September 26, 1986
The song "True Blue" enters the Billboard singles chart.
Single by Madonna
From the album True Blue
B-side: "Ain't No Big Deal"
Released: September 29, 1986
Format: 7", 12", CD single
Recorded: December 1985
Label: Sire, Warner Bros.
Writer(s): Madonna, Stephen Bray
Producer(s): Madonna, Stephen Bray
"True Blue" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was released as the third single from her third studio album, True Blue, on September 29, 1986 by Sire Records. Originally written by Steve Bray, the song deals with the feelings of Madonna for her then-husband Sean Penn. A dance-pop song, it features instrumentation from a rhythm guitar, a synthesizer, keyboards, and drums. The main chorus is backed by an alternate one incorporating a chord progression generally seen in doo-wop type of music.
Received by the critics as a light-hearted and cute retro song, "True Blue" topped the charts in UK, Ireland and Canada and became another consecutive top ten song in U.S. for Madonna by reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The original music video portrayed her again with a new look, leaner and sporting platinum blond bushy hair. An alternate video was made through the "Make My Video" contest on MTV. The final selected videos had a similar theme of 50s inspired setting and the storyline following the lyrics of the song. "True Blue" was performed only once on the subsequent Who's That Girl World Tour.
Writing and inspiration
The song was written and produced by Stephen Bray with a co-writing credit by Madonna. According to Madonna, "True Blue" takes its title from a favourite expression of her then husband Sean Penn and to his very pure vision of love and was a direct tribute to him as well as the album, which was as a whole inspired by her "unabashed valentine" for Penn. In an interview, Bray said, "She (Madonna) was very much in love. It was obvious if she's in love she'll write love songs. If she's not in love she definitely won't be writing love songs."
"True Blue" is a dance-pop song inspired by the Motown's girl groups from the 1960s which are considered the direct antecedents of Madonna's musical sound. The song is composed in the key of B major. It is set in compound quadruple meter, commonly used in doo-wop, and has a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. "True Blue" features instrumentation from a rhythm guitar, a synthesizer, keyboards, and drums for the bassline, with a basic sequence of I-vi-IV-V (B-G♯m-E-F♯) as its main chord progression.
Madonna's vocal range spans a bit less than one and a half octaves, from F♯3 to B4. The chorus is backed by sounds of bells ringing, an alternate verse—"This time I know it's true"— which is sang by three back-up singers during the interlude, and a bass counter melody which introduces her vocals during the second chorus. The lyrics are constructed in a verse-chorus form, with the theme being Madonna's feelings for Sean Penn; it even uses the archaic love word "dear" in the line "Just think back and remember, dear"
"True Blue" had two music videos to accompany it. Shot in early September 1986 in New York, Madonna's own video for the song was directed by James Foley, who worked with Madonna in her videos for "Live to Tell" and "Papa Don't Preach", produced by Robert Colesberry and David Massar with photography by Michael Ballhaus. The Foley version features Madonna with three dancers and a 1950s car in an all-blue diner. Madonna changes her hairstyle from short-cropped in "Papa Don't Preach" to a bushy platinum blonde hairdo and sings the song in choreographed moves backed by her dancers. It displays a flashing back to fifties rock'n'roll youth culture.
The blue background changes to a sunny one as she sings "The sun is bursting right out of the sky" to go-along with the lyrical meaning of the song. Two of Madonna's close friends, Erika Belle and Debi Mazar appear in the video. The video was released at a time when she was going through a failed marriage with then husband actor Sean Penn. During this period, Madonna focused on more traditional fashion and attitudes and tried to appear more respectful of traditional gender roles. After shedding her trampy sex-kitten and boy-toy image with the "Live to Tell" music video, Madonna again adopted a new look for this video. Madonna attended aerobics classes at Hollywood health centre The Sports Connection, which was responsible for her toned down look in the video.
"Make My Video" contest
Sire Records decided to opt for a promotional device in the United States that would involve MTV viewers to make their own videos for "True Blue". In the fall of 1986, MTV asked its viewers to submit their own videos. The contest was known as "Madonna's 'Make My Video' Contest". The winner was awarded a trip to MTV's New York studio where Madonna presented a $25,000 check live on MTV. Thousands of viewers submitted their recorded tapes which were mainly made using home-made video equipment and featured themselves or relatives as the actors. MTV publicist Peter Danielson said that many of the submissions featured teenagers imitating Madonna. All the entries were shown in a continuous run on MTV as promised. The same song was played over and over for the whole day, but each time with a different video made by the finalists. Author Lisa A. Lewis said that this event emphasized the effect Madonna had on different kind of audiences due to the popularity and response to the contest. MTV selected ten finalists based mainly on a standard of popularity rather than slickness of production or concept creativity.
The concepts used in the videos were wide ranging and included a number of different ideas to interpret the lyrical meaning of the song. The final three entries selected, portrayed a fifties-style production referring to the thematic content of the song. The song's narration about "True Love" formed the basis of the rest of the semi-finalist videos but was used in very different ways. The videos were choreographed featuring heterosexual romance, though no particular male or female protagonist was singled out. Some even adopted a kind of literal montage technique rather than structuring the video around a narrative line.
The winning entry was by Angel Gracia and Cliff Guest and it showed the female protagonist (played by the director's sister Anabel Garcia) being supported and guided by her girlfriends who introduce her with the male protagonist. The girl even goes to the boy's door to gift him flowers, thereby reversing the usual gender-directed pattern of gift-giving. The male protagonist is portrayed as a "perfect boy" (played by William Fitzgibbon) having the sensibilities like attentiveness, cuteness, playfulness like a friend (after the lyrics "You're my best friend") and not sexual overtones. The video in-turn contrasts him with a self-centered boy who puts on sunglasses, throws his leather jacket over his shoulder and walks away from the girl. Other videos portrayed a girl pining for her sailor, U.S.-Soviet relations and an arguing couple with the girl in a scene inspired by the music video of Tina Turner's 1984 single "What's Love Got to Do with It". (Wiki)
Formats and track listing
7" Single (Europe)
"True Blue" (Remix/Edit) – 4:22
"Holiday" (Edit) – 3:50
7" Single (Japan/U.S.)
"True Blue" – 4:16
"Ain't No Big Deal" – 4:12
7" Single (Re-Issue)
"True Blue" – 4:16
"Live to Tell" – 4:37
12" Single (UK)
"True Blue" (Extended Dance Version) – 6:37
"Holiday" (Full Length Version) – 6:08
12" Maxi-Single (U.S.)
"True Blue" (The Color Mix) – 6:37
"True Blue" (Instrumental) – 6:56
"True Blue (Remix/edit) – 4:22
"Ain't No Big Deal" – 4:12
Germany / UK CD Maxi Single (1995)
"True Blue" (The color mix) – 6:37
"Holiday" – 6:10
CD Super Club Mix (Australia/Japan)
"True Blue" (The Color Mix) – 6:37
"Everybody" (Dub Version) – 9:23
"Papa Don't Preach" (Extended Remix) – 5:45
"Everybody" (Extended Version) – 5:56
"Live to Tell" (Instrumental Version) – 5:49
September 26, 2003
Q Magazine releases its special Madonna issue.
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