Madonna news - Sep. 2009

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Come join the party, Mad-Eyes reviews Celebration

29 September 2009

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.

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!

Madonna returns to YouTube

Source: Bloomberg - 29 September 2009

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.

Celebration review: Rolling Stone gives 4 stars

Source: Rolling Stone - 28 September 2009

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)

Celebration is Madonna's 11th UK #1 album!

27 September 2009

he 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.

Celebration review: Prime Madonna

Source: New York Post - 27 September 2009

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.

Celebration review: Paints Madonna as one hell of a popstar

Source: Digital Spy - 27 September 2009

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).

Celebration, the album

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.

Madonna to hit Late Show with David Letterman

Source: CBS - 26 September 2009

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."

Jackson: "Madonna was in love with me"

Source: ContactMusic - 25 September 2009

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.

Celebration review: A back catalogue so immense and so varied

Source: Slant Magazine - 24 September 2009

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]

Madonna talks about current and upcoming projects with Larry Flick

22 September 2009

Last week Sirius FM aired an interview with Madonna, who talked to Larry Flick rightafter 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.

Michael Jackson rejected provocative Madonna song

22 September 2009

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."

Sunday Times' Dan Cairns interviews Madonna

21 September 2009

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.

Madonna scores 62nd UK Top 10 hit

20 September 2009

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.

Celebration greatest hits album released in selected territories

18 September 2009

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.

Back cover of the Belgian edition of Celebration 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.

Final Sticky & Sweet Billboard Boxscores

17 September 2009

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

Second Celebration video premieres on Madonna's MySpace

17 September 2009

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.

Lola in the Celebration video

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.

Celebration newsbits

16 September 2009 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!

Celebration review: She consistently delivers the goods

Source: - 16 September 2009

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]

Which song is missed the most from Celebration?

15 September 2009

We're so close to the release of Madonna's brand new greatest hits album Celebration! While it nicely captures the best of Madonna's career, unfortunately because of the limitations of the Compact Disc format, not every single can be included and every fan has their own favourite that did not make the cut. In our current poll, we listed Madonna's 24 major singles that are not on this collection. Vote for the one you miss the most here!

Madonna says MJ speech came from heart, is flattered by Gaga comparisons

Source: - 14 September 2009

After the show, with a somber face, Madonna explained just how much the dedication to Jackson meant to her.

"[It was] extremely important because I didn't really have my chance to pay my last respects to him or speak of him in the way that I wanted to," the Material Girl said. "It was a privilege and an honor for me to say what I had to say.

"[It] took me all week to write [the speech], and I just wrote it from my heart," she added. "And I kept slashing and burning and editing."

While she did admit that she left out some choice MJ anecdotes, it was purely in the interest of time.

"I really cut it down. It was painful," she said. "I said what I had to say at the end of the day."

After talking with MTV News' Jim Cantiello about her heartfelt tribute to the late Michael Jackson at the VMAs on Sunday night, Madonna also answered questions about Lady Gaga and her daughter, Lourdes.

Gaga, of course, has been frequently compared to Madonna — both musically and as an icon — and her performance at the VMAs on Sunday has been compared with Madonna's famous VMA performances.

While she didn't see Gaga's avant-garde red-carpet getup in person, Madonna did catch it on a television screen backstage.

"I just saw Lady Gaga," Madonna said with a smile. "She looks like she's going to carnival in Venice, very beautiful."

When asked if she feels at all threatened by the comparisons, Madonna said, "No, I'm very flattered."

What about Lady Gaga's escort, Kermit the Frog?

"I missed that," Madonna said. Asked if she'd ever been escorted by Kermit, she joked, "No, but I've dated some frogs."

When asked if her daughter Lourdes — who is such a big Gaga fan that she danced on a table during a Gaga concert that Madonna took her to earlier this year — is interested in show business, Madonna turned serious.

"She's got school tomorrow, so she's in the bed sleeping," she said. "I think she has an interest, but she has time — she's not even 13 yet, so give her a few more years."

Madonna dedicates VMA speech to Michael Jackson

Source: Rolling Stone - 14 September 2009

Madonna surprised MTV's VMAs last night by opening the show with a long speech about Michael Jackson that was followed by a performance by Janet Jackson. The show closed with a spectacular look at This Is It, the film assembled from Jackson's concert rehearsals. Read Madonna's entire tribute here:

"Michael Jackson. [Cheers] I have a little bit more to say than that. OK, here we go again. Michael Jackson was born in August 1958. So was I. Michael Jackson grew up in the suburbs of the Midwest. So did I. Michael Jackson had eight brothers and sisters. So do I. When Michael Jackson was six, he became a superstar, and was perhaps the world's most beloved child. When I was six, my mother died. I think he got the shorter end of the stick. I never had a mother, but he never had a childhood. And when you never get to have something, you become obsessed by it.

