As 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.