For those that don’t know me, I love 80s music. It’s the music of my childhood. Not my actual childhood, but the childhood that my parents curated for me. Both of them being between the ages of 10 and 19 during the 80s, the music of this decade is the very essence of my parents. And, since it is their essence, it’s inevitable that some of their love for 80s music would rub off onto me.
I’ve been a fan of Madonna since I was 12 years old, when I discovered the song, “Material Girl,” for the first time. I used to play the music video on my mom’s laptop over and over again while I was doing my homework. At age 16, I became more of a fan of Madonna as an artist, rather than just a fan of a few of her songs. When my dad and I had to go to Columbus to pick up my first car, I brought along CDs of the greatest hits of Cyndi Lauper and Madonna to christen it.
My favorite Madonna album is her third studio album, True Blue. Released in 1986, Madonna had just come off of the smash success that was Like a Virgin. She had completed her first national tour, and starred in her first feature film. “Madonna Mania” was in full swing. For her next album, Madonna wanted to appeal to a more grown up, sophisticated audience. This was the first time the world saw Madonna reinvent herself and put forth a new image. With short, platinum hair and the world at her feet, she was ready to put out what would be one of her best albums.
Many of the songs on the album True Blue were pop songs that talked about social issues that nobody else was really talking about at the time. The first single, “Live to Tell,” talks about childhood trauma, and the lyrics of “Papa Don’t Preach” discuss teenage pregnancy. The overarching theme of the whole album, however, is love. Madonna had just been married to her first husband, Sean Penn, in 1985, and most of the songs on the album reflect that “honeymoon phase” mindset. The title track is a 50’s doo-wop influenced song about her feelings for Penn. “Open Your Heart” is a song that expresses sexual desires. The title of the final track on the album, “Love Makes the World Go Round,” is pretty self-explanatory as well.
The album manages to be both diverse and cohesive. “Papa Don’t Preach” infuses classical music into the track, with the use of a strings section that works perfectly and doesn’t seem out of place. “True Blue” and “Jimmy Jimmy” are both 50s and 60s inspired tracks, but still manage to feel fresh, at least by 1986’s standards. “La Isla Bonita” and “Love Makes the World Go Round” both have a Latin influence. “White Heat” and “Where’s the Party” are both upbeat dance tracks that were a staple of the 80s.
Overall, True Blue is one of Madonna’s best albums, if not, the best. If you love 80s music as much as me, I’m sure you know most of the singles off of this album, but give the whole thing a listen. There are definitely some hidden gems on there.
One of the greatest albums of all time!