Madonna at the MTV VMA 2009

I spent my childhood searching for my mother figures. Sometimes I was successful, but how do you recreate your childhood when you are under the magnifying glass of the world?

Madonna at the MTV VMA 2009

There is no question that Michael Jackson is one of the greatest talents the world has ever known. That when he sang a song at the ripe old age of eight he could make you feel like an experienced adult was squeezing your heart with his words. That when he moved he had the elegance of Fred Astaire and packed the punch of Muhammad Ali. That his music had an extra layer of inexplicable magic that didn't just make you want to dance but actually made you believe you could fly, dare to dream, be anything that you wanted to be. Because that is what heroes do and Michael Jackson was a hero.

He performed in soccer stadiums around the world, and sold hundreds of millions of records and dined with prime ministers and presidents. Girls fell in love with him, boys fell in love with him, everyone wanted to dance like him. He seemed otherworldly - but he was a human being.

Like most performers he was shy and plagued with insecurities. I can't say we were great friends, but in 1991 I decided I wanted to try to get to know him better. I asked him out to dinner, I said "My treat, I'll drive - just you and me."

Madonna at the MTV VMA 2009

He agreed and showed up to my house without any bodyguards. We drove to the restaurant in my car. It was dark out, but he was still wearing sunglasses.

I said, "Michael, I feel like I'm talking to a limousine. Do you think you can take off your glasses so I can see your eyes?"

Then he tossed the glasses out the window, looked at me with a wink and a smile and said, "Can you see me now? Is that better?"

In that moment, I could see both his vulnerability and his charm. The rest of the dinner, I was hellbent on getting him to eat French fries, drink wine, have dessert and say bad words. Things he never seemed to allow himself to do. Later we went back to my house to watch a movie and sat on the couch like two kids, and somewhere in the middle of the movie, his hand snuck over and held mine.

Madonna at the MTV VMA 2009

It felt like he was looking for more of a friend than a romance, and I was happy to oblige. In that moment, he didn't feel like a superstar. He felt like a human being.

We went out a few more times together, and then for one reason or another we fell out of touch. Then the witch hunt began, and it seemed like one negative story after another was coming out about Michael. I felt his pain, I know what it's like to walk down the street and feel like the whole world is turned against you. I know what it's like to feel helpless and unable to defend yourself because the roar of the lynch mob is so loud you feel like your voice can never be heard.

But I had a childhood, and I was allowed to make mistakes and find my own way in the world without the glare of the spotlight.

Madonna at the MTV VMA 2009

When I first heard that Michael had died, I was in London, days away from the start of my tour. Michael was going to perform in the same venue as me a week later. All I could think about in this moment was, "I had abandoned him." That we had abandoned him. That we had allowed this magnificent creature who had once set the world on fire to somehow slip through the cracks. While he was trying to build a family and rebuild his career, we were all passing judgement. Most of us had turned our backs on him. In a desperate attempt to hold onto his memory, I went on the internet to watch old clips of him dancing and singing on TV and on stage and I thought, "my God, he was so unique, so original, so rare, and there will never be anyone like him again. He was a king."

But he was also a human being, and alas we are all human beings and sometimes we have to lose things before we can appreciate them. I want to end this on a positive note and say that my sons, age nine and four, are obsessed with Michael Jackson. There's a whole lot of crotch grabbing and moon walking going on in my house. And, it seems like a whole new generation of kids have discovered his genius and are bringing him to life again. I hope that wherever Michael is right now he is smiling about this.

Madonna at the MTV VMA 2009

Yes, Michael Jackson was a human being but he was a king. Long live the king."

Let's celebrate Madonna's 40th number one dance hit!

