Madonna news - Sep. 2009

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29 September - Come join the party, Mad-Eyes reviews Celebration
Today, Madonna's Celebration compilation album is available in all American music stores, after hitting the shelves in Europe and other markets last week. To celebrate the occasion, the Mad-Eyes team is reviewing this ultimate hit collection. After months of speculation about the tracklist, we are treated to 34 hits plus two new songs, spread over a double disc album, and a double DVD assembling a massive 47 of her music videos.

Celebration (1CD) Bartie: Some months ago, I didn't really expect much from this compilation. I assumed it'd be a single disc GHV3 with a handful of hits. I'm quite excited that the actual result is such a full and career spanning hits album.
Dani: Of course, with so many hit singles, it's virtually impossible to satisfy every fan's wishlist. Myself, I thought I'd be missing some hits, but after listening to the 36 tracks, it felt quite complete.

Bartie: Personally, I'd have preferred a higher representation of the Erotica and Ray Of Light albums, and of course I'm missing my favourites Jump and Rescue Me. But I'm not the complaining type of fan. According to our recent poll, the fans miss mostly Deeper And Deeper, Give It 2 Me, Rain, True Blue and American Life.

Dani: At a first glance, the sequencing seems rather random, like GHV2, but after you give it a listen, it works very well. Miles Away, for example, gets the chance to shine between the ballads, while on Hard Candy it was overshadowed by dance tracks. Erotica and Justify My Love together complement each other perfectly.
Bartie: Chronological order would've reminded too much of The Immaculate Collection. This way, it proves how her old and new hits can blend together. Vogue fits well with the 3 megahits that challenged its majestic chart status. Hearing Like A Prayer and Ray Of Light together, you don't notice the 9 year gap, but of course we already heard that duo together on tour.

Dani: The fact that Madonna went into the studio to record new material, was already a treat for fans. The result was two infectious dance tracks that celebrate Madonna's way of getting everybody into the groove!
Bartie: Well, they're no competition for the new tracks of Immaculate, but they're indeed catchy. Revolver actually grew more addictive than I expected.

Dani: While all tracks are digitally remastered, some benefit more than others. Some oldies don't sound as dated as on their original album; such as Lucky Star with its funky guitar licks or the rocking Burning Up. But not even remastering can save Who's That Girl.
Bartie: Hey, I like Who's That Girl, leave her alone!
Dani: Unfortunately, some edits seem to have been done in a rush. In Music you can hear some 'vinyl pops' and in Erotica it even skips a beat.

Bartie: I'm happy with most of the versions used on the album, such as the LP version of Like A Prayer. Ray Of Light is still butchered though, like on GHV2. And the abrupt ending of Don't Tell Me came as quite a shock at first.
Dani: I'm glad that certain songs are included in their full glory, like the sassy Beautiful Stranger and the gorgeous Take A Bow.

Celebration (2CD) Bartie: As for the art work, it would've been nice if we had gotten some new photography.
Dani: I disagree, a retrospective does not need new pictures and Mr. Brainwash created some fantastic art work, which I consider among her best ever.
Bartie: Maybe best ever is a stretch, but I do prefer it over GHV2.

Bartie: The DVD tracklist was actually a big shocker. I never expected such an extensive video list from Warner. Only Bad Girl, Drowned World and Nothing Really Matters are important omittions, but hey we have those on 93:99.
Dani: Well, it's a bit disappointing that Warner didn't keep their promise of remastering all videos, and using a single layer disc doesn't guarantee a top quality. The promised unseen footage of Justify My Love is nowhere to be found, and it even gets censored nineteen years after its premiere!
But when I got my copy yesterday and watched some of my favourite videos, Open Your Heart, Rain, Take A Bow, Bedtime Story, The Power Of Good-Bye, Hollywood, 4 Minutes, all in great quality. It's a fantastic treat to have Express Yourself in its full-length version here and I can't help to love the instrumental bit played in the menu of the album version, which is actually surprising since the Stephen Bray version was written out of her history by now.
Bartie: Since the DVD is not available in Belgium, I still have to be patient for a few days till my Amazon UK delivery arrives; can't wait!

