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It’s been 40 years since Madonna — a technicolor wonder in lace top, skirt, fishnet stockings and a bevy of bracelets — burst through America’s TV screens and into pop superstardom. For anyone who grew up in the ’80s, her impact was immense. This was not just a singer; this was a force of nature, someone who could rewrite the terms of what it meant to be an entertainer and a woman in a new era. The spotlight didn’t just find her; she demanded it, unapologetically.
It all led to a long career of chart-busting songs, and now the 64-year-old Madonna launches the “Celebration” tour, a series of greatest-hits concerts that will take her to three dozen cities in North America and Europe from July through December. (Tickets go on sale Friday.) As we contemplate the depth of her catalogue and her artistic reinventions along the way, here are some songs that the lucky stars who get tickets may want to hear.
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The Material Girl Era
Madonna’s self-titled debut album, released in 1983, went to No. 8 on the pop chart and spawned three hit singles that were catchy and cute more than provocative. The accompanying music videos established the “Madonna look.” Her follow-up album, Like a Virgin, hit the next year and established her as a bold and dynamic artist, willing to take on more mature topics (the title track) and also express a wry sense of humor about the world that women are expected to inhabit (“Material Girl”).
Songs we want to hear:
The Queen of Pop Era
Through the mid- to late ’80s, Madonna produced hit after hit after hit, and used her cachet to comment on unwed pregnancy in “Papa Don’t Preach” and religion in “Like a Prayer.” The sexual boundary-pushing continued with a somewhat controversial peep show-themed video for “Open Your Heart,” but a mellower artistic side emerged too in “La Isla Bonita.” By the end of the decade, Madonna cemented her status as the Queen of Pop with the tour-de-force dance number “Express Yourself.”