The sun would set so high, ring through my ears, and sting my eyes.

Jun 15, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Mature pop music, catchy, silly in a good way. Live to Tell.

Cons:Some songs are better than others.

The Bottom Line: It's her best album. Geeet it.


Madonna's a chameleon, and she first proved this in 1986 when she went from being an unruly twenty-something teenager to a some form of weird blond pin-up girl from the 1950s. She, along with Deborah Harry and Cyndi Lauper, started the trend of thrift store fashion, thousands of necklaces, and sticking pantyhose in hair. But just as the craze was at its lovely atrocious peak, she took off all her bangles and showed her newer look and newer sound. Still undeniably 80s, Madonna was once again ahead of the curve, updating her teen-pop sound for a more adult audience, creating the exact opposite of 1984's Like a Virgin; though the lyrics may have been a little more juvenile in comparison, the overall sound was cutting edge, combining mall-pop with serious adult contemporary and dance music. The end-result was True Blue, an album both dedicated and titled for her then-husband, hot-headed actor Sean Penn. At the time of release, it solidified the woman's career, proving she wasn't just a teenage phenomenon. A neatly primped and polished Madonna sat alone in a dark room and sang Live to Tell, an honest ballad that hit #1, showing her versatility and talent. This was a new stage of her career, one that would give her some much needed respect.

True Blue is a very short, compact record, clocking in at only nine songs. Arguably, this album got the most publicity of any of her records, with eight of them being performed live, five of them released as hit singles, and four of them earning a place in history on 1990's The Immaculate Collection, her first official best-of release. The first glimpse of a mature Madonna may have the eerily desperate track Live to Tell, but it was Papa Don't Preach that shocked the world (in more ways the one). Dressed in a black halter top and capri pants, this now buxom blonde with a masculine hair cut twirled about a black stage, singing of teenage pregnancy and her desire to not have an abortion. Madonna was both praised and shunned for a myriad of reasons: on one hand, she was sending teenage girls the message that they can make their own decisions; on the other hand...she was sending teenage girls the message that they can make their own decisions. At this time, Madonna began to use the concept of "sex" in a new way; on her tours, she would preach the dangers of AIDS and the pleasure in safe sex. This was just the tip of the iceberg. The smooth production has a shiny 80s gloss to it, played over a now iconic classical music sample. The clever kitsch to True Blue is echoed on fan-favorite Open Your Heart (a song she currently destroyed during a request session on her latest tour), the catchy (yet forgotten) title-track, and the campy Where's the Party, a track that now sounds horrendously outdated, but is still full of that 80s-Madonna glory: We can make it alright! We can make ya dance! We can make the party last all night! Slow down! You move too fast; gotta make the good times last! Gonna let my hair hang down! I'm ready now!

The only song to have been completely shunned from this record is Jimmy Jimmy, which got a dreaded b-side treatment, and is now known as one of the worst Madonna exploits. This stupid Debbie-Gibson-esque pop song draws strong inspiration from 1950s pop music. It's a horrendously stupid song, but the catchy hooks and speed synth licks kind of remind me of something you'd hear in Hairspray. Definitely not her greatest track, but within the context of this well-packaged album, I'd say it just makes sense. Love Makes the World Go Around was only performed one time publicly, but it's still a fantastic pop song that is very much a sugar-coated version of the material Janet Jackson would do in 1989 on Rhythm Nation 1814. There's a hint of Spanish influence there as there is on the well-known fan favorite La Isla Bonita, which has been in the spotlight as of late, being performed on her last two world tours as well as at Live Earth in 2007.

JUDGING
True Blue is the perfect Madonna album; it's the perfect pop album. It's got catchy lyrics, a susinct sound and package, amazing songs, and a real attitude and vision. The songs on this record proved to be timeless, with many of them being remixed and reinvented on Madonna's subsequent tours. Though quite tame in comparison with the smokey Like a Prayer or the explicit Erotica, this album is a powerful statement told in the form of very, very cheesy pop songs.
Papa Don't Preach (5 Stars)
Open Your Heart (5 Stars)
White Heat (5 Stars)
Live to Tell (5 Stars)
Where's the Party (4.5 Stars)
True Blue (5 Stars)
La Isla Bonita (5 Stars)
Jimmy Jimmy (4.5 Stars)
Love Makes the World Go Around (5 Stars)

OVERALL SCORE: 5 STARS (4.88+)

OTHER MADONNA REVIEWS
1982 - Madonna
1984 - Like a Virgin
1984 - Angel/Into the Groove (CD Single/12")
1986 - True Blue
1987 - You Can Dance
1987 - Causing a Commotion (CD Single/12")
1990 - The Immaculate Collection
1992 - Erotica
2003 - American Life
2005 - Hung Up (Single)
2008 - Hard Candy


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