Written by Gerard Ramos
ON September 21 Celebration, the latest greatest-hits collection of Madonna, hit the shelves of music stores around the world, marking the end of a defining era in pop music that began in 1982, when Warner Bros. Records first introduced the world to Madonna through its Sire Records label with “Everybody,” the first single off her eponymous debut album.
In October 2007 she signed a 10-year, $120-million contact with Live Nation, formally ending her long, extremely profitable and occasionally tempestuous relationship with Warner. In fact, in 2004, Madonna and Maverick Records, the label she founded under the terms of her Warner contract, sued Warner and its parent company Time Warner over questionable finances. In response, the company slapped Madonna with its own lawsuit.
However stormy the relationship sometimes got, it was nonetheless marked by 12 entries in Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart, seven in the Billboard 200 album chart, plus an unprecedented 40 entries in the Dance/Club Play chart—and, yes, the title track to her new greatest-hits album is her latest No. 1 entry on the list. Thrown in Madonna’s No. 1 entries in Billboard’s other charts, and the total pulls in at a staggering 146.
Not bad for a singer once dissed by Mick Jagger as sounding like “Minnie Mouse on helium,” and dismissed by everybody else as a one-hit wonder destined to quickly fade into obscurity.
Needless to say, it didn’t exactly play out that way. Not even close. This new greatest-hits collection by the most successful female music artist of all time doesn’t squeeze in all of those No. 1 entries, but it packs plenty of them along with apparent personal favorites of Her Madgesty. From her ’80s period are “Everybody,” “Holiday,” “Borderline,” “Dress You Up,” “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” “Into the Groove,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Live to Tell,” “Like a Prayer,” “Express Yourself” and “Cherish.” Madonna’s ’90s representations include “Justify My Love,” “Vogue,” “Erotica,” “Secret,” “Frozen,” “Take a Bow” and “Beautiful Stranger,” while her work in the new century is covered by, among others, “Music,” “Don’t Tell Me,” “Hollywood,” “Hung Up,” “Sorry,” “4 Minutes,” “Miles Away” and the two brand-new tracks in the package: the throbbing, thoroughly infectious title track and the slammin’ “Revolver,” a collaboration with Lil Wayne.
In “Celebration,” Madonna sings: “Put your arms around me/When it gets too hot we can go outside/But for now just come here/Let me whisper in your ear/An invitation to the dance of life.”
Which, for the most part, is what has defined our relationship with Her Madgesty: working up a sweat on the dance floor—in joyous abandon, in frenzied frustration, in perfect nihilism. Through our self-possessed, precocious adolescence all the way to our cynicism as adults, there was Madonna constantly in the soundtrack of our lives.
We danced because “something in your eyes is makin’ such a fool of me” (“Borderline”). Because we refused to “go for second best baby/Put your love to the test/You know, you know, you’ve got to/Make him express how he feels/And maybe then you’ll know your love is real” (“Express Yourself”). Because “when all else fails and you long to be/Something better than you are today/I know a place where you can get away/It’s called a dance floor, and here’s what it’s for, so...come on, vogue” (“Vogue”).
And even when we had exhausted ourselves on the dance floor and retreated to a café in Malate in the wee hours to sober up with the aid of blackest coffee, she made the perfect company as well, pointing out to us the “strangers making the most of the dark/Two by two their bodies become one” (“Crazy for You”). Cautioning us that “a man can tell a thousand lies/I’ve learned my lesson well/Hope I live to tell/The secret I have learned, till then/It will burn inside of me” (“Live to Tell”). Commiserating is our sorrow that “all the world is a stage/And everyone has their part/But how was I to know which way the story’d go/How was I to know you’d break/You’d break my heart” (“Take a Bow”).
It has been a “dance of life,” indeed, and our dance card hasn’t been used up. As Celebration’s new tracks suggest—as does her fabulous, motion sickness-inducing video of “Celebration,” complete with über-short Balmain dress and thigh-high Christian Louboutin boots, plus cameos from rumored boyfriend Jesus Luz and daughter Lola, which is included in the companion Celebration: The Video Collection—there is more to get us into the groove from the woman also known as Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.
Written by Gerard Ramos