11 September 2009
In Billboard's September 26th issue (out next week) Our Lady of The Dancefloor Madonna will have her 40th!!! - that's right, her 40TH NUMBER ONE SINGLE on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Chart - more than any artist in the history of that chart. A list of all her preceeding Number One's follow (feel free to sing along):

Material Girl 1. Holiday / Lucky Star (1983)
2. Like A Virgin (1984)
3. Material Girl (1985)
4. Angel / Into The Groove (1985)
5. Open Your Heart (1987)
6. Causing A Commotion (1987)
7. You Can Dance (LP Cuts) (1988)
8. Like A Prayer (1989)
9. Express Yourself (1989)
10. Keep It Together (1990)
11. Vogue (1990)
Deeper And Deeper 12. Justify My Love (1991)
13. Erotica (1992)
14. Deeper And Deeper (1993)
15. Fever (1993)
16. Secret (1994)
17. Bedtime Story (1995)
18. Don't Cry For Me Argentina (1997)
19. Frozen (1998)
20. Ray Of Light (1998)
21. Nothing Really Matters (1999)
Beautiful Stranger 22. Beautiful Stranger (1999)
23. American Pie (2000)
24. Music (2000)
25. Don't Tell Me (2001)
26. What It Feels Like For A Girl (2001)
27. Impressive Instant (2001)
28. Die Another Day (2002)
29. American Life (2003)
30. Hollywood (2003)
31. Me Against The Music [Britney Spears featuring Madonna] (2003)
Sorry 32. Nothing Fails (2004)
33. Love Profusion (2004)
34. Hung Up (2005)
35. Sorry (2006)
36. Get Together (2006)
37. Jump (2006)
38. 4 Minutes [featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland] (2008)
39. Give It 2 Me (2008)
40. Celebration (2009)

Preview new song Revolver

11 September 2009

Online retailer put up 30 second long teasers of the upcoming greatest hits album, which includes the new song Revolver. This is the first time we get to hear Madonna's rendition of the song, that stays true to the demo version we've been exposed to months ago.

Additionally, by the clips and track times, we get an overview of the versions of the hits they used on Celebration, mainly album versions, radio edits and the special mixes done for The Immaculate Collection, reportedly all remastered.

UPDATE: Unfortunately all the clips are taken down for an unknown reason. We cannot post a YouTube link for the new track since those are short lived, thanks to Warner.

Update on Belgian Celebration release

10 September 2009

As reported last Monday, Belgium will receive a separate version of the Celebration double disc, which doesn't include the song Frozen. The song will not be replaced. It now seems that the single disc and the DVD collection will not be available in Belgian stores.

Warner Netherlands also informs that due to delay in the production process, the September 18th DVD release is postponed to September 25th.

Digital Spy reviews Celebration

Source: Digital Spy - 9 September 2009

By subtitling her Greatest Hits set "34 Songs That Changed The World, Plus Two New Tracks", is she trying to tell us something about those fan-baiters? Either way, this relatively unadventurous single is never going to have the impact of a Like A Prayer, a Vogue or even a Music. What it does offer, however, is a welcome reminder that Madonna's career has been built as much on decent tunes and danceable beats as it has on grand gestures.

Celebration, the single

Written and produced with Paul Oakenfold, it's an unashamed party anthem with a 90s dance influence and a slight resemblance to Calvin Harris's 'I'm Not Alone' - call it a kissing cousin.

The lyrics are as deep and meaningful as Madonna's yoga mat, but the old girl can't resist slipping in the merest soupcon of naughtiness. "I just don't recognise you with your clothes on," she purrs during the spoken word middle 8. You'd swear she was trying to wind up the Daily Mail brigade - if only she cared what they thought.

Belgian edition of Celebration does not include Frozen

Source: De Standaard; translation by Mad-Eyes - 7 September 2009

Frozen, forbidden in BelgiumThere will be a Belgian edition of Madonna compilation album Celebration, without the song Frozen.

On July 11th, Madonna sang Frozen live on the festival ground of Werchter, but of her new Celebration album – 34 hits and 2 new songs – a Belgian edition will be produced, which excludes the forbidden song.

In 2005, a judge in Bergen ruled that part of Frozen (1998) was plagiarism from Salvatore Acquaviva's 'Ma vie fout le camp', which was composed in the late 70s. The composer from Moeskroen claimed that Madonna could have heard his song when she was a backup dancer for Patrick 'Born to be alive' Hernandez.

On the Celebration tracklist, Frozen was one of the songs selected by Madonna herself. "If we are not allowed to release this Best Of in Belgium, we face a huge budget problem", explains [Warner] marketing manager Bert Bieseman. "Still, we can't risk to release the CD with the song to music stores, because the fine we'd have to pay is huge."

