Open Your Heart was the first song recorded for the ‘True Blue’ album
Early recordings for albums – certainly back in the pre-digital era – were routinely abandoned as creative directions evolved, thanks in part to the restrictions artists faced on running times, which were limited by the amount of music that could be made to fit across two sides of vinyl. Open Your Heart was the first track to be recorded for True Blue, but producer Patrick Leonard (picking up the duties on the “Queen Of Pop”’s third studio outing) and Madonna cleverly added a heavy bassline to the mix that positioned it as a cut with club potential.
“It made me nervous as a writer,” admitted Cole. “Because a lot of times the very first song that gets cut doesn’t make it in the long run, but the song ended up making the album, which really opened up a lot of doors for me.”
The song continued Madonna’s dominance of the global charts
Released in the US on 12 November 1986 (and following on 1 December in the UK), Open Your Heart maintained Madonna’s phenomenal run of No.1 hit singles. While True Blue’s title track had peaked at No.3 stateside (after two consecutive No.1s, with Live To Tell and Papa Don’t Preach), Open Your Heart topped the Billboard Hot 100 on 7 February 1987. In the UK, the single made No.4, and it also topped the US club charts and European airplay listings.
Open Your Heart’s classic promo video represented an artistic step forward for the star
By 1986, the “Queen Of Pop” was also reigning over MTV, with her success driven as much by her masterful understanding of the new pop-video medium as by her music. For the Open Your Heart promo, Madonna collaborated with director Jean-Baptiste Mondino on a Los Angeles-based shoot that saw her explore her most ambitious artistic themes yet. With styling influenced by Cabaret, and a nod towards the Charlie Chaplin classic The Kid at the end, Madonna experimented with the politics of gender identity like never before; the more adult themes of her hit 1989 song Like A Prayer, and the theatrical flair of 1990’s legendary Blond Ambition World Tour both have their genesis here.
The clip wowed the critics, received nominations for three MTV Video Awards and is now regarded as one of the best Madonna promo videos, in a lengthy canon that contains many classics that stand among the greatest music videos of the 80s. Open Your Heart also gave a step-up to child model Felix Howard, the young boy who starred in the video and would go on to co-host British TV’s iconic music show The Tube.
The song opened 1987’s Who’s That Girl World Tour and became a live favourite
Open Your Heart was the first sight most fans got of Madonna on her first international tour. The Who’s That Girl World Tour, titled for the 1987 soundtrack album of the same name, opened in Japan in June 1987 and saw Madonna recreate the styling of Open Your Heart’s hit video – a look that is arguably one of the “Queen Of Pop”’s most familiar from her imperial platinum-pop reign of the late 80s.
The song turned up again on the Blond Ambition Tour, before being rested until 2012’s MDNA dates, for which it was radically reworked as a folk number. At her Super Bowl halftime show of the same year, Madonna sang snippets of Open Your Heart during the CeeLo Green segment. The “Queen Of Pop” also performed the track as part of the Celebration tour, which was billed as her first greatest-hits show and opened in London in October 2023. Revisiting some of the 1986 video’s iconic choreography, she used a chair once more as a dance prop.