Bartie: Madonna fans are hard to please, but in my opinion this whole collection is way above expectations and a great way of Warner to say good-bye to their most successful female artist.
Dani: For once, I agree with you :) What a way to celebrate a quarter of a century of this immaculate career!
~ Give us your rating of the album and the DVD.

29 September - Madonna returns to YouTube
Google Inc.'s YouTube reached an agreement with Warner Music Group Corp. that will bring artists including Madonna and Metallica back to the video-sharing site. Warner Music will be able to sell its own ads on the site and the "vast majority" of the revenue will go to the record label, Chris Maxcy, director of YouTube Partner Development, said today on a conference call. (source: Bloomberg)

28 September - Celebration review: Rolling Stone gives 4 stars
What? No Hanky Panky? Is this some kind of a joke? Given how obsessive her fans are, it's a thankless task for Madonna to assemble a two-CD hit collection. But from the opening one-two of Hung Up and Music, two of her best ever, Celebration kicks off with pure bliss and never lets up. It's a dizzying, nonchronological spin through the Madonna years, years it makes you feel lucky to be living through. Her hitmaking genius is unmatched and — with the new Eurocheese blast Celebration and the Lil Wayne duet Revolver — undiminished. It's almost enough to make you forget that they left off Angel, which is just plain crazypants. (rating 4/5 stars, by Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone)

27 September - Celebration is Madonna's 11th UK #1 album!
The UK always loves a great compilation of a music legend, so no surprise Madonna's Celebration explodes at the top of the British album chart this week with sales exceeding 77,000 copies (which is just 17k shy of Hard Candy's debut sales). As it becomes Madonna's 11th chart topper set, she equals Elvis Presley and now they both share the second place among all artists with the most UK #1 albums, second only to the Beatles. Let's hope other countries honour this greatest hits with more chart success!
To clarify: sales of the single and double disc sets are merged together for chart purposes, but the double disc counts as one copy when purchased, except for United States RIAA certifications where a double disc is counted as two copies shipped.
Additionally, on the singles chart Celebration drops 3-8 while the other 2 new songs, It's So Cool and Revolver appear at #107 and #170, respectively, due to some iTunes cherry-picking.

27 September - Celebration review: Prime Madonna
In the 26 years' worth of videos on Madonna Celebration: The Video Collection, the global pop icon inhabits more memorable personalities than Sybil. The two-disc set of 47 videos (the companion to her newly remastered hits on CD), out Tuesday from Warner Bros., is a must-have for anyone who ever wore fingerless gloves, a fake lip mole, or a wedding dress to a nightclub.

"Thinking about them brings home the huge range of her work," says William Orbit, her longtime collaborator and the three-time Grammy-winning producer behind Ray Of Light, the seminal single in Madonna's electronic trip. The one she's still on. Her new single, Celebration is her 40th No. 1 hit, this time topping Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Chart. Orbit is most fond of her more recent videos for Frozen and Bedtime Story, though he concedes that the bubble-gum clips from the '80s "certainly get better with time." It's the old vs. young Elvis debate for a new generation, minus the obesity and addictions.

Whether she was wearing a simple hipster skirt in Burning Up or flashing more mesh and fishnet than all of Hong Kong Harbor in Lucky Star, the fashion she defined in the early '80s is today's American apparel. Her gender-bending, crotch-grabbing, cross-burning, rule-breaking raunchiness were the source materials for the pop star playbook studied today by Katy Perry, Lady GaGa and the like. And at the height of MTV's golden age, she embraced music videos like no one else.
She mimicked Marilyn (Material Girl) and flippantly defiled the pristine white paint job on a Datsun 280z (Borderline). She starred in her own mini-dramas (Papa Don't Preach, La Isla Bonita), and has been a power blonde, a sultry brunette and virtually every tint and temperament in between.

