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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Different Shades Of True Blue

Today is Sunday, February 5, and for millions of you out there reading this, today is a big day. It's Super Bowl Sunday, and I imagine that many of you are putting the finishing touches on your Super Bowl parties.  You know what I mean...buying nachos and salsa for snacks, making a run to the liquor and beer stores, laundering your sports jerseys and setting up the 55-inch big screen television to watch the game in style.  Some people get incredibly obsessed with the sport of football, and the Super Bowl is the granddaddy of all games.
This year marks the forty-sixth Super Bowl, and I’m sure that Giants and Patriots fans all over North America are waiting in anticipation for the opening kickoff.  But, there’s one person that I know of who has absolutely no interest in the game.


Some people who are reading this blog entry right now might believe that by admitting this, I’m giving up my ‘man card’, but I have never liked watching sporting events on television.  Mind you, I never liked playing sporting events either, but that’s a different tale altogether.  But, I just can’t bring myself to sit in front of a television watching a sport that I really have no interest in.  That’s not only limited to football either.  That could apply for any sport, like golf, tennis, wrestling (though some claim it’s not really a sport), baseball, basketball, and hockey.

(I can’t even begin to tell you all the dirty looks I get from my fellow Canadians when I tell people that I am not a hockey fan!  It’s almost equivalent to ripping out their still-beating hearts and stomping on them with spiked shoes.)

But the way I see it, we all have our interests and our likes.  I’m just not a sports fan.  I’ve never been skilled in any sports (save for maybe volleyball and bowling), and I’ve never liked watching them.  But, that’s just me.

That’s not to say that non-football fans can’t enjoy the Super Bowl.  Many do.  The game does provide a chance for people to get together and socialize, and nobody can deny that it’s one of the best days for people to fill up on pork rinds, chicken wings, and pepperoni pizza.  There’s also those Super Bowl commercials that cost millions to make, but yet are some of the most creative and eye-catching ones ever made.  I know several people who tune into the Super Bowl just to see the commercials alone!
And then there’s always the halftime show.  During the first few years of the Super Bowl, the halftime shows usually showcased marching bands, but in recent years, the halftime shows are headlined by an artist or band.  The tradition for huge stars performing at the Super Bowl began roughly around the early 1990s, as artists like Gloria Estefan and New Kids On The Block performed.  But it wasn’t until 1993 when Michael Jackson performed the halftime show that ratings really skyrocketed for the event.  Since then, at least one big-named performer has been tied to the event.

Other artists who have performed at the halftime show in past Super Bowls include Prince, Shania Twain, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, The Black Eyed Peas, and Janet Jackson (who along with Justin Timberlake was responsible for coining the term ‘wardrobe malfunction’).
This year’s Super Bowl is no exception, as the artist featured in the halftime show today is one of the biggest selling female artists in history. 

I’m talking about Madonna, of course.
With Madonna being the headlining entertainer at the Super Bowl, she certainly has a huge selection of songs that she could perform.  Though the final list of songs hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, word is that she is set to play her newest song "Give Me All Your Luvin", as well as two or three classic favourites.

I bet there’s one song though that Madonna will choose not to sing.  After all, the last time she performed today’s Sunday Jukebox entry live in concert was reportedly back in 1987!  The song itself comes from the album cover that I posted earlier in this blog.
The album ‘True Blue’ could be considered Madonna's most successful album, selling 26 million copies overall..  I actually have this album in my own personal music collection.  It was the biggest selling album of 1986, and of the nine singles that were recorded for the album, five of them were released and became huge hits.  The first release from the album, “Live To Tell”, was a number one smash, as were “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Open Your Heart”.  That’s right.  “True Blue” spawned three number one hits, the most of any album Madonna has ever released.  A fourth single, “La Isla Bonita”, cracked the top five, peaking at #4 in 1987.

As for the fifth single, it was released third, in between “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Open Your Heart”.  It also did very well on the charts, peaking at #3 (and reaching #1 in Canada and the United Kingdom).  Yet, it’s also a song that is more or less forgotten, and is very rarely performed by Madonna.  Why is that?
First, let’s see the video for the song. of the videos that is.

ARTIST: Madonna
SONG: True Blue
ALBUM: True Blue
DATE RELEASED: September 29, 1986

(Now do you see why I’ve made this entire blog entry in blue?)

Like other Madonna albums, the title track of the "True Blue" album became a single.  Released in September 1986, this version of the video was the one that I remember watching.  Madonna dancing in front of a blue background with dancers wearing blue (one of whom is played by actress Debi Mazar), and well, the whole video was

But, it wasn’t the only music video made for this particular single.

