Monday, May 27, 2019

"Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2781
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  42
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Newly minted superstar Madonna already had to her credit two big selling albums along with eight Top 10 hits including three #1's. She seemed to reinvent herself along the way and when it came time for her third LP, True Blue, people wondered if she could keep transforming. The LP's first single, the #1 ballad "Live to Tell," certainly made a statement that she was evolving as an artist. Next up was this album opening track that showed further signs of maturity. The string arrangement with its classical styling seemed like an attempt at attracting a wider age range of listeners while the controversial lyrics about teen pregnancy was not something common in pop music. The song nearly debuted in the Top 40 and two months later it was sitting atop the chart becoming Madonna's fourth #1. It was also her fourth gold record. The video for the song would earn her an MTV Video Award for Best Female Video.

ReduxReview:  With new producer on board, Patrick Leonard, Madonna's sound on songs like this and "Live to Tell" were more adventurous and dense. This certainly wasn't the same thin, early 80s dance-pop sound of her debut LP. Madonna was developing as an artist and it certainly showed with the first two singles from True Blue. She also had a more glamorous look with this album including the gorgeous Herb Ritts cover shot. Ever smart and savvy, Madonna knew early on that she had to stay ahead of the curve whether it be with her music or her persona/look/attitude. She would do that and more sometimes even getting way ahead of the curve. Madonna stepped up her game with True Blue and it cemented her status as the leading female artist of the decade.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Brian Elliot. The inspiration for the tune came from a conversation he overheard when some teen girls from the local high school were hanging out in front of his studio. Apparently, he intended the track to be used by an unknown artist named Christina Dent, but Warner Bros. exec Mo Ostin heard the song and wanted it for Madonna. She was presented the song and accepted it. However, she altered some of the lyrics to be more in-tune with what she wanted and that gave her a songwriting credit along with Elliot. As for Christina Dent, it seems she did some vocal work for other artists, but never got a solo career off the ground.  2) The video for this song featured actor Danny Aiello playing Madonna's father. Aiello had been in several films by this point in his career and even won a Daytime Emmy in 1981 for his role in an ABC Afterschool Special, but he wasn't necessarily a well-known actor to the public. He would become more recognizable after co-starring roles in 1987's Moonstruck (playing opposite Cher) and 1989's Do the Right Thing, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His appearance in the Madonna video raised his recognizably factor as well since it was heavily played on MTV. Following the success of the song, Aiello recorded an indie answer song titled "Papa Wants the Best for You." The tune was written by Artie Schroeck, a successful arranger and jingle writer. There was a video made for the song, but it went nowhere. It's an obscure relic from the time period.


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