This $30 collection includes every phase — even her duds. The Live To Tell video, for example, features interstitial scenes from Sean Penn's snoozer "At Close Range" proving she must have truly loved him once. Into The Groove, from her own vehicle Desperately Seeking Susan, on the other hand, has some classic images: Madge cooling her sweaty pits in a bathroom hand dryer? Check. Her dancing with that poet-shirted, Flock of Seagulls devotee? Check.
Then there's Madonna the blasphemous in Like A Prayer. "Pet Cemetery" director Mary Lambert provides the blood-weeping false idol and Madonna provides a sinfully titillating cleavage dance in front of a milieu of burning crosses. It's as offensive today as it was in '89.

Disc 1 deftly recaps Madonna's button-pushing era. She dons a suit and grabs her junk for director David Fincher in Express Yourself, then straps on bondage gear (or goes au natural) in Justify My Love and Erotica.
Disc 2 is a portrait of the artist as a grown-up disco diva. The fast-forward Ray Of Light video is like legal Ecstasy. But awkward moments in her pop-culture history are strangely repeated. The video for the Grammy-winning tune Beautiful Stranger, written with Orbit, features Madonna making out with Austin Powers in his Union Jack-themed Jag, for example.

There's plenty of genre-hopping, too. The country-ish Don't Tell Me segues awkwardly into What It Feels Like for A Girl, a slice of ultra-violence directed by Madonna's then-husband Guy Ritchie and banned by MTV in the US. One of the last high points is the leotard-and-parkour fest that is Hung Up. Time, indeed, has gone by so slowly for the impeccably toned Madonna. (source: New York Post)

27 September - Celebration review: Paints Madonna as one hell of a popstar
Celebration, the album Sigmund Freud, analyse this: "Unlike the others I'll do anything / I'm not the same, I've got no shame." It's a couplet from Madonna's 1982 single Burning Up, probably the most obscure selection on her new Greatest Hits compilation. At the time La Ciccone was singing about her desperate plight to win over an impassive male, but 27 years later it sounds like a snappy summary of her entire career.
She hasn't quite been prepared to do anything - though she did kiss a black Jesus, Britney and Guy Ritchie - but Celebration portrays Madonna as anything but chicken. The music here is pop at its most varied and adventurous, cherry-picking elements of house, disco, electronica, R&B, soul and 60s psychedelia while rarely forgetting the importance of a big fat hook. She may have a fondness for rhyming "wait" with "hesitate", but Madonna also scored massive hits singing about child abuse (Live To Tell), teen pregnancy (Papa Don't Preach) and S&M (Erotica).
What isn't here, of course, could fill another disc and then some. It's easy to quibble with Celebration's tracklisting - where are Deeper And Deeper and True Blue? What happened to the ballads? How the hell did Miles Away make the grade? - but everything truly vital is included. Fans will sneer at some of the edits, and the sequencing isn't always spot on, but it's hard to feel short-changed by a 36-track compilation on which half the songs could legitimately be called iconic. How's this for an opening quintet: Hung Up, Music, Vogue, 4 Minutes, Holiday?
It almost goes without saying that most of the tunes are brilliant. Pop doesn't get more thrilling than the choir breakdown in Like A Prayer, more provocative than the moment you think she's going to drop the F-bomb in Erotica, or more moving than the first minute of Frozen. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in such exalted company the two new tracks don't exactly sparkle. The title track and single is a perfectly serviceable slab of dancefloor candy, but Revolver is undoubtedly the nadir of this entire collection. Suffices to say that it features the line "I'm a sex pistol, my love should be illegal" and sounds like Madonna channelling recent Britney. Shouldn't it be other way round?
Still, the odd slip-up aside, Celebration paints Madonna as one hell of a popstar - a singer who transcended her lack of technical ability to impose herself on virtually any song, a songwriter with a knack for an ear-snagging lyric ("Romeo and Juliet / They never felt this way I bet") and a pop brain with, until recently at least, a seemingly bottomless well of ideas. Sampling Abba, for example, may seem obvious, but who else thought to do it? As Celebration proves, Madonna has always been unlike the others - though it's much more than a lack of shame that sets her apart. (source: Digital Spy)

