Back in March, it was announced that Madonna would be releasing a definitive greatest hits collection as her final work with Warner Music. As the promotional tagline for the album suggests, Warner have compiled “34 songs that have changed the world,” along with two new tracks. Contrary to the unrealistic expectation of most fans – myself included – Celebration is aimed at a general music audience. As a result, requests for obscure tracks to be included, like Gambler, Hanky Panky, the Re-Invention Tour mix of Nobody Knows Me or the re-working of Erotica from the Confessions Tour are nowhere to be seen. In the end, the album compiles Madonna’s finest moments of her career with some small surprises thrown in.
The promotional campaign for the CD prides itself on the fact that the older material has been completely remastered, and as a result, some of the tracks have never sounded better. Open Your Heart and Into The Groove now have a freshness they have never had. Also, the stereo landscape in many of the older tracks has been expanded. Hearing Madonna ask at the beginning of Vogue, “What are you looking at?” and now having it pan from the left to the right channel adds a little something extra to the track after almost twenty years.
The changes aren’t all for the best though. Express Yourself sounds terribly tinny, and should immediately be replaced with The Immaculate Collection version on anyone’s mp3 player. The compilation also includes some forgotten Madonna classics. Once ignored tracks like Everybody, Dress You Up and Who’s That Girl make reappearances, and it’s great to hear them again completely remastered.
It must be said that although this is more a compilation marketed for a general audience, some of the choices and omissions on the track listing are still rather strange. The inclusion of Miles Away over Give It 2 Me from Hard Candy perplexes me. And not including True Blue, Bedtime Story, Get Together, Jump or even American Life seem like rather large omissions when every track included on The Immaculate Collection, bar Rescue Me, makes an appearance here. There also isn’t much consistency in regards to what versions of songs are used on the two discs. Some tracks are the original album versions, which can run up to six minutes long, some are radio edits, and others are completely new cuts. It would have been nice if some of the longer tracks like Frozen, which runs at over six minutes, were cut down a bit to make room for some of the songs that were left out.
Madonna has entertained us all for decades, and Celebration is a great way to wrap up her career so far. Listening from start to finish, the listener is reminded just how great her work is. Yes, some of her newer stuff pales in comparison to her classic 80s material, and this becomes very obvious when it is mixed together, but the woman still produces music that is leagues ahead of her contemporaries. The two new tracks, Revolver and Celebration are also both great songs that are worthy of their place in Madonna’s cannon. Celebration wholeheartedly deserves its place in any pop music lover’s collection, and it is a great way to celebrate Madonna’s career so far.
Celebration is available through Warner Music September 28.
Watch Celebration here: