Madonna / Celebration [2 CD Retrospective]


Celebration

Celebration is the third greatest hits album by American recording artist Madonna, and the closing release under her contract with Warner Bros. Records, her record company since 1982.[1] The release follows her two previous greatest hits albums, The Immaculate Collection (1990) and GHV2 (2001).[2] The compilation was released in many different formats including a one-disc edition and a deluxe double disc. A compilation DVD, entitled Celebration: The Video Collection, was released to accompany the audio versions. The album includes three new tracks, the title track, “Revolver” (featuring Lil Wayne) and the bonus track on some editions “It’s So Cool”.

Celebration was appreciated by contemporary critics who noted the vastness of Madonna’s back-catalogue. The album debuted at the top of the charts in Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Madonna became tied with Elvis Presley as the solo artist with the most number-one albums in the United Kingdom, though this tally also includes the soundtrack album Evita which features other artists. In the United States, it debuted in the top ten of the Billboard 200 at seven. In other nations, it debuted within the top ten. The title track was released as the first single of the album. It became Madonna’s fortieth number-one song on Billboard‘s dance chart. “Revolver” was released as the second single from the album, but failed to achieve commercial success.

Disc One:

Hung Up—-The collection begins with some of Madge’s later recordings and her most successful in years. Hung Up is a nice blend of both classic Madonna and dance floor fueled Eurotrash. The french production includes a bit of vocoder, swirling synths and a decadent bass line!!!

Music—-Continuing much in the same vein as the last track, this only convinced the public that Madonna had no intention of giving into age or the changing scene of the Music Industry. This was a ‘comeback’ so to speak, and she did it all rather very well. Again with the french production team and the added sounds of the evolving European Music Scene….this is not a favorite, but has become a classic!!!

Vogue—-Returning to and reminding us of the ‘second’ heyday of Madonna, this was a track that swept the entire globe with its contagious delivery and a fantastic video and dance to go along with it. Madonna still relied on the 80’s synth line of deep swirls and house sounds for this track…even now, it still sounds rather fresh after not listening to it for such a long time. Classic Madonna right here!!!

4 Minutes—-The pairing of two of the world’s biggest superstars was pure management genius and resulted in nothing less than a worldwide smash. With the personalities of both Timberlake and Madonna clashing over a huge Timbaland beat, how could you possibly fail? This is one for history…still plays incredible well and sounds like a huge Clash Of The Titans!!!

Holiday—-Jumping back to the very early Madonna days when she was a quasi-club kid hanging on every bit of advice given to her by Warhol and his entourage, this only served to let the world know that this Detroit girl was going to be a huge star. With classic 80’s beats and a swirling synth line that betrays the time, this was so popular in the gay clubs all over the world…we know stardom when we see it!!!

Everybody—-Another song that betrays the time of the recording, this slight Electro sounding track is still fresh despite the aged beats. Madonna urges us all to join her on the floor and lose control…with the bass synth, it is rather easy to do so. Still sounds rather remarkable.

Like A Virgin—-Like GaGa after her and bowie before her, Madonna is a master at marketing and making a gimmick to promote her music. This classic track is no exception. Using MTV as a pedestal, Madonna produced a video that propelled her to even greater heights. This has never been one of my favorite songs….perhaps I heard it just a bit too much…none the less, this is the quintessential classic dance track!!!

Into The Groove—-This is a bit dated as well, but one of those early songs when I realized that perhaps this girl was here to stay. The vocal is so much better than the earlier things she had done and we hear the first production of that deeper tone of hers that I like so much. This is classic 80’s pop…but still sounds remarkable and makes me want to dance even now!!!

Like A Prayer—-Fueled by a religious overtone and a video that made it overt, this still remains one of my favorite madonna tracks she has managed to produce. the sentiment was so real for me as I struggled with both my sexuality and my religion. It stands the test of time incredibly well and she was triumphantly successful with this. This only helped make her an even bigger superstar!!!

Ray Of Light—-The title track to my favorite Madonna record thus far released, this was a HUGE hit…and not even the best song on the CD. The increasing beat and the Euro-sound makes the track ultra contagious. the remixes for this song are breathtaking and the vocal, in my opinion, is one of the best of her career. A huge hit out of the ballpark and down the street!!! This is brilliance!!!

Sorry—-Another of those tracks that really dug into my brain cells and decided to live there for years, this has so much of the fancy French production that you just knew when you first heard it that it would be huge. madonna has made few musical missteps in her career…she knows what sounds good and what will sell well. She obviously was right again with this one…still love this track!!!

Express Yourself—-This really fell flat for me when it was released. This is still very low on my list of Madonna classics…just never really found a place for me in her catalog. I much prefer the Gaga ‘remake’…..LOL!!!

Open Your Heart—-Led by another marketing coupe with a cute video, Madonna captured the masses with this track. This is another track of hers that really features that deeper tone of her voice that almost makes me feel euphoric…I love it when she sings in that tone. Despite the dated 80’s sound, this is an incredible track with a huge great message!!!

Borderline—-Another 80’s track that manages to play well without seeming to dated, it is the opening strains of the song that really get me. The introduction of the song takes me back to that carefree and joyous time in my life when I had not yet discovered the burden of responsibility. For a song to make you still smile after all of these years is an accomplishment….because music matters!!!

Secret—-Acoustic in nature and featuring that contra-alto vocal that works so well for madonna, this is another very favorite track of mine. This is moody, rather dark and exquisite with deep synth lines and emotion. This is fantastic…I may have to listen to this twice!!!