26 September - Madonna to hit Late Show with David Letterman
Wednesday, Sept. 30 (11:35 PM-12:37 AM, ET/PT)on the CBS Television Network.
This will mark the music icon's eighth appearance on the CBS broadcast — she was last interviewed on the show on Jan. 11, 2007, with prior sit-down interviews on Oct. 20, 2005, Nov. 11, 2003, Nov. 3, 2000 and her memorable appearance on March 31, 1994. She also made a brief cameo appearance Feb. 13, 1995, when she delivered Valentine's candy and flowers to Letterman. On Dec. 28, 1998, she appeared in a taped celebrity Top Ten List of the "Top Ten Things Beautiful Women Love About Dave." (source: CBS)

25 September - Jackson: "Madonna was in love with me"
Michael Jackson was convinced Madonna was madly in love with him - but he didn't return her feelings because she was "not sexy at all". The King of Pop befriended the singer in the early 1990s and several dates followed, but Jackson revealed he never had any romantic interest in her during a taped conversation with his close friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
Jackson told Boteach, "I think she (Madonna) likes shock value and she knows how to push buttons on people. I think she was sincerely in love with me and I was not in love with her. She did a lot of crazy things. I knew we had nothing in common. "She is not sexy at all. I think sexy comes form the heart in the way you present yourself."
The Thriller icon believed Madonna was one of several stars who envied his fame: "They admire you and know you are wonderful and great because they are jealous, because they wish they were in your shoes. Madonna is one of them. She is jealous. She is a girl, a woman and I think that's what bothers her... I get the fainting and adulation and she doesn't."
The star went on to confess he had considered dating actress Elizabeth Taylor but feared the media would mock their 27-year age gap. He said, "I know that if we ever did anything romantically the press would be so mean and nasty and call us the Odd Couple. It would turn into a circus and that's the pain of it all."
Jackson also described the late Princess Diana as his ideal woman: "I thought she was very special - very feminine and classy. She was my type for sure, and I don't like most girls. There are very few I like who fit the mould. It takes a very special mould to make me happy and she was one of them." Boteach, who is publishing the conversations, maintains Jackson wanted the footage to be released to the public so his fans could gain a better understanding of his personal life. (source: ContactMusic)

24 September - Celebration review: A back catalogue so immense and so varied
Celebration, the album Confession from my own private dance floor: I've never been a fan of The Immaculate Collection, despite the canonization accorded it in the absence of any competing career compilation up until its companion volume GHV2 in 2001. In almost every case, I found Immaculate's QSound makeovers by Shep Pettibone (at the time, Madonna's go-to guy thanks to his revelatory work on Express Yourself and Vogue) to be earsores, if not total desecrations, of the original works. The winningly tremulous qualities of her earliest hits were all but obliterated by Pettibone's glossy remixes, and don't even get me started on the deadening house beats he used to kamikaze Like A Prayer, a song which, like no other song from her first decade, did not exactly want for urgency. The upside of the album was and remains this unique feat: how its obligatory new tracks, the simmering Rescue Me and the aromatic Justify My Love, are considered by most fans to be among the singer's best work.

Unfortunately, only one of those two songs survived the transition to Celebration, the "best of" reboot I've been wanting, needing, waiting for since 1990. Representing Madonna's first post-iPod compilation, the full two-disc version of Celebration promises more bang for your buck than her previous hits collections and, in the bargain, reverts many (but not all) tracks previously assembled on Immaculate to their original mixes, essentially making Celebration her most retro retrospective to date. The backward compatibility is born out in the album's cover art by Mr. Brainwash, which features a True Blue/Vogue-eras composite shot tarted up a la Andy Warhol. As she herself sang on the soundtrack to A League of Their Own, "Don't hold on to the past/Well, that's too much to ask." (Unless the past in question is This Used to Be My Playground, which is the sole #1 not included here.)