The version up above was the professional version that Madonna had filmed for the international market, directed by James Foley.  But during the summer of 1986, a contest was held by MTV.  All viewers had to do was create a video for Madonna’s “True Blue” video, and if they won, their video would premiere on MTV and become the official American version.  If you like, you can click on THIS LINK to watch the commercial advertising the contest, as well as the prizes associated with winning.
(I know $25,000 doesn’t seem like a lot now, but back in ’86, it was definitely worth its weight in gold.  And Peanut Butter Twix!  Do they still make those?  And, hey, remember Madonna before the British accent?)

Ahem...back to the blog entry.

Thousands of people ended up submitting entries to the contest, and each one was filmed with various ideas in mind.  But the winning entry was the one directed by Angel Gracia and Cliff Guest.  And, although it took me some time to find the alternate copy of “True Blue”, I did find it posted online.  You can watch the alternate version below.

I don’t know about you, but I happen to find the MTV contest version to be great.  I think it actually tells more of a story than the video that Madonna made herself.  Viewers of MTV seemed to enjoy the effort made by Gracia and Guest as well, as “True Blue” quickly became one of the most requested videos on MTV during the last few months of 1986.
So, “True Blue” had done incredibly well on the Billboard Charts, and was one of the few singles to have two different music videos, both of which were very well received by the general public.

So, why is “True Blue” largely ignored by Madonna in concert?
The answer is quite simple if you read between the lines.  As mentioned before, I have the Madonna album “True Blue”, and opening up the liner notes that are included with the album, there’s a rather interesting dedication located within.  Inside, the following message appears.  “This album is dedicated to my husband, the coolest guy in the universe.”

And, who was Madonna married to at the time that she recorded “True Blue”?

For anybody who guessed actor Sean Penn, you win!  Unfortunately, I have no prizes to give out, but you still win!  YAY!  J
The relationship between Madonna and Sean Penn was well-documented in the press, and the two got married on August 16, 1985, which coincidentally was Madonna’s 27th birthday.  The two starred in the film flop, ‘Shanghai Surprise’, and Madonna recorded “True Blue” specifically with Sean in mind.  “True Blue” was a standard bubblegum pop love song to most people, but Madonna wrote the song specifically for Sean.  And during 1986, at least, it seemed as though Madonna and Sean Penn were very much the perfect couple, highly devoted to one another.

By 1988, however, the marriage would completely break down.  Notorious for having a short fuse with the paparazzi, Sean Penn frequently got into physical fights with reporters and photographers, even ending up serving 33 days of a 60-day sentence in jail in 1987 for assaulting a photographer on a film set.  There were also reports of Sean Penn being arrested for domestic assault while married to Madonna, of which Sean pleaded to a misdemeanor.  But, by that point, Madonna had enough.  The couple split up in 1988, the divorced finalized in 1989.
Although there was something that I always wondered.  The same year that Madonna divorced Sean Penn was the same year she released her “Like A Prayer” album that Madonna has said was the most personal one she had ever recorded.  Given that was the case, and given that the album was recorded in 1988 – the last full year that Madonna and Sean Penn were still legally married – I wonder if the unreleased song “Til Death Do Us Part” was Madonna’s own personal account of what the last few months of her marriage really was like.  Certainly, if “True Blue” was written at a time when she was at her most happiest with Sean, it would only seem natural that she would also sing a song that was written when it was all falling apart.

Of course, both Madonna and Sean Penn moved on since their split.  Madonna ended up dating several men (and rumoured to have had an affair with Sandra Bernhard, which Bernhard later confirmed was not true), before marrying British film director, Guy Ritchie in 2000.  Guy and Madonna’s marriage was twice as long as Madonna’s first marriage, the union lasting eight years before they split up in 2008.  Madonna is now seeing someone who is reportedly less than half her age.  As for Sean Penn, he ended up finding love with actress Robin Wright.  They began dating shortly after his marriage to Madonna ended, and they got married in 1996.  But although the couple’s marriage was filled with separations and reconciliations, the couple divorced for good in the summer of 2010.
As for the reason why Madonna hasn’t sang “True Blue” in concert in twenty-five years?  I don’t know if she actually provided one, at least publicly.  But just going on pure speculation alone, would YOU want to sing a love song associated with a tumultuous and stormy relationship...especially if you were one of the people involved in the relationship?  I can’t speak for Madonna, but I know if I were in a similar situation, I doubt very much that I’d look at the song the same way again.

But then, Madonna could very well perform the song at Super Bowl XLVI, and make me eat these blue-tinted words that I just typed out. 
Time will tell, I suppose.   But at least you now know about the different shades of “True Blue”.

BONUS QUESTION:  What’s your favourite shade of blue?  I’m partial to cerulean myself, but I thought I’d just pose this question anyway to encourage discussion.  J


  1. OMG!!! Cerulean? Really? That is my favorite shade of blue!!

    Actually, I have two... cerulean, and cobalt.


    1. Cobalt is a great choice too. I just picked cerulean because it seems to be the Crayola crayon colour that ends up getting used the most!