Erotica—-Featured as a new track on the first Hits collection, Madonna further cemented herself in the hearts of popular culture even more. This is sexy, dirty and quite damn wonderful!!! With familiar 90’s synth lines that were everywhere at the time, Madonna made them her own by her overt sexually suggestive lyrics and breathy voice. This was a triumph and carries a whole other set of memories…this is classic!!!!

Justify My Love—-Also offered as a new track on The Immaculate Collection, this was a WORLDWIDE SMASH….and is still in my top 5 Madonna tracks. I have about every remix of this song you can find anywhere. This is sexual, seductive and at times pretty dirty…but also expressive and full of longing. This is Madge at her best!!!

Revolver [featuring Lil’ Wayne]—-Offered as a new track on this massive collection, Madonna joins forces with the hottest star of the current time to rather mediocre results. For me, this track never really got off the ground….as a matter of fact, I rather dislike this song….it is replayed current music and sounds way to much like a lackluster Britney track.

Disc Two:

Dress You Up—-Another of those early tracks that Madonna used to further her career at the expense of MTV and the annual video awards. No one can deny the brilliance of the woman when it comes to marketing and promoting herself with outrageous behavior and costumes. This sounds a bit dated, but again brings out that deeper tone of her voice I love so much. Rather nice!

Material Girl—-Perhaps the one song that is identified as making this woman a household name, the video and the ensuing live performances proved to the world that Madonna was here to stay. This is still jaunty and exciting…as I listen back on it now, it seems hard to imagine her singing this with much gusto now, but why abandon a shining star….this still shines!!!

La Isla Bonita—-Another very favorite track of mine, this song found an instant place on my playlist simply because it was so different from anything she had produced up to that moment. the tone of voice, the tropical music and the gentle breeze that flows through the song…is still fresh and magical to me. A pure triumph!!!

Papa Don’t Preach—-with a brilliant video, some rather emotional live performances and a rather sedate track for the Queen Of Pop, this is another track that remains on my playlist to this day. I never get tired of the emotional quality of the voice….the message of the lyrics and the undeniable contagion of the synth line. Masterful!!!

Lucky Star—-A track that catches Madonna at her earliest and trashiest. This still reminds me of the later Warhol days and his proclaiming that this youngster was going to be a huge star…when Andy spoke, people listened. This is far to bubble gum for my taste, but it is still hard not to sing along….

Burning Up—-Reminding me of a long-lost Human League track from the onset, this falls a bit flat for me. this sounds rather dated and less than stellar as I listen back on it now. This lacks a certain energy that the Queen always produced in her songs…oh well, you still can’t argue with brilliance can you?

Crazy For You—-Still in my top 10 favorite Madonna tracks, this ballad shows the force and talent of Madonna at her finest. This is heartfelt, emotional and can produce a lonely feeling even after all of these years. This only proved to the wold that this girl could really sing…just a stellar track!!!

Who’s That Girl—-The title track to this filed Motion Picture, the song fared about as well as the movie. this should not be on this release….was this a hit????

Frozen—-also taken from Ray Of Light, this is still one of my very favorite tracks ever produced by Madonna. This is so emotive, full of intensity and has the ability to make me incredibly sad if I catch it at the right moment. This is brilliant in production…there seems to be layers and layers to the music on the song. And the vocal is stellar….taking me to a place I don’t visit often!!!

Miles Away—-This was refreshing to me the first time I ever heard it. It has a unique sound…the French Euro beats combined with a slight acoustic guitar is rather genius. The lyrics are real and relateable…and madonna sounds fantastic…the vocal over lays are incredible…another track I really enjoy hearing from time to time!!!

Take A Bow—-I think, these days, Madonna is at her best when she involves herself in these more heartfelt ballads. this reminds me so much of classic Carpenters….yes, I said it!!! This is exquisite…full of heart ending lyrics, deep emotion and a sadness that makes you wonder what inspired this track. This is genius!

Live To Tell—-Without a doubt, my favorite #1 Madonna track and video….the live versions of this song are rather heart wrenching for me. This is real as real gets…Madonna had a worldwide smash with this track…delivered it in person like no one could imagine and made a lasting impression on millions of people the world over. This is still fresh, new and wrenching…..never forget!

Beautiful Stranger—-This begins with a rather joyous refrain…..full of typical Madonna musings…but the slight Electro feel to the song allows it from becoming anything but ordinary. Madonna is laid heavily on top of the vocal…full of a powerful vibrato that makes me smile and ponder again what inspired this track. This is stellar!!!

Hollywood—-Another of those songs that fell way under the radar for me in the career of Madonna. This has never really found a solid place for me in my favorites from the Queen. To me, this is lackluster and lacks a certain energy that I have come to expect from her. This is not bad, but just not a favorite of mine.

Die Another Day—-What can be better than recording the title track for a 007 movie…..but this falls a bit flat as well. same as the movie did if I recollect correctly. This is too generic to really find a place for me…this is predictable and a retread of 30 other songs that Madonna pulled off otherwise well.

Don’t Tell Me—-This is fantastic, I love this track. the stop and start, the stutter and the missing beat here and there keeps your attention. The stripped down feel of the song allows Madonna to showcase her voice incredibly well. When the swirling synths arrive over the acoustic guitar, you are amazed still at the versatility of the woman who is Madonna!!!!

Cherish—-Ugh…..never liked this track, and it sounds no better to me now than it did then. this is way to bubble gum for me…..next…..

Celebration—-Another new offering released with this retrospective, this has a nice Pet Shop Boys deep house sound that runs through it. I love this track…Madonna continues after all of these years to prove that she is still a force and still relevant. There is little wrong with this track…as Madge prepares to once again enter the studio, she must feel pressure. Can she out-GaGa GaGa……let’s wait and see…..

**** 3/4 out of 5

 

 

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