Speaking of things that are too hard to hold on to, Celebration's other major deviation from the Immaculate template is primarily structural. Maybe the compilation represents Madonna acquiescing to the death of the album and the rise of the mp3, but the overall effect of the song sequence is that of a frenzied shopping spree, not a careful retrospective. I'm not necessarily in the camp that insists compilations follow chronological order, but segues should at least make some sense of a career path. Celebration isn't totally random—the first disc seems to focus more often than not on the dance-floor burners while the second spreads its attention across a broader definition of pop—but it seems tailor-made to purchase song-by-song to fill the gaps in your collection. Maybe Madonna is, 40 #1 dance hits into her career, making the sloppiness the point itself. Maybe she's trying to suggest that her career can no longer be summarized. But if that's the case, why bother collecting representative tracks in the first place?

I'm aware that every Madonna fan has his or her own favorite moments, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who will find the placement of Vogue sandwiched between Music and her Justin Timberlake duet 4 Minutes obfuscatory to the point of offensiveness. Vogue is the lynchpin of her greatest, gayest period, and as such has a rightful place in Madonna's narrative, one that does not nestle comfortably aside the hijinks of a toy boy. Vogue falls in line with a startling arc of growth and self-consciousness of which Express Yourself was the warning shot, an unmistakably feminist missive that explicitly excluded straight males from its directive and then commanded they respond to its demands. From telling straight women and gay men their love has every potential to be real, Madonna then submitted her persona within the gay identity with Vogue. If some found her cultural appropriation presumptuous, the reward was in the music you could let your body move to, hey, hey, hey. At least so far as pop music is concerned, Vogue was instrumental in allowing disco revivalism to emerge, allowing the denigrated gay genre to soar once again within the context of house music, the genre disco became in its second life. The queer-celebratory Vogue became, with a dash of ACT UP rage, Erotica, her darkest and most politically rewarding album and one that revealed a full understanding of the bipolarity of the gay experience circa AIDS, the self-actualizing highs and the then-tragically pervasive lows. If Silence = Death, Erotica's aggressively gay house beats intended to make a whole goddamned lot of noise.

I use Vogue as merely one example of the benefit of chronological representation. On a song-to-song basis, the inclusion of recent misfires such as Miles Away and Hollywood (the latter marking an embarrassing moment in Madonna's career no matter how you slice it, being her first single in two decades to completely miss Billboard's Hot 100) would read as forgivable tokenism if the album were merely presented in chronological order. But to have them pop up unannounced among some of the unassailable classics of pop is flatly disruptive. The arrival of the commercially successful but creatively stagnant Die Another Day, for instance, in such close proximity to her Austin Powers ditty Beautiful Stranger (stupid, cute) only calls to attention Celebration's most glaring soundtrack omission: the long-legged 1994 hit I'll Remember, which, much like Vogue, represents one of the most important gear-changes in Madonna's entire career. An underwater indigo dirge featuring a remarkable below-the-root bassline and supple, husky vocals, I'll Remember settles up the score following the widely (and wrongly) derided Sex era and finds Madonna switching Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf roles mid-performance from "hump the hostess" Martha to "I wanna have a baaay-bee" Honey. It's the key to understanding how both Lourdes and Ray Of Light came into being. And it gets the shaft in favor of "Sigmund Freud, analyze this!"

Okay, so the legitimacy of the song selection can, in this Cuisinart iteration, only be appraised on a case-by-case basis. How do the songs sound? And are the mixes definitive? Great and mostly, respectively. The oldest and newest tracks have been given the most attention. Almost everything from her first two albums shimmer with virginal moisture (especially Dress You Up and Holiday), and all of her tracks from the neo-aughts boast robust EQ credentials (though the claustrophobia of the production on Music almost seems overripe compared to the open warmth of the comp's kickoff, Hung Up). Between Like A Prayer (thankfully, the album version) and Sorry, Ray Of Light sounds strangely weak and muffled. I was hoping for a deeper bass sound on Everybody, but Lucky Star (which, best I can tell, seems to be a smartly remastered hybrid of the original track and the Pettibone remix) emerges as an absolute monster, a Larry Levan-worthy concoction of clanging rhythm guitars, synth atmospherics, and chugging bass.

