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> Papa Don't Preach ● 30 Years, What I need right now is some good advice ~
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liamk97
post Jul 5 2016, 09:55 PM
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30 years ago this month saw 'Papa Don't Preach' become Madonna's second UK number one - a song that marked a shift in image, sound and status; the moment she transitioned "from pop tart to consummate artist".

There's no question as to who the star of 1985 was. Madonna's mousy hair and penchant for rubber bangles and fingerless gloves was emulated by young girls everywhere and her playful music soundtracked the year, culminating with Madonna being crowned 85's best selling singles artist. She had a winning formula and was simply unstoppable, yet it would seem the phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" isn't one that she is familiar with or at least cared to exercise. When songwriter and producer Brian Elliot offered her a song dealing with teenage pregnancy and abortion (hardly the foundations for a successful dance-pop song that Madonna was so renowned for at the time) she jumped onto the track. The message of female self-empowerment had struck a cord: this was a girl who wanted to be free to make her own decisions in life instead of living under her father's principles, but who was also keen not to unsettle the close relationship she had with him. Truth be told, this idea of encouraging freedom of expression and love was fundamentally the basis to all her songs previous, which eases the notion of this been a radical or, perhaps, contrived change.

The intro is a statement in itself. Madonna's always had a knack for hooking the listener and setting the tone within the first few seconds (see 'Dress You Up' and 'Lucky Star'), but there's something both so dramatic and exciting about the classical string arrangement that was so impressively compared to the work of Antonio Vivaldi. It sets the song apart from her back catalogue and indeed other pop songs at the time, making us pay attention and sit in a state of anticipation for the vocal. Madonna satisfies our suspense by exploring her lower range to assume the role of an expecting teenage, delivered with such serious conviction that you'd be forgiven for mistaking this to be an autobiographical song. Each lyric suddenly becomes alive and you can believe in each thought that's running through the character's mind: a battle of anxiety, a desire to do what feels right for herself and to keep her father's trust and respect in tact. The rawness in her voice at the pre-chorus mimics the lump in one's throat as they reveal unsettling news, before completely breaking down with a soaring "pleeeeaase" for a chorus that supplies a mix of defiance and desperation. It's quite unbelievable how such an array of heartbreaking emotion can be presented in a song that is equally as accessible in a club environment, but it succeeds in the latter with its verse-chorus-verse-chorus arrangement, its pop hooks aplenty, its dance melody (including a Spanish guitar instrumental that is all the more thrilling for being so unexpected) and its demand that every being must re-enact the towering pleads of its chorus.

Accompanying the musical developments was the equally as dramatic image makeover. Madonna had already presented a new look for 'Live to Tell' a few months prior - a cleaner, more conservative style - but her adoption of a 'gamine' look was one that set the tone for the whole era as well as helping her characterise the song's narrator in the music video. The depiction of a working class tomboy further brought the role to life and encouraged sympathy with the girl's situation as we followed, in what resembled a short movie, her meeting and falling in love with a 'bad-boy-imaged' car mechanic, realising she was pregnant and reflecting on the matter, before plucking up the courage to tell her father (played by Danny Aiello) about her choice to keep it. The extra parts to the story that aren't apparent in the lyrics showed that Madonna had realised you could elevate a song further through a video; a chance to be more specific, highlight things in a different light and reach out to wider audiences. It's the end of the video in a specifically-made outro where poignant scenes of the father symbolising his acceptance by hugging his daughter that really shows the benefit of investing in a single as complete package and not just part of the course of promoting an album.

Madonna had already received criticism for her music, with the likes of 'Like a Virgin' being seen to promote sex before marriage and undermine family values, but the controversy became political with 'Papa Don't Preach'. Feminist groups and organisation leaders were split, with some describing the song as a commercial for teenage pregnancy or an encouragement of dismissing the lessons and values of parents, whereas others appreciated the pro-life message. No doubt both arguments had misjudged the song, but Madonna took the whole fiasco in her stride, having already accepted the fact this was a song that "everyone [was] going to take the wrong way", and even capitalised on the debate by extending the subject of "papa" to all male authorities, most notably The Pope who had urged Italian fans to boycott her Who's That Girl World Tour the following year. That is quintessentially what makes Madonna, Madonna. Regardless of what criticisms people have of her or her work, she has the ability to push forward with humour and style, safe in the knowledge that her art is true to herself and has purpose, always with the underlying aim of entertaining.

