makes The World Go Round 4:27

Album Background

Composition

Packaging

Chart Performance

In the United States, "True Blue" debuted at #29 on the Billboard 200 and reached number one on the issue dated August 16, 1986.

The album stayed on the top position for five consecutive weeks and on the chart for a total of 82 weeks. The album also reached a peak of #47 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

"True Blue" was certified seven times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of over seven million units, making it Madonna's third best-selling album in the United States, behind Like a Virgin" and "The Immaculate Collection."

After the advent of the Nielsen SoundScan era in 1991, the album sold a further 404,000 copies.

In Canada, "True Blue" debuted at number 73 on the RPM albums chart for the issue of July 5, 1986. It climbed rapidly upwards and reached number one on the issue dated August 9, 1986. The album stayed at the top for nine weeks and was present on the chart for 77 weeks.

"True Blue" was certified diamond by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipment of one million copies. It was also a commercial success in Asia and Oceania. In Japan, the album peaked at number one on the Oricon LP chart.

At the 1987 Japan Gold Disc Awards held by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), the album received "Album of the Year Pop Solo" and "Grand Prix Album of the Year", which was given for the year's best-selling international album, while Madonna was honored the "Artist of the Year" for the year's best-selling international artist.

In Hong Kong, "True Blue" was certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

In Australia, the album topped the Kent Music Report albums chart on the issue date of August 4, 1986, staying there for two weeks.

The album was certified four times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 280,000 copies.

It also reached number one in New Zealand albums chart and was certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for shipment of 75,000 copies.

"True Blue" achieved its biggest commercial reception in European countries, where it topped the European Top 100 Albums chart for 34 consecutive weeks—a record that has yet to be broken—from issue dated July 19, 1986 to March 7, 1987.

In the United Kingdom, "True Blue" opened at the top of the UK Albums Chart on July 12, 1986, making it the first album by American artist to debut at number one in British chart history.

It remained at the summit for six weeks and on the chart for a total of 85 weeks. It was the best-selling album of 1986 in the United Kingdom.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified it seven times platinum for shipment of 2.1 million copies. As of June 2019, it has sold over two million copies, the highest sales for any of Madonna's studio albums.

The album also topped the albums chart in France and was certified diamond by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP) for shipment of one million copies. Actual sales of the album in the country stand at 1,353,100 copies.

In Germany, "True Blue" peaked at number one for eight weeks and was certified two times platinum by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) for shipment of one million copies.

Critical Reception

"True Blue" received general critical acclaim.

Jon Pareles, in a review for The New York Times, said that the album reprised the themes of fidelity in its songs and complimented her addition of a tinge of real world storytelling in her songs, making her reach the "fringes of the permissible".

Stephen Holden in another review complimented the album and said that "Madonna goes heavy on heart in this record".

In a Rolling Stone review, Davitt Sigerson stated that Madonna was "singing better than ever."

The album's songs were described as "catchy", but Sigerson also commented on the lack of "outstanding tracks". He ultimately stated that the album is a "sturdy, dependable, lovable new album" which "remains faithful to her past while shamelessly rising above it".

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, in a review for AllMusic, declared it as "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." He also felt that Madonna's endeavors in "True Blue" made it "[brilliant], using the music to hook in critics."

Erlewine found that the songs on the album had a poignant mixture of topics, which further solidied its popularity.

Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the album "the supreme archetype for late '80s and early '90s pop music.[...] Time stamped with '80s-era keyboard and drum synths, True Blue, though chockfull of hits, is the most dated of Madonna's albums."

He praised the album's songs for being more mature than "Material Girl", and said that the album "includes some of Madonna's greatest, most influential hits (the robust "Open Your Heart" and the timeless "La Isla Bonita"), but it's also home to some of her biggest clunkers."

Michael Paoletta from Billboard commented in 2001 that nearly 20 years after its debut, the album is still irresistible.

Entertainment Weekly reviewer Jim Farber said: "Though Madonna's third project finds her adding to her palette with Spanish pop ("La Isla Bonita") and messing with our heads with its seeming anti-abortion song ("Papa Don't Preach"). Also notable for 'Live to Tell,' her best ballad to date".

Robert Christgau was less impressed, accusing Madonna of pandering to the "lowest common denominator" of young listeners with ambiguous lyrics and over-promotion.

Robert Hilburn from Los Angeles Times stated that "True Blue isn't revolutionary music, but it is imaginative, highly energized pop that recognizes the limitations and pleasures of Top 40 fare."

Erica Wexler from Spin commented that "True Blue is Madonna's rite of passage between pop adolescence and a harsher adult world. With all her contrivances and the delighted tunes that I can't exorcise from my head, her mystique is still explained by the young beefcake who told me, 'I love to pump iron to Madonna'."

Promotion

Prior to the album's release, Madonna premiered "Love Makes the World Go Round" at the 1985 Live Aid concert.

The rest of the album's tracks were included on the setlist of her 1987 Who's That Girl World Tour except "Jimmy Jimmy" which remains still the only song from the album Madonna did not perform on any live appearance.

It was her second concert tour and promoted "True Blue" alongside the film project "Who's That Girl."

It was Madonna's first world tour, reaching Asia, North America and Europe. Musically and technically superior to her previous Virgin Tour, the Who's That Girl tour incorporated multimedia components to make the show more appealing.

Madonna trained herself physically with aerobics, jogging and weight-lifting, to cope with the choreography and the dance routines.

For the costumes, she collaborated with designer Marlene Stewart, expanding on the idea of bringing her popular video characters to life onstage, reworking scenes from "True Blue", "Open Your Heart", "Papa Don't Preach" and "La Isla Bonita".

The stage was huge, with four video screens, multimedia projectors and a flight of stairs in the middle. Leonard became the music director and encouraged Madonna to go with the idea of rearranging her older songs and presenting them in a new format.

Madonna named the tour "Who's That Girl" after looking up at a gigantic image of herself projected on a screen on the stage during rehearsals.

The show included song-and-dance routines and theatrics, seven costume changes, and an encore consisting of the title song "Who's That Girl" and "Holiday." The tour also addressed social causes like AIDS, during "Papa Don't Preach".

"Who's That Girl" was critically appreciated, with reviewers commenting on the extravagant nature of the concert and complimenting Madonna for her dancing, costume changes and dynamic pacing. It was a commercial success, grossing a total of U.S. $25 million, with Madonna playing in front of 1.5 million people over the course of the tour.

According to Pollstar, it was the second top female concert tour of 1987, behind Tina Turner's Break Every Rule Tour.

Two concerts from the tour were later released on music video "Who's That Girl: Live in Japan" (in 1987), which was exclusive to the Japanese market and "Ciao Italia: Live from Italy" (in 1988) which was released internationally.

Taraborrelli commented that "Many female artists behave like a diva for a period when they reach superstar status, and the 'Who's That Girl?' tour marked the beginning of Madonna's."

The tour is also noted for giving rise to the new Madonna persona, a stronger and more intelligent sexual image of her former self which had given rise to the term Madonna wannabe.

A statue of Madonna, wearing a conical bra was erected in her name, at the center of the town of Pacentro in Italy, where Madonna's ancestors used to live.

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