The album is missing songs, doesn't always include the right ones, seems to have been sequenced by a not particularly intuitive Genius playlist, and the two new tracks aren't fit to kiss the feet of Justify My Love: The title track is a zero-traction dance track that's as shallow lyrically ("If it makes you feel good then I say do it, I don't know what you're waiting for") as it is musically, and the less said about her clumsy collaboration with Lil Wayne, Revolver, the better. But functionally, what Madonna and fans are really celebrating with the release of Celebration is the hard proof that Madonna's back catalogue is now so immense and so varied that she can release a behemoth, two-disc greatest hits package that shoehorns in 36 songs and still manages to significantly short-change the singer's legacy. [Eric Henderson; 4 out of 5 stars] (source: Slant Magazine)

22 September - Madonna talks about current and upcoming projects with Larry Flick
Last week Sirius FM aired an interview with Madonna, who talked to Larry Flick right after the Budapest show just a month ago. In the interview, she mentioned how exciting and fun the 2009 tour was, with visiting brand new places in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, also hinting at always being nervous just before hitting the stage.

About the greatest hits album Celebration, she talked about not being a lookback girl, but appreciating that people want to hear her old songs, because she wrote "some good songs". She tries not to listen to them that much and on tour she gets sick of the stuff she sings every night, but likes to revisit some older songs. When asked about feeling an old song currently, she named Beautiful Stranger and pointed out the compilation would have everything that's not on the tour (possibly explains the omission of Human Nature, You Must Love Me & Give It 2 Me? ;-)...

When asked about songs that should not be celebrated, she answered that each of them is important to her career and all of them describe the part of her life she was at when writing them. She named Don't Tell Me, Like It Or Not and Live To Tell as songs that resonate with her more, or are truthfully more about her than others.

She said the people want to be inspired and expect political songs like American Life from her, while others want her "let's have fun" kinda music, and people are in different moods in different moods, just like herself.

She listens to a lot of electronic music these days but could not club that much during tour. Also talked about putting a show together and getting prepared for a tour for months, calling it an endurance test. She absolutely cannot relate to the idea of touring with the same show for 18 months.

About working with Paul Oakenfold, she liked his production for other artists and that he gets people moving and is a positive person. Also mentioned her daughter Lourdes being in the Celebration video, since she hangs out with the dancers a lot and is a dancer herself. Madonna was comfortable with Lourdes being in the video and thinks she wants to be an actress, not following her mother's footsteps as a singer. She also calls her the "super sister" in the family. About getting another child, she said her hands are full right now but "never say never".

When asked about the sound of her next record, she said she did not have the chance to think about that, but always loves electronic music and is sure she'd keep going that direction, but does not know with who she'd collaborate.

She currently has a directing project and several projects in Africa going on with two new documentaries and building a girls school.

She called herself extremely lucky and blessed for having such a life.

You can download the interview at AbsolumentMadonna.

22 September - Michael Jackson rejected provocative Madonna song
Michael Jackson approached good friend Madonna to write a song for him - but rejected a track the Material Girl penned because it was too "provocative". The King Of Pop became friends with the singer in the early 1990s, and the pair often accompanied each other to events. Jackson was keen to work professionally with his pal, but turned down a track she offered him because of its raunchy lyrics. Madonna admits she was shocked by the rejection - because the Thriller hitmaker knew provocative songs were her signature sound. She says, "We spent time together and became friends. It just never happened. I wrote words and presented them to him, but he didn't want to go there. "He didn't want to be provocative. I said, 'Well, why come to me?' It's like asking Quentin Tarantino to not put any violence in his films. I felt he was too shy." (source: PR Inside)