After discussion with Madonna's management, it was decided to produce an exclusive Belgian edition of the double disc, without Frozen. Also on the Belgian iTunes and on the DVD, the song will not be found. Belgian fans wanting the complete version will have to order the album online or across the border. Celebration is released on September 18th

Lourdes recreates her mother's famous Like A Virgin pose

Source: Daily Mail - 7 September 2009

Trussed up in white wedding dress and veil, Madonna's daughter Lourdes recreates her mother's famous wedding dress pose in the Eighties hit song Like A Virgin. The 12-year-old wears lashings of red lipstick and has the iconic beauty spot painted above her lip. It is taken from what is believed to be a second version of Madge's Celebration video, which will include fans dancing to the song, to be released next week.

Madonna in her famous Like A Virgin wedding dress

Lourdes's pose channels Madonna's famous performance at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), where she sang the song while sat on top of a giant wedding cake in full marital regalia. It's not the first time Lourdes taken part in a rendition of Like A Virgin. In 2003, aged just six, she played a flower girl in the raunchy performance which saw Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera join Madonna on stage for the song at the MTV VMAs.

Lourdes in the new Celebration video

Last week the pre-teen joined her mother on stage, on the penultimate night of her Sticky & Sweet world tour in Israel. Lourdes came on stage as Madonna sang Give It 2 Me, and is likely to appear again tonight on the final night of the tour.

Madonna lights Sabbath candles with Israel PM

Source: AP - 6 September 2009

Madonna joined the Israeli prime minister and his family Friday in the traditional ritual welcoming the Jewish Sabbath A statement from from the prime minister's office says the singer spent two hours with Bejamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at their home lighting candles and reciting a blessing together.

Madonna and Guy Oseary meeting Israel's PM Netanyahu and his wife Sara

Although not Jewish, the 51-year-old pop star claims a special bond with Israel and Jewish tradition. She's been exploring Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, for more than a decade and has taken the Hebrew name, Esther. She arrived in Israel on Sunday and performed in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and Wednesday. She was wearing a short-sleeved black dress as she left the heavily guarded Netanyahu home Friday.

Madonna 'reconciles' with brother Christopher

Source: ContactMusic - 6 September 2009

Madonna has reportedly reconciled with her estranged brother Christopher Ciccone - a year after he published an expose of their life together.

The Holiday hitmaker was allegedly furious over Ciccone's tell-all book, Life With My Sister Madonna, last year (08), which lifted the lid on the star's private affairs.

Ciccone also incurred the wrath of his famous sibling when he spoke to the media following her split from Guy Ritchie in late 2008.

The pop superstar has now taken the first step towards a reconciliation, according to British tabloid the Sunday Mirror, writing her brother an email in a bid to repair their broken relationship.

A source tells the publication, "Madonna did it more for her family than for herself. Her feud with Chris was creating huge tension within the family so she decided to be the bigger person. It's been a nightmare. She's calmed down since the book and had time to think. She realises blood is thicker than water and she will meet with him this year in L.A."

Madonna to addend VMA, no performance

4 September 2009

Anna_henstridge of MadonnaFanzine and fansite MadonnaTribe confirm that Madonna is going to addend the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, September 13th, but she will not perform.

Since she's not nominated for anything and it's rumoured that the 26th VMA will be dedicated to the late Michael Jackson, in our opinion the most possible scenario is Madonna holding a MJ tribute speech. The show from NYC's Radio city Music Hall is broadcast on MTV at 8 pm ET (2 am CET).

Additionally, MadonnaTribe reveals the other edit of Celebration video will also be set to the Benny Benassi remix. This version will feature Lourdes in the Boy Toy wedding dress and fans dressed up in various Madonna personas.

With the album version not being used, Celebration joins Fever, Love Don't Live Here Anymore & What It Feels Like For A Girl as the only Madonna videos that do not have their videos set to a soundtrack based on their original versions.

Sticky & Sweet is the 2nd highest grossing tour of all time

Source: - 2 September 2009

Madonna's Sticky & Sweet tour wraps today with the second of two shows in Tel Aviv, Israel (Sept. 1-2), putting the lid on what looks to be the second-highest grossing tour of all time.

With a gross of $408 million, Sticky & Sweet is the top-grossing tour by a solo artist of all time, and second only to the Rolling Stones' $558 million Bigger Bang tour of 2005-2007. "She is absolutely one of the great performers of all time," says Arthur Fogel, Chairman of Global Music and CEO of Global Touring for Live Nation, producer of Madona's tours. "That this tour will take its place as the second highest grossing tour in the history of our business says it all."

