“Papa Don’t Preach” is a song by American singer Madonna from her third studio album True Blue (1986). The song was written by Brian Elliot with additional lyrics by Madonna, and produced by Stephen Bray and Madonna. The song also appears remixed on the 1990 compilation album The Immaculate Collection and in its original form on the 2009 compilation album Celebration. The song’s musical style combines pop and classical styling, and its lyrics deal with teenage pregnancy and abortion. It was based on teen gossip Elliot heard outside his studio, which has a large front window that doubles as a mirror where schoolgirls from the North Hollywood High School in Los Angeles regularly stopped to fix their hair and chat.
Released as the album’s second single in mid-1986, the song was a commercial success. It became Madonna’s fourth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and performed well internationally, reaching the top position in the United Kingdom and Australia. It was well received by music critics and was frequently cited as a highlight in the album. The music video, directed by James Foley, shows Madonna’s second image makeover, featuring her with a more toned and muscular body, and cropped platinum blonde hair. It portrayed a storyline where Madonna is trying to tell her father about her pregnancy. The images are juxtaposed with shots of Madonna dancing and singing in a small, darkened studio, and spending a romantic evening with her boyfriend.
Shortly after its release, the song caused heated discussions about its lyrical content. Women’s organizations and others in the family planning field criticized Madonna for encouraging teenage pregnancy, while groups opposed to abortion saw the song as having a positive pro-life message. Madonna has performed “Papa Don’t Preach” in four of her world tours, most recently The MDNA Tour in 2012. The song also caused her first conflict with the Vatican, as she dedicated it to Pope John Paul II, who urged Italian fans to boycott her concerts during the Who’s That Girl World Tour in 1987. In 2002, British singer Kelly Osbourne recorded a hard rock cover of the song which was included as a bonus track on her debut album Shut Up.