Madonna’s Hits-Filled Celebration Tour, Dissected

Credit…Pablo Porciuncula/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Caryn Ganz

Dear listeners,

Lindsay is desperately seeking some time off this week, so I am the first of your guest playlisters: Caryn, the pop music editor. I’m going to tell you a secret — you could consider it one of my confessions on a dance floor. I saw Madonna’s Celebration Tour seven times; eight if you include the livestream from Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night, where the Queen of Pop wrapped her first-ever retrospective with a free show before an estimated 1.6 million people on Copacabana Beach.

Some have asked why, so a brief explanation: I believe Madonna is the most important and influential solo figure in pop history, and I don’t skip opportunities to see her onstage, where she has innovated and thrilled throughout her four-decade career. (If you’re wondering who was behind “60 Times Madonna Changed Our Culture,” wonder no more.) I was too young to catch the Virgin or Who’s That Girl tours — and nobody took me to Blond Ambition or the Girlie Show (ahem, parents) — so my live history begins with Drowned World in 2001 and I have done my best to catch up.

The Confessions Tour from 2006 is the best I’ve seen in person, the Tears of a Clown revival at Art Basel in 2016 was the zaniest, and Celebration is the first one I’ve reviewed (on its U.S. leg’s opening night in October). Repeated viewings haven’t changed my initial critical overview, though some parts of the show grew on me, some vocal performances sharpened up, and some of the extemporaneous speeches Madonna gave during the two breaks each night designed for them were stunningly raw and moving. (See Bonus Tracks below for more on that.)

But the point of today’s playlist is to take a deeper (and deeper) look at the songs Madonna did — and didn’t — select for the tour. The first five tracks are my favorites from the show, which has a lot to do with how she staged them. The second six are songs that were sorely missed, so should you ever do a Celebration 2, M, please consider them official requests.

Crazy for you,


Listen along while you read.

Back to top button