Celebrate with Madonna

By Justin Park

Madonna commemorates three decades of pop supremacy with
“Celebration,” a two-disc greatest hits album that documents the
highs and lows of her legendary career.

Despite “Celebration” being Madonna’s third compilation, the
track list casts a wider, comprehensive net than the constrictive
snapshots of the 1990’s “The Immaculate Collection” and 2001’s
“GHV2.”

In lieu of recycling previously released material, the
collection offers two new songs of dichotomous quality, perfectly
summing up her inability to deliver on a consistent level as she
once did with relative ease many years ago.

The title track utilizes a Euro-dance groove, similar to that of
2005’s “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” in a manner that would put
vapid amateurs like Lady Gaga to shame.

“I guess I just don’t recognize you with your clothes on,” she
intones during the song’s breakdown, followed by a snide
chuckle.

On the flip side, “Revolver,” a collaboration with Lil Wayne, is
the audio equivalent of diarrhea as his love for Auto-Tune
eradicates whatever relevance it may have had as a genuine
song.

Like Van Halen’s “The Best of Both Worlds,” “Celebration”
resembles an inebriated drive into oncoming traffic where the track
list appears to have been hastily stitched together from the
resulting wreckage.The record commences with 2005’s “Hung Up,”
running rampant through 2000’s “Music” and 1990’s “Vogue” before
committing more chronological havoc.

Regardless, each decade is represented well, particularly the
anodyne hits of the mid-1980s, as fans are served with the
opportunity to revisit the good, the bad and the ugly with
“Holiday,” “Cherish” and “Borderline.”

However, some tunes are surprisingly absent, such as 1986’s
“True Blue,” a love letter to then-husband Sean Penn, which ranks
as one of her most optimistic times before the late 1980s, which
set the stage for a more incendiary personality.

1989’s “Like A Prayer,” an ode to oral sex cleverly disguised
as a pop hymn, attracted the ire of zealots who misgauged and
condemned the song as a slight on religion.

The accompanying music video, featuring a Black Christ,
stigmata and burning crosses, exposed the public to a pop artist
who challenged the status quo and fooled with the insecurities of
the sensitive public.

Her controversial antics continued throughout the early 1990s
with the unabashed sexuality of “Erotica” and “Justify My Love,”
namely its videos, which MTV banned almost immediately upon
release.

Although Madonna has since abandoned her lascivious persona,
“Celebration” proudly highlights this unique era where she
shattered taboos with a few suggestive lyrics and images.

Curiously, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” and “You Must Love Me”
from 1996’s Evita soundtracks are excluded from the compilation,
the latter of which nabbed an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for
Best Original Song.

As Madonna meandered into severe midlife crisis, the quality of
her output from 1998’s “Ray Of Light” onward suffered dramatically
as she developed a shameless reverence for mock spirituality, Pro
Tools and faux English accents.

Although nearly 40 singles are omitted due to the constraints of
the format, the restriction proves fortunate for newcomers who are
spared the agony of songs such as “What It Feels Like For A Girl”
and her disastrous rendition of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

Unfortunately, a slew of grave offenders such as “4 Minutes” and
“Die Another Day” remain, reminding fans that modern legends like
Madonna refuse to end on a high note and would rather milk every
creative outlet dry.

“Celebration” may not be a definitive retrospective, but it
should appeal to those seeking a solid, introductory sampler of
Madonna’s illustrious career.

Celebrate with Madonna

Celebrate with Madonna

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