The album was recorded from December 1985 to April 1986, during the first year of Madonna's marriage to American actor Sean Penn.She dedicated the album to Penn, "The coolest guy in the universe." Deemed Madonna's most girlish album yet, True Blue deals with Madonna's view of love, work and dreams as well as disappointments.It became the world's top-selling album of 1986, as well as the best-selling album of the 1980s by a female artist.With estimated sales of over 25 million copies worldwide, True Blue remains one of the best-selling albums of all time."I don't write dance music and I don't see it as contributing to the cultural growth of the world," grumbled Pat Leonard in 1992."At the time we were doing the groove stuff on the True Blue album, it was semi-innovative. God forbid that I might have contributed to the mess we're in now." The Spanish "La Isla Bonita" and "Love Makes the World Go Round" deal with escapism from normal life, with the latter talking about anti-war and anti-poverty and using Latin drums and samba-influenced rhythms.Madonna made a demo of the song; when the film's director, James Foley, heard it, he asked Leonard to write the score for the film, as suggested by Madonna.
The album's singles and their accompanying music videos have sparked debates among scholars and social groups.The songs on the album reflect this and a number of instruments were used in the songs to bring out the different moods which the lyrics emphasized."Papa Don't Preach" features acoustic, electric, and rhythm guitars, keyboards, and string arrangements.The album features instrumentation from acoustic guitars, drums, synthesizers and Cuban musical instruments.The topic for the songs range from love, freedom, and in the case of "Papa Don't Preach", social issues like teenage pregnancy."I was down in the basement with these idiot muso friends, working on a tune," Leonard recalled in 1992. And that ended up being one of the tracks on True Blue." Madonna wrote or co-wrote every song, although her involvement on ones such as "Papa Don't Preach" and "Open Your Heart" was limited to adding lyrics.