This song is about teenage pregnancy. Madonna takes the voice of a confused teenager who wants advice from her father at a difficult time. In a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, she said: "It just fit right in with my own personal zeitgeist of standing up to male authorities, whether it's the pope or the Catholic Church or my father and his conservative, patriarchal ways."
The line "I've made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby," caused anti-abortion groups to praise Madonna and abortion-rights groups to criticize her. Madonna refused to take a stance on the issue.
Madonna called this "a message song that everyone is going to take the wrong way."
This was one of the most controversial Madonna songs. Many articles were written about it in the context of abortion. The media attention helped make it a hit and keep it on the charts.
A producer named Brian Elliot wrote this song for a new artist he was working with named Christina Dent, who was on the same label as Madonna. When a record company executive heard it, he convinced Elliot to give it to Madonna instead, because she was an established star.
This was one of the first Madonna songs to take on a political issue. Her previous hits, like "Holiday," "Borderline," and "Lucky Star," stayed well clear of controversy.
The video featured Danny Aiello as Madonna's father. He recorded an answer song from the father's perspective called "Papa Only Wants The Best." Aiello was mostly unknown at the time, but went on to star in Do The Right Thing and Moonstruck.
Around this time, Madonna was working out and had a more toned body that she showed off in the video by wearing a tight black outfit. It was rumored that you could see her nipples when she leaned back.
Ozzy Osbourne's daughter, Kelly, recorded this with Mike Einziger and Jose Pasillas from the group Incubus for the soundtrack to The Osbournes, an MTV show about Ozzy's home life. Kelly's mom, Sharon Osbourne, asked her to do it. Her version peaked at #74, making it the first instance of a cover of a Madonna song reaching the Hot 100. Osbourne's rendition also reached #3 in the UK singles chart.
The guy who plays Madonna's boyfriend in the video is Alex McArthur, who is featured in the Desperado
movies. (Thanks, Linda - Oudenaarde, Belgium)
In it's review of the album True Blue
, Rolling Stone
magazine referred to this song as "Madonna's Billie Jean
." Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" had a similar theme, about a pregnancy complicating people's lives. Jackson has been called "The King Of Pop," while Madonna has been referred to as "The Queen of Pop."
Rock critic Dave Marsh gave this song a glowing review: "that ultimate rarity - a message song that opens with Beatles-esque cellos that you can dance to."