Performing Beat Goes on

Since its launch in August 2008, Sticky & Sweet has moved more than 3.5 million fans to 85 shows in 32 countries, according to Live Nation. Madonna set an attendance record for the biggest crowds in history in Zurich, Switzerland, where she drew the largest audience ever for a concert in that country (72,000). According to Live Nation stats, her Gothenburg, Sweden show, seen by 119,000 fans, broke the record for highest grossing multiple shows in the country's history.

In Helsinki, Finland, Sticky & Sweet sold more than 85,000 tickets, making it the biggest single show by an artist in history for all of Scandinavia. Other highlights on the tour included stops in Buenos Aires, Argentina (256,000), Santiago, Chile (146,000), Sao Paolo, Brazil (203,000), Tallinn, Estonia (72,000), Warsaw, Poland (79,000), Bucharest, Romania (69,000), and Sofia, Bulgaria (54,000).

Sticky & Sweet broke Madonna's previous record for top solo tour ever with her Confessions tour, which grossed $194 million in 2006, according to Billboard Boxscore. The 2008-2009 tour was the first under Madonna's $120 million, 10-year multi-rights deal with Live Nation.

Latest Billboard Boxscores

2 September 2009

After a break last week, we're now treated to the latest Boxscore numbers of the Sticky & Sweet Tour, including Munich, Budapest, Belgrade and Bucharest. The numbers of Sofia & Tel-Aviv are expected for next week, so then we'll have the complete attendance and gross of the 2008-2009 tour.

Olympiastadion, Munich, Germany
Aug. 18, 2009
35,127 / 35,127

Kincsem Park, Budapest, Hungary
Aug. 22, 2009
41,045 / 41,045

Usce Park, Belgrade, Serbia
Aug. 24, 2009
39,713 / 39,713

Parc Izvor, Bucharest, Romania
Aug. 26, 2009
69,088 / 69,088

Madonna returns to her dark era with Celebration video

Source: - 1 September 2009

What's your favorite era of Madonna? This is a fairly open-ended question, one certain to get about a million different responses. For every fan of the Material Girl Maddy, there are just as many who swear by her Vogue version, or her spiritual, Ray Of Light relaunch, or even her recent turns as a political activist, a disco diva or a candy aficionado. Really, there are no wrong answers here.

But, if you really want to raise eyebrows, try telling a Madonna fanatic that you're a huge fan of her Dark Era, a period that runs roughly from the release of The Immaculate Collection in 1990 to her disastrous appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman" in 1994. This was when she tackled the politics of sexuality head-on - whether it be with the Justify My Love video, or the "Sex" book, or the Erotica album - and got down and dirty (the Deeper And Deeper video, the Body of Evidence movie) and basically wasn't afraid of offending anyone ever.

Needless to say, this was a period when most didn't get what Madonna was going for because, well, it usually wasn't all that clear.

Still, looking back on that Dark Era now, it's pretty fascinating. Madonna went farther than any pop icon before her (or, somewhat understandably, after) - she pushed the envelope with glee and never looked back for a second. In retrospect, it's clear she wasn't being desperate; she was being brilliant.

Anyway, I mention all of that because on Tuesday (September 1), Madonna's Celebration video premiered on the iTunes music store. It is directed by Jonas Åkerlund, who helped shepherd her back to respectability with his hyperkinetic 1998 video for Ray Of Light, and features cameos by Madge's boyfriend (model/DJ Jesus Luz) and daughter (Lourdes, who makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance toward the end). It is pretty great, particularly because it is a direct throwback to Madonna's Dark Era.

We have Madonna popping and locking and pawing at herself, striking a series of provocative (and sometimes even submissive) poses, groping and grinding guiltlessly on her chiseled boytoy ... and doing it all in a gynecologically cut dress and knee-high boots. She is 51, twice divorced, a mother of four and she is (quite rightfully) unashamed by any of this. Sexual politics, anyone?

As for the song itself, well, it's a straightforward lunge for the dark and dirty clubs - the kind she hasn't really made since Deeper And Deeper (and probably hasn't visited since then, either). Produced by DJ Paul Oakenfold, it's all pulsing sirens, wobbly bass and four-on-the-floor beat, with an expansive electro chorus that sounds like a truckload of Nintendo Entertainment Systems exploding in unison (only sexier).

I'm not sure if Celebration - which is meant to promote her career-spanning greatest-hits package of the same name (due September 29) - signifies Madonna's return to her Dark Era (the other new song on the album, a collaboration with Lil Wayne called Revolver, might hint at other things), but it would be pretty amazing if it did. I'm not certain even Madge has got the stones to try it again, but there's definitely a void to fill these days if she did. The world could use a good spanking, and we already know Madonna's got the dominatrix getup.

