Review: ‘Celebration’ by Madonna

After a career 26 years long – and one that shows no sign of stopping any time soon – it seems fitting that Madonna closes out her time with Warner Bros. Records with a new, career-spanning greatest hits compilation.

With 34 hits included in the appropriately titled Celebration, plus two new songs, Madonna manages to cover most of the eras of pop music the singer has covered throughout her career, highlighting her own significant contributions to pop music.

Rather than stick with a chronological order, the album mixes in songs from different periods of Madonna’s career together. While this doesn’t always completely gel (the closing four numbers of “Die Another Day,” “Don’t Tell Me,” “Cherish,” and new track “Celebration” are too sonically dissimilar), it does make for some intriguing strings of singles (see the opening quintet of “Hung Up,” “Music,” “Vogue,” “4 Minutes” and “Holiday”).

The double-disc set manages to hit most of the biggest hits of Madonna’s career, while still leaving out more than a few key tracks. In all fairness, pretty much any single released by Madonna in the 80s and early 90s was bound to hit the Top 10, and the vast majority did so. It’s no wonder that, of the 36 songs featured, a full 18 come from the 80s alone. The album pulls all of Madonna’s 80s singles from her first compilation, The Immaculate Collection, and adds four songs from the decade.

Meanwhile, of the remaining 18 tracks, eight are culled from the 90s, and 10 (including the two new tracks) come from this decade. While the periods are represented by less material (Erotica’s “Deeper and Deeper” is especially missed), the tracks selected largely prove Madonna’s staying power in pop decades into her career.

The only real weak parts of the album come from a pair of newer singles that don’t quite fit in, and from the two new singles for the album. While an attempt to represent each of Madonna’s albums is notable, selecting American Life’s “Hollywood” over the title track and Hard Candy’s flop “Miles Away” over “Give It 2 Me” feel odd – though sonically, they at least fit somewhat in the collection.

The true weak parts come with new songs “Celebration,” which feels too much like a dated remix (thanks to co-producer and DJ Paul Oakenfold), while “Revolver,” featuring a guest appearance from Lil Wayne, feels a little too much like Britney Spears’ “Radar.” Shouldn’t the copying be going the other way around?

Regardless, though, the hits that make up the album hold up surprisingly well, making this career retrospective a worthwhile investment.

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