Madonna's Top 5 ballads
•1Crazy for You (1985) My first girlfriend, and my first kiss, was Molly Sherman. It all went down during this, "our" song. Cliche, cheesy — and utterly fantastic.
•2Live to Tell (1986) Madonna has made a career of shoving sex in our face — which is why this gentle cut about secrets and naivete retains a lasting charm.
•3Like a Virgin (1984) Okay, I'm twisted. But there's a certain sweetness to her signature hit about deflowerment via boy toy.
•4Justify My Love (1990) As we established with No. 3, I have issues. But I say this techno throbber qualifies as romantic music — and another good reason not to date me.
•5Take a Bow (1994) Madonna has never been the strongest vocalist, but this is her take on a classy torch song — and it works.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.
Every few years, our lady Madonna thrusts back into the news, strutting some grand age-defying reinvention. But in a rather sweet 2009 twist, her latest ta-da is not so much about looking forward as looking back. Last month, before Kanye West hijacked the MTV VMAs, Madge, right, gave a heartfelt eulogy to longtime pop peer Michael Jackson. No glitz, no controversy — just pained, poignant honesty. And last week, the 51-year-old released Celebration, a 36-song career retrospective digitally remastered from original tapes. One CD is just for dance songs; the other for slower stuff. There's also a DVD of 47 videos. As we look back, a lot of the middle-aged Material Girl's music was pretty fun. But alas, a lot of it wasn't. Papa Don't Preach hasn't aged well; neither has Like a Prayer. And La Isla Bonita has always stunk. Madonna is inherently vainglorious, so anytime she tries to inject substance into a song, I'm not buying it. Borderline, however, remains incandescent. Same with Into the Groove. Madonna is also inherently sexy, so her randy dance stuff has survived quite well. With all those tracks to sift through, Celebration is built for iTunes shopping. To help you out a bit — or at least juice your next party soundtrack — here are our Madonna musts. (I was going to pick videos, too, but I'm terrified of her arms. You're on your own!)
Compiled by Sean Daly, Times pop music critic
Madonna's Top 5 dance songs
•1Ray of Light (1998) The first 23 seconds are spine-tingling. The rest is booty-bumping nirvana. "And I feeeeeeeel..."
•2Borderline (1984) The synthy burble of her first Top 10 is the essence of youthful joy. A perfectly crafted pop pleasure.
•3Into the Groove (1985) "And you can dance / For inspiration!" Even your cement-shoed boyfriend hits the floor for this one.
•4Music (2000) Her funkiest late-career cut. That deep bass beat makes me feel funny inside.
•5Open Your Heart (1986) The synths are sugar-spun, but her voice acquires a new husky tone. Better than you remember.
Weekend movies Dollar amounts in millions
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, $16.7
Toy Story/ Toy Story 2 in 3D, $12.5
The Invention of Lying, $7.4
Top 5 prime-time TV shows
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Dancing With the Stars, Monday (ABC)
Sunday Night Football, Indianapolis at Arizona (NBC)
(Source: Nielsen Media Research; week ending Sept. 27)
Top 5 songs on iTunes
Party in the U.S.A., Miley Cyrus
Whatcha Say, Jason DeRulo
Somebody to Love, Glee Cast
Fireflies, Owl City
I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas
(Source: iTunes Music Store)
Top 5 searches on Yahoo
Dancing with the Stars