Madonna wraps up world tour in Israel this week

Source: AP via Yahoo - 1 September 2009

Madonna was bringing her mix of provocative music and spirituality to the Holy Land with a concert Tuesday in front of 50,000 fans who have endured a 16-year wait since the pop icon's last gig in Israel.

Madonna wraps up her worldwide Sticky & Sweet tour with two concerts this week in a country whose place at the heart of the Mideast conflict has made it more of a magnet for diplomats than big-name performers.

The 51-year-old entertainer claims a special bond with the Jewish state.

Madonna meeting Tzipi Livni in Israel

She's been dabbling in Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, for more than a decade and has taken on a Hebrew name, Esther. She's come on private pilgrimages in the past, and has visited the Jewish holy site at the Western Wall in Jerusalem since arriving in Israel on Sunday.
Madonna will perform later Tuesday and again on Wednesday at Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park, an outdoor site that holds about 50,000 people.

Israeli radio stations played Madonna songs through the day Tuesday. On Israel's Army Radio, a DJ interrupted a song briefly to quip that "tonight, Aunt Esther is playing at Hayarkon Park."

Late Monday, the pop diva dined with Israel's parliamentary opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, at Madonna's request, Livni spokesman Gil Messing said.

Livni "was very impressed with Madonna and found her to be a very interesting person," said Messing, adding that the two decided to keep the content of their conversation private. Livni plans to attend one of Madonna's concerts, he said.

Livni, who lost a bid for Israel's premiership in February, is a former peace negotiator and leading moderate. Her main political rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will receive Madonna at his Jerusalem residence on Friday.

Madonna last performed in Israel in 1993 but came on private pilgrimages in 2004 and 2007 along with other Kabbalah devotees.

Her previous two stops on the current tour, in Romania and Bulgaria, were marred by controversy.

Madonna meeting Tzipi Livni in Israel

In Bulgaria, Orthodox Church officials accused the singer of showing disrespect for Christianity. In Romania, she was booed during her concert for criticizing widespread discrimination against eastern Europe's Gypsies, also known as Roma.

In Israel, some rabbis have criticized her involvement in Kabbalah. Madonna was raised a Roman Catholic. She wrote in an article for an Israeli newspaper last month that the study of Kabbalah helped her understand life better.

Jewish tradition holds that Kabbalah is so complicated and so easily misunderstood that students may only begin to approach it with a strong background in Jewish law and only after age 40.

Still, Madonna's fans are happy she's in Israel. Her first show sold out quickly, and a second was added.

After years of concerns over political tensions and violence, more world artists are performing to Israel.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney performed a year ago, but he drew criticism from Palestinians who said his concert amounted to support for Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

David Brinn, a music critic for The Jerusalem Post, said Madonna's performances are a sign that Israel is becoming more attractive as a concert venue. The Pet Shop Boys played Israel in July, pop sensation Lady Gaga was here last month, the rock band Faith No More is playing Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, and the iconic songwriter Leonard Cohen is to perform later this month.

"For a long time, it was security-related, and artists and managers didn't want to take a chance," he said of the dry spell in concerts. "They realized it is safe in comparison to other countries, and it is viable for artists to come here."

Celebration video premiere & download

1 September 2009

Madonna's brand new video Celebration has premiered this morning! The video, set to the Benny Benassi remix, features Madonna and her tour dancers getting into the groove to the new dance tune. Lola makes her debut as one of the break dancers. Jesus is the DJ, who gets seduced by Madonna, who undresses him and kisses him passionately. In two weeks, a second video will be released, set to the album version and featuring dancing fans.

Celebration on iTunes

For the next 48 hours, the video will be available as a free download on iTunes (US-only!). The online store now also accepts pre-orders of the Celebration compilation. When you pre-order the Premium Version of the album on iTunes, you receive the bonus track It's So Cool. Celebration is available in 3 formats:

- The single disc album
- The double disc album and one exclusive unreleased bonus track
- The double disc album with selected videos and two exclusive unreleased bonus tracks

Most countries receive the single and double disc versions (with both bonus tracks included in the latter), while the Premium Version with the videos might remain US/Canada exclusive. But it seems permanent that Belgium has a version of the double disc that doesn't include Frozen. Instead there's the Benassi video remix and the bonus track to compensate. This probably means that Belgian fans won't find the Celebration CD in music stores...

The release date for the greatest hits album is September 18th/21st everywhere, except Japan (September 23rd) and US/Canada (September 29th).

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