Celebration is Madonna’s third greatest hits package, spanning her thirty–year career. She has also released collections of remixes and ballads, as well as eleven studio albums and several film soundtracks. A two-disc compilation, showcasing such a prolific artist, seems almost minimal. It is accompanied by a double DVD featuring nearly fifty videos.
The cover, by street artist Mr Brainwash, is striking, if perhaps too obvious a riff on Warhol’s Marilyn. But Madonna is an icon in her own right, and Celebration’s booklet includes some of the best artwork on any of her albums. Browned newspaper featuring printed lyrics are overlaid by images from Madonna’s many incarnations; there are montages, a Banksy-style billboard, and my own favourite, a young Madonna surrounded by smashed records.
The artwork recreates the New York club scene of the 1970s and 80s where Madonna found her niche. That spirit of ‘reinvention’ has echoed through the following decades, and sets her apart from her imitators. Now she is a phenomenon on the scale of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson – the only woman in that select club, and by far the most provocative.
Some critics would argue that Madonna’s true genius lies in marketing, but the music tells another story. While the Beatles split acrimoniously, and Michael and Elvis faded away, Madonna remains a dominant force, running ahead of the pack. Continue reading