1985 was Madonna’s annus mirabilis, barely a week passing without a saucy New York dance-pop nugget brightening up the UK charts. She bagged eight Top 5 hits, including bona fide breakthrough ‘Like A Virgin’, ‘Holiday’ recharting 18 months after its initial Top 10 appearance, first No.1 ‘Into The Groove’ and the utterly forgotten ‘Angel’. Try and sing it, go on. So the slutty Material Girl angle was all sewn up; now it was time for the serious artiste.
We’d already had the ever-so-earnest ‘Live To Tell’, but ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ was the big one. A rather less trashy tackling of her Catholic guilt than ‘Like A Virgin’, it was real, honest and oddly – paradoxically – innocent. Dramatic too. ‘Like A Prayer’ would scare the horses, but ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ is the raw truth. Madonna was still fresh and unpredictable and winningly rounded too, not the skin-smeared Terminator we blanch at today.
Taken purely at face value, ‘Papa…’ is an easy singalong, but Junior might just have seen it as an oblique way of telling me to shut up. We can salute creativity like that. We also found the song good for call and response – “Papa preach?” “Papa DON’T preach!”
Pressed on the actual quality of the record, Junior declared it “good.” A future in music journalism awaits.
Some good advice: