First Hit #1: August 16, 1986
I’ve been unkind to Madonna for the most part, but then again I don’t think she really came into her own as an artist until True Blue. Hey look, the first big hit from True Blue, Papa Don’t Preach, and the first Madonna single that I can completely get behind. A dance song about teen pregnancy, which is a decidedly weird combination that works anyway, Madonna finally seems completely invested in the song. She’s trying to portray a conflicted young woman, a mix of surface confidence and supreme insecurity that is difficult to accomplish successfully. She’s actually invested in the character she’s portraying, she steps a little bit out of her regular cool and collected persona to actually become invested in the characters she’s trying to bring to life. You get the sense that she has finally decided that she finally wants to be something more than a slick pop star, and even if the lyrics are a bit Degrassi Junior High, it’s still probably the first time I’ve felt Madonna had a clear connection to the material, as well as a clear desire to present it in the best light possible.
It’s strange that a song about immaturity is the first sign that an artist has grown up, but it works.