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OPINION: Amateur Album Reviews: ‘True Blue’

Madonna mystifies me

A cassette of Madonna’s “True Blue” is at home in a recycling bin on Feb. 1, 2024. While I want to get rid of this album, it deserves better than the trash. // Photo by Eli Voorhies

I may not be welcome in my home after this article is published. 

All three of my roommates love Madonna. Over the past two weeks, we launched into a series of debates – somewhat friendly, more parts fiery – over her music. It culminated with them trying to talk me out of writing this article.

Aggravating the people closest to me is worth telling the truth: I just don’t get Madonna.

That being said, I see this review as a chance to find some common ground with the “Queen of Pop.”

This week, I am bashing – sorry, giving a fair assessment of Madonna’s third album “True Blue.” I chose this particular album for no other reason than my roommate owning it on cassette.

“True Blue” has a handful of chart-toppers. This tells you nothing because the same could be said about all of Madonna’s albums. 

There is a reason Madonna is the best-selling female artist of all time – though I still can’t find that reason in her music. 

Madonna’s first two albums, “Madonna” from 1983 and “Like a Virgin” from 1984, established her disco sound, iconic image and provocative approach, according to Albumism

If you’ve heard “Material Girl” or even better, watched the music video, then you know what I am talking about.

Released in 1986, “True Blue” stays in touch with Madonna’s roots but makes a radical shift from her prior albums. It also happens to be her best-selling album. 

This is still a disco album, with percussion that urges you to get on your feet and dance. But compared to her prior releases, “True Blue” sounds like a plate fresh out of the dishwasher or shiny red fingernails – clean and polished.

Two things kill me about “True Blue.” 

Number one, the songs are so repetitive it’s ridiculous. 

In the song “Where’s the Party,” Madonna asks “Where’s the party” a total of 24 times, averaging a “Where’s the party” once every 10 seconds. If you found that series of “Where’s the party”s repetitive, then try surviving the song. Somebody find her the party!

Number two, I find the song lyrics to be devastatingly boring. 

The songs range from light-hearted topics such as a beautiful island in “La Isla Bonita” to heavy-handed topics like world hunger and prejudice in “Love Makes the World Go Round.” 

Each topic is addressed in the same dull manner, falling flatter than graphene (a single plane of carbon atoms and the flattest thing known to mankind). 

You could stop after reading the title of her songs because that’s all you’re going to get out of them. 

In “Love Makes the World Go Round,” Madonna sings “‘Make love, not war,’ we say. It’s easy to recite. But it doesn’t mean a damn unless we’re going to fight. There’s hunger everywhere. We’ve got to take a stand.”

Keep in mind this is to the tune of something reminiscent of an upbeat Dora the Explorer song. I genuinely believe that the same age group enjoying Dora could say something more worthwhile about world hunger. 

While I may not enjoy Madonna’s music, she deserves props for the legacy she cultivated and her progressive beliefs. 

Similar to Prince, her daring pop counterpart of the ‘80s, Madonna just had one of those names. Not to mention it was given at birth, which I am quite envious of. 

Her name is especially fitting due to its irony.

“Madonna” suggests the Virgin Mary, the patriarchal stereotype of a pure, virtuous woman. In contrast, the Queen of Pop challenged societal norms around women. She was a shining example that you don’t have to act the way people expect you to or dress the way people want you to.

Nobody else was dressing like Madonna at the time. 

She could throw on a glamorous pink slip dress one day, a spiraling conical Guatier bra the next and, my personal favorite, a black t-shirt that read “Italians Do It Better.”

Madonna’s bold style and lyrics were met with controversy, according to The Irish Times

At the beginning of her career, she struggled to be taken seriously as an artist, which acted as ammunition for “True Blue.” 

In the album’s cover image, she appears seductive and divine. Her songs maintain a healthy dose of erotica, empowering women’s sexuality in the face of a patriarchal society. 

On top of that, “True Blue” tackles political issues. 

“Papa Don’t Preach” is about a girl seeking support from her father after deciding to keep her baby. Teen pregnancy, especially in a more conservative ‘80s America, was often shunned. This song sparked much-needed conversations, according to American Songwriter

Another song I can tolerate is “Jimmy, Jimmy.” While it is repetitive with lowbrow lyrics, its catchiness just barely carries it over the hump. 

The beginnings and ends of the songs are what I appreciate most about this album. 

The intros are an inquisitive opening bite into my first-ever flan. “Mmm delicious!”  

The outros are the final triumphant gulp after finishing the vegetables my mom forced me to eat as a picky child. “Thank god it's over!”

Since “True Blue,” Madonna has hardly left the spotlight, pumping out an album nearly every two years. She continues to feature on music from pop artists, such as the Weeknd’s “Popular.” At 65 years old, Madonna just completed her 2023 Celebration Tour, performing to sold-out crowds.

While writing up these reviews, I have made it a tradition to listen to the respective album, isolating myself with the music. 

At this very moment, I am listening to “True Blue.” 

With every metallic punch of my desktop keys, conjuring up scathing words, my foot is simultaneously up to something sneaky – involuntarily drumming to the songs. 

If I sound conflicted at all, it's because I am. I want to hate “True Blue.” I think I hate “True Blue.” Then again, my foot won’t stop waving.


Influence: 10/10 Gold Doubloons

“True Blue” was a massive hit. It took Madonna to even greater heights, redefined her image and tackled difficult issues, particularly around sexism in America. 

Longevity: 5/5 Spotlights

Madonna is still the highest-selling female artist and “True Blue” is her most-sold album. This album signaled a change in her music’s direction. Since then, Madonna has regularly released albums and has been committed to evolving her sound. 

My Taste: 1/10 Taste Buds

This album review made me realize I was missing a section – my personal taste. In prior reviews, the ratings I gave on influence and longevity aligned with my reaction to the album. But when it comes to “True Blue,” I vow to never listen to it again unless forced to.

Eli Voorhies

Eli Voorhies (he/him) is the opinions editor this quarter. Previously, he was a city life reporter and editor. In his free time, he climbs, photographs and spends more time messing around than working at Legendary Vinyl Records. You can reach him at 

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