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Music DVD Review: Madonna – Celebration: The Video Collection

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Celebration: The Video Collection is a collection of forty-seven of Madonna's music videos spread over two DVDs with a running time of approximately three and a half hours. This is more expansive than the thirty-six track CD counterpart.

One of my gripes with the CD version is the non-chronological sequencing, which makes hearing her artistic progression impossible without creating a customized playlist. Thankfully these music videos are presented in order from earliest to most recent. The viewer is treated to a fascinating journey through Madonna's career, as her look and sound changes and evolves. While it would have been nice if this release contained all of her music videos, the selection is more than generous.

There's a healthy dose of nostalgia involved in watching these videos for anyone who grew up during the 1980s in particular. More so than the decades that followed, Madonna was one of the three most visually dynamic performers to really break out during that time. It should go without saying that she has maintained a high level of commercial success right up to present day.

But during the '80s it was largely Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna that set the dominant tone for the way pop music looked and sounded. The former two easily outshine Madonna when it comes to vocals. Prince's nearly unparalleled musicianship (by pop standards, at least) also trumps Madonna's comparatively novice skill set. But Madonna was arguably tops in reinventing herself visually. Naturally those abilities are best appreciated when watching her, hence the value in this release.

Many of these clips are very well known, having been played to death on MTV and VH-1 back in the days when music videos dominated those channels' programming.

As a casual fan, I found many of the lesser seen clips interesting. Songs like "Rain," "What It Feels Like For A Girl," and "Give It 2 Me" aren't among her biggest hits, in the U.S. at least, and their videos didn't receive a ton of airplay. The songs themselves aren't very good, as the quality of her work slipped more and more as the years went on. One after another uninspired dud drags across the screen, making disc two a bit much for the non-fanatic. As Madonna ages before our very eyes, becoming more sinewy and gaunt, her attempts to maintain her sex appeal appear garish and embarrassing.

The odd thing about owning music video collections on DVD is that they don't necessarily hold much replay value. While it was entertaining revisiting the older promos, I can't imagine finding a reason to spend much time with them. An artist with the massive popularity of Madonna deserves a set like Celebration: The Video Collection, but I'm guessing only the truly obsessed will commit the time needed to justify dropping around thirty bucks on it.

The video quality is a mixed bag. Most of the visual problems crop up during the earlier clips, which were photographed on much more primitive equipment. The video is presented in 4:3, with even the later widescreen videos windowboxed. All things considered, especially when viewed on a Blu-ray player and hi-def TV, this is a pretty rough looking set. Even some of the later videos have an excess of visual noise and are lacking in sharpness.

Fans will inevitably pick this up, but are ultimately going to be disappointed by the missing videos that could have made this collection definitive. Casual fans will likely overdose during the 112 minute second disc that probably digs a bit too deep into the Madonna catalog. Add to that the so-so video quality that plagues many of the videos, plus a PCM stereo track that sounds better than the Dolby surround track, and it all adds up to an underwhelming experience.

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About The Other Chad

Hi, I'm Chaz Lipp. An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."
  • Josh

    What an EVIL review, are you NUTS, Madonna’s vocals are better than that freal Jackson and also Prince. She has more talent than both of them I saw all 3 live and no one comes close to Madonna, no one has better singles or albums and her new music is far better than her 1st hits. This review is a joke at best.

  • The Other Chad

    Hey Josh, thanks for checking in, my man! Glad you enjoyed my review.

  • sid

    Thanks for the review. I think you are spot on in your analysis of Madonna vs. Jackson and Prince….and that is hard for me to say given my Madonna addiction. I am very disappointed to hear of the limited video quality and especially the decision to letterbox the wider formatted videos…it actually gives me pause enough to NOT buy them…hmmm.

  • Felix

    I have been a Madonna fan her entire career and in the 80’s she was on top, the 90’s for her was all about expirementation and being bold and in your face..she has changed alot since she’s had kids…of course who wouldn’t….she has put out a couple of her best albums the last 10 years….Music and Confessions, her concerts in the last 10 years have been fantastic….the song Celebration could have been so much better…she recycled alot of lyrics in it..and the original version’s music was dated..it sounds like something you would have heard on the radio 10 years ago….the video quality on the dvds is really just so so….and I hate the fact that both Justify my love and Erotica are censored…some of the songs on the audio Cds were edited really badly….I still love her, but I was kinda disappointed with the collection..

  • dario

    It’s just terrible; apparently MTV is officially dying, perhaps alongside original music television in general. This collection is just a waste of really decent Madonna material. She was an absolute star***** and to, basically, ruin and tempt us with music videos that don’t do themselves justice, because of how they’ve been presented to us, means: we don’t have them; do we. Still ultimately controlled by the companies / t.v. networks. Which, I will add, means there is still hope for music T.V but why release them? I bought it for £20, but will now just take it back for refund..Vogue seems struck off [strike a pose vocal at start clipped; unless in some sort of magnificant stereo??]..Justify My Love is completely censored..and the original transfer from music television playback seems to be severly comprimised with. You might want to have them. I sure did..and it sure is tempting. But it’s not the real deal unfortunately. They [the companies] own her and I do believe she, herself, becomes fustrated at the comprimise of artistic integrity.. maybe one day.when there isn’t so much insecurity around. when there’s more confidence.more focus.less societal anxiety. when the internet flips to the other side of social conscience. when this next generation lets go of their subconscious insecurities..we will view a magnificant progression of what sincerely began with MTV.

    This dvd is a confused attempt at next generation authorship; where this next generation will never understand how progressive MTV generation was; how it was linked into societal conciousness, or, understand how to control or further it, unless they, understand that there’s a back seat to be had: front row in front of the T.V. NOT behind it. miss it. and you wont miss me;)