True Blue


Sire Records, 1986

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For Madonna, 1986 was a year of transformation. She had survived the scandal of having nude photos of her published in Playboy (in fact, she may have been peeved that she didn't beat the skin magazines to the draw), she changed her look from tenny-bopper queen to platinum-blonde vixen like Marilyn Monroe, and she released her most ambitious album to that point, True Blue.

She had a major chance to break out of the dance-club musical theme she had painted herself into (and had started to break out of on her previous effort, Like A Virgin). And for over half the album, Madonna is able to create a whole new musical image for herself, but ends up slipping back into mediocrity by the end.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The opening song (and first single), "Papa Don't Preach," still has as strong of a message today as it did in 1986, and could still be as controversial as it was - a song about unmarried lovers who end up conceiving a child, and the girl's decision to keep her baby. (The video for this song became infamous for the single-frame shot of Madonna's nipple coming out of her top - a scene you can't see without a real high-end VCR.) The song was innovative for Madonna as her first real effort to make a pop-rock song, and it works.

The very next song, "Open Your Heart," is a return to dance music for Madonna, but it is one with more than a two-chord beat and a catchy rhythm. The same can't be said for "Where's The Party" later on the album, which was typical dance-music fare of the time, and is bland.

"Live To Tell," originally featured in the movie At Close Range, is the highlight of this album. Though it wasn't her first attempt at a ballad, it is easily Madonna's best to that point. The emotion, the belief in what she was singing - it's all there, and is a true picture of Madonna's power as a singer.

The title track is a light foray into doo-wop for her, and is somewhat enjoyable. However, once you get past this song, the remaining three songs erase all the progress she made on True Blue. "La Isla Bonita" is a weak attempt at multiculturalism, and the remaining two tracks are what we call in the field "filler" - meant to take up extra space on an album, almost always with half-assed tracks. These are no exception.

And this, my friends, is a pity. Madonna had a prime chance to break away from the light-weight dance image she had created for herself. She had the chance to become a serious pop artist, even if she chose to occasionally integrate a dance beat. (She would eventually achieve this goal.) That's why I find True Blue to be so disappointing - I see what could have been. This could have easily been Madonna's best album.

You can find all the hits on her greatest-hits collections... which kind of makes picking up True Blue a waste unless you're a die-hard Madonna fan.

Rating: B-

User Rating: C



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.