On her 53rd birthday, we celebrate with songs from Madonna's remarkably successful career. This feature originally ran Sept. 22, 2009.
Behind even the most jaded facade beats the heart of someone with powerful memories of Madonna. A pop icon with an undeniable gift for provocation and reinvention, the singer-writer-producer-actor has entered her 50s as a regal sort of musical stateswoman. But in the past 30 years, she's been virtually everything else: a superstar, a lightweight, an unapologetic sex object, a godzillionaire businesswoman, a movie star, an author (of sorts) and a dance-floor-filler of the highest order.
On Sept. 29, she looks back in a collection called Celebration, which attempts to sum up Madonna's remarkably successful career — spanning seven No. 1 albums and more than three dozen Top 10 singles — with 34 remastered hits and two new collaborations, one with DJ Paul Oakenfold and one with rapper Lil' Wayne. Celebration will be available in numerous forms (including a double-disc set, a single-disc distillation and a DVD of videos), but NPR Music has assembled some of its highlights here for the week leading up to its release.
Most of these songs will be instantly familiar to virtually anyone, so NPR Music has assembled a blue-ribbon panel of Madonna fans — culled from NPR's stable of music producers, pop-culture bloggers, arts reporters, newsmagazine hosts and justice correspondents — to offer memories, commentary and analysis of the compilation's highlights. Please feel free to join the discussion in the comments section below.