21 September - Sunday Times' Dan Cairns interviews Madonna
A rare and candid interview with the Queen of Pop.
Madonna shows Dan Cairns all too clearly who is in control - of her life, her astonishing 27-year career, and their meeting

The British nerve centre for Madonna Inc is to be found in two adjoining townhouses in central London. The buildings are a home for the singer and her four children when they are in this country, plus offices and a personal gym. From the outside, the six-storey edifices are standard-issue London mansions - that is, way beyond the standards most of us are accustomed to. There is something impregnable about such streets: an air of discreet luxury pervades them. Litter seems not to blow or rattle down their immaculate expanses; no chewing gum or urgently expelled kebab encrusts their gleaming paving stones. You might glance up at Madonna's perfect residential pair and admire their symmetry, the cleanness of their architectural lines. But you would be more likely, unless you were a lurking paparazzo, not even to notice them; they are merely two houses in a long, wide street of the things. Anonymous, ordered, well maintained and with a touch of class. Madonna wouldn't have it any other way. "Where do you live?" she asks when we meet later. Dalston, I say. The name doesn't register. Stoke Newington, I add as a pointer. "That's not even in London," she scoffs. And it isn't, to be fair. Or not in this London, at any rate.
The evening before I walk down her street and ring the doorbell, I visit another imposing building near the singer's home. A few days earlier, a leaflet had been thrust into my hand. "It's a Sign," it read, and considering that it went on to invite the bearer to an introductory talk on kabbalah at the centre Madonna bought for the organisation six years ago, it seemed just that. The lecture offered an hour-long precis of what cynics would dismiss as woolly mumbo jumbo. One per cent of each of us is concerned with our corporal beings; concentrate on the remaining 99%, the speaker suggests, and we locate the key to a spiritually nourishing life. There is, however, an impression of calm, wellbeing, even complacency. And Madonna, as even a cursory knowledge of her questing, controversy-courting 27-year career will attest, needs calm. Because the opposite of calm, of control, is? "Chaos," she says later. "Pain, suffering."
We are meeting to discuss Celebration, the two-disc, 36-track greatest-hits collection that marks Madonna's final contractual obligation to her record label before she skips off into the $120m embrace of Live Nation, the American concert promoters. Conditions have been imposed: no questions about adoption, about her divorce, about her love life, her faith; discussion is to be confined to her music. Refereeing the joust is the singer's longtime American publicist, a formidable, don't-mess-with-me powerhouse named Liz Rosenberg, whose manner, if not appearance, puts one instantly and inescapably in mind of the character of Roz, the giant snail in the film Monsters Inc, with her catch phrase: "I'm watching you, Wazowski. Always watching." She has worked for the singer pretty much from the moment, in 1982, when Madonna was first handed the keys to the candy store of stardom. "By the way," Madonna says at one point, "my dream was always to work in a candy store. It was because of my obsession with candy; I don't have it any more, now that my teeth are all rotten. I did go to a university for a year, as shocking as that might sound to people, and there was a candy shop that I used to go to all the time, an old-fashioned one where all the candy was in these big glass jars. I used to go in there and look at all the candy and think, 'God, it would be really cool to work in here; I could have candy whenever I wanted.' So I did want the keys to the candy store, but I had different keys." Confectionery's loss, pop's gain.
Continue article at Times Online.

20 September - Madonna scores 62nd UK Top 10 hit
The single Celebration finally makes its debut in the UK singles chart, entering at #3, on the back of a long repressed physical & digital release with 41,727 copies sold. By debuting inside the Top 10, it becomes Madonna's 62nd Top 10 hit in the UK chart out of her 68 singles. Even though airplay reached a new peak this week (#2), Celebration is expected to fall next week as it has not been a steady iTunes seller. The new compilation is out tomorrow in the UK and on next week's chart Madonna is also expected to add another Top 3 album in her catalog. Till then, browse Madonna's chart history here.