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HausAlone
post Jul 6 2016, 06:05 PM
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heart.gif

True story, I was debating whether or not to come out to mum one day 2 years ago. As I was walking to work this song came on shuffle and it confirmed my decision for me. I spent the entire work shift thinking about the decision and whether I'd do it and I eventually did. It really was this song that gave me the final push at just the right moment so for me it's an eternally special song.

Away from that it's incredibly catchy and powerful and I'd love it even without the personal connection it has with me!
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Tawdry Hepburn
post Jul 6 2016, 07:41 PM
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This is pretty much Madonna at her most iconic I think, it's truly powerful.
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vibe
post Jul 7 2016, 08:09 AM
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Italians Do It Better is the most iconic moment for me.

I love how the nipple slips went unnoticed for years until you was able to watch the video on a computer.

Her love interest is probably imo is the sexiest that she has ever used ? Maybe that could be a future poll?
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Styles Bilinski
post Jul 7 2016, 01:01 PM
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Must admit that due to age, I was aware of the Kelly Osbourne cover version first kink.gif

Not one of her ultimate essential tracks for me but I still really like it and happily let it play.
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Joe ho ho!
post Jul 7 2016, 01:09 PM
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Most of you know how much I love this song. It's, vocally, instrumentally, thematically and melodically all so powerful and possibly a contender for my favourite song EVER.
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HausAlone
post Jul 7 2016, 05:03 PM
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QUOTE(vibe @ Jul 7 2016, 09:09 AM) *
Italians Do It Better is the most iconic moment for me.

I love how the nipple slips went unnoticed for years until you was able to watch the video on a computer.

Her love interest is probably imo is the sexiest that she has ever used ? Maybe that could be a future poll?

Once these celebrations are dont, that might have to happen! laugh.gif Let's be thirsty ~

QUOTE(Joe. @ Jul 7 2016, 02:09 PM) *
Most of you know how much I love this song. It's, vocally, instrumentally, thematically and melodically all so powerful and possibly a contender for my favourite song EVER.

heart.gif
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Regina
post Jul 7 2016, 05:05 PM
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It's weird, even though it feels dated now, it also doesn't feel that old laugh.gif Certainly not 30 years. I still love this. I remember my Mum playing this in my youth.
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liamk97
post Jul 9 2016, 01:24 PM
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QUOTE(Joe. @ Jul 7 2016, 02:09 PM) *
Most of you know how much I love this song. It's, vocally, instrumentally, thematically and melodically all so powerful and possibly a contender for my favourite song EVER.

I recommend you give this review a read: https://adsvinyladventures.wordpress.com/20...le-30-years-on/ I tried my best not to just copy this for my commentary but it's just so insightful and reads nicely and, above all else, captures perfectly why this is one of Madonna's best songs.
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HausAlone
post Jul 10 2016, 08:30 PM
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QUOTE(Regina @ Jul 7 2016, 06:05 PM) *
It's weird, even though it feels dated now, it also doesn't feel that old laugh.gif Certainly not 30 years. I still love this. I remember my Mum playing this in my youth.

It's just the right level of "old" for me, in that I know it is very old but as you say it certainly doesn't feel it because it's such a refreshing listen every time. The age factor enhances the song for me actually because it reminds me how forward thinking she was and how timeless it and its message is <3
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MARIAH.
post Jul 11 2016, 04:29 PM
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This is one of my absolute favourite Madonna tracks. wub.gif Maybe my second favourite "80s Madonna" song (behind Like a Prayer).

I agree with Regina/Bal, that despite this now being 30 years old ( ohmy.gif ) it really doesn't feel like it should be as old as that, there is a remarkable freshness to it.
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liamk97
post Jul 17 2016, 12:12 PM
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I agree with these comments too. It clearly has a recognisably 80s sound to it even if it was very inspired but, as always really, her delivery of the song makes it stand the test of time, as does the song's message. I said the same about 'Live to Tell' - it may be 80s in production but her vocal performances lifts it to an untimely level, which is one of the things I love best about Madonna's music: she uses her voice to the best of her ability to really push the song beyond just appreciating it at a superficial level.
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