There’s no doubt about it, Madonna is one of the most important figures in music. Known for pushing the boundaries of pop culture, she’s sold millions of albums worldwide, and still remains relevant (and controversial) today, 33 years on from her first single release. As an icon for women her influence has been immeasurable. She was the first woman to make real use of the emerging concept of the music video, she has emerged as a successful business woman, and continues to subvert what’s established and what’s “normal” in pop culture, and instead Madonna marches to the beat of her own drum.
After four studio records The Immaculate Collection was Madonna’s first greatest hits release. Featuring all her hit singles from 1983 to 1990, it’s sold 30 million copies worldwide – making it the best selling compilation album of all time. Nowadays, a greatest hits collection means a handful of top 10 singles with a load of new tracks, which a band or artist puts out to try and reinvigorate their career. In the case of The Immaculate Collection it’s the total opposite. Each track, with the exception of ‘Justify My Love’ and ‘Rescue Me’ that were written specifically for the album, had been a genuine success. And the two aforementioned that were written for The Immaculate Collection both ended up being top five hits. It’s testament to Madonna as an artist that she had so many successful hits over seven years that she had to cut tracks that were incredibly popular from the final track listing: ‘Dear Jessie’ (1989) reached number five in the UK Charts and was certified silver, ‘Causing A Commotion’ (1987) reached the top 10 around the world and ‘True Blue’ (1986) was a UK number one, yet none of these made the cut. However, when you see the array of songs included on the record, you can see why they weren’t included.
From the self-assured confidence of ‘Like A Virgin’ to the effortlessly cool ‘Vogue’, the ultimate 80s power anthem ‘Express Yourself’ and the atomic riffs in ‘Material Girl’, Madonna’s done it all. She’s an expert in crafting catchy, relatable pop bangers that stand the test of time. Then there are tracks like ‘Like A Prayer’, which featured a gospel choir and lyrics that have dual meanings of both religion and sexual innuendo. The music video was so controversial that the Vatican condemned it, and Pepsi pulled their endorsement of Madonna; but regardless of the controversy critics praised ‘Like A Prayer’ unanimously.
The Immaculate Collection showcases everything Madonna can do. It’s not fussy nor is it trying to be clever, it’s just a compilation of the bloody good pop songs she’s released. All hail the ultimate queen of pop.
The Immaculate Collection was released on November 9th, 1990 via Sire & Warner Bros. Records.