18 September - Celebration greatest hits album released in selected territories
Back cover of the Belgian edition of Celebration Today, the long awaited Celebration album hit the shelves in a couple of European countries, including Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy and Hungary. While the latter 3 received the different formats (1CD version, 2CD version & iTunes with bonus track), Belgium only received their edited version of the 2CD version. As you can see on the Belgian back cover, that version only has 33 hits and the 2 new tracks. The forbidden song Frozen is taken off, and nowhere mentioned in the art work. Next Monday, the album will be released in the UK. That territory will be the first to lay their hands on the Celebration Video Collection DVD.
Check our Celebration album page for the front and back covers of the 1CD and 2CD versions.

17 September - Final Sticky & Sweet Billboard Boxscores
Billboard has posted the final boxscores numbers of the Sticky & Sweet Tour, including Sofia and Tel Aviv.

Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria
Aug. 29, 2009
53,660 / 53,660

Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv, Israel
Sept. 1-2, 2009
99,674 / 99,674
2 / 2

That means we now have the total number for attendance and grossing for the 2008-2009 tour: the show that was brought to 3 continents during 85 shows was attended by a staggering 3,5 million people and grossed more than $407 million.

Sticky & Sweet Tour 2008
Number of shows: 58
Gross sales: $270,454,518
Attendance: 2,337,308

Sticky & Sweet Tour 2009
Number of shows: 27
Gross sales: $137,258,748
Attendance: 1,208,591

Sticky & Sweet Tour 2008-2009 total
Number of shows: 85
Gross sales: $407,713,266
Attendance: 3,545,899

17 September - Second Celebration video premieres on Madonna's MySpace
Lola in the Celebration video Check out the second music video for Celebration at Madonna's MySpace. It features the footage of dancing fans, filmed during the Sticky & Sweet shows in Milan and Barcelona. Though many thought the video would consist of fans only, it does feature Madonna and several tour dancers as well. Most of the fans and dancers are dressed in one of Madonna's iconic images from the past 26 years. Among the Madonna lookalikes you'll also recognize daughter Lola in the Like A Virgin wedding dress, with a striking resemblance to her mother in the 80s. Like the first video, it's set to the Benassi remix, not the original version.

16 September - Celebration newsbits announces: "A second version of the Celebration video has been created and features footage of fans filmed during the Barcelona and Milan stops of Madonna's 2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour! Make sure to check Madonna's official Myspace page by 8:00am GMT tomorrow for the video premiere as well as a related Myspace based game!"
Meanwhile, the other new track Revolver has leaked online. Check our Revolver song page for the full lyrics.
Only two more days and Celebration hits the shelves in selected regions!

16 September - Celebration review: She consistently delivers the goods
Celebration, the albumAs Madonna delivered her tribute speech about Michael Jackson at the MTV Video Music Awards this week, she assumed the role of ambassador for her generation, reminding us that she was born in the same year as Jackson, 1958. Yet she is still here, still touring, still making music, keeping up with the latest trends rather than trading on nostalgia.
As her extensive new greatest hits collection reminds us, there is talent there, too. There are 36 tracks on this double CD, only a couple of which feel dispensable. Both are among the newest - the current single Celebration is infinitely forgettable and Revolver, featuring New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne, shows off his skills better than hers. On the other hand, 4 Minutes, a duet with Justin Timberlake from last year's album Hard Candy, stands up surprisingly well. It may be lyrically silly, but it's eminently catchy and that has always been Madonna's strength. I could live without Take A Bow, but since it was her longest-running US number one, I suppose it deserves inclusion.
This compilation is heavily weighted to her glory days - everything on The Immaculate Collection of 1990 is also here except, weirdly, Rescue Me. But the selection from the rest of her career reveals just how consistently she has delivered the goods, with tracks such as Music, Ray Of Light, Frozen and Don't Tell Me.
The CD sleeve shows Madonna as a latter-day Marilyn Monroe. She hasn't yet attained such legendary status, but as the collection's title suggests, she deserves her moment of celebration. [4 stars] (source:

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