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.