The Farr Side: Madonna’s career in review

David T. Farr More Content Now

Madonna turned 57 this week. This woman is never going to be O-L-D.

I can remember the first time I saw Madonna on network TV:?She was on “American Bandstand” to perform “Lucky Star” from her self-titled debut album. After the performance, host Dick Clark asked her what she wanted to accomplish. She simply said, “I want to rule the world.”

In essence, Madonna did it. The?Material?Girl went on to become the most iconic female entertainer of our time.

Madonna’s track record speaks for itself. According to Billboard, she has a record 157 No. 1 singles across all formats, the most for any artist in history. Of those, 82 managed to place on the Hot 100.

She has has sold well over 300 million albums and is recognized by Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling female artist of all time. She helped put MTV on the map.?She earned multiple awards for her music including Grammy, Billboard, American Music and World Music Awards. She has a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for “Evita.” And she was inducted in the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame the first year she was eligible.

Madonna also could write a book titled “How to Work the Press.” She took the art of making news to her advantage, long before social media came along. She’s just as smart a businesswoman as she is an entertainer.

Her ability to change her image, appearance, style and sound constantly kept her in the now. Known as The Mother of Re-Invention, she always kept us guessing and wanting more. Couple that with her ability to stir controversy and you have an unstoppable force.

There isn’t enough space to list all her career highlights, but I will share a few.

* “Lucky Star” and “Like A Virgin” were great pop songs, but it was her ballad “Crazy For You” from the movie Vision Quest that solidified her star for me. It was unexpected, especially coming from the woman who had rolled around the stage floor in a wedding dress at the 1984 VMA’s.

* The entire “True Blue” album. Every track was great including “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Live To Tell,” both of which, remain favorites on mine from her.

* “Like A Prayer” was a controversial masterpiece, and “Express Yourself” ushered in a new sound not heard in popular music at that time.

* “Vogue” struck genius and still sounds every bit as good today as it did in 1990. “Rain” is a beautifully sung song with a gorgeous video.

* She was born to play “Evita.” I can’t think of anyone who could have done any better than Madonna did. Sorry, Meryl. This was Madonna’s baby.

* “Ray Of Light” is such an incredible track, and it’s timeless. I was in the audience at The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2001 for her “Drowned World Tour” when it was recorded live via HBO. I will never forget the moment she appeared on stage with that song. It was such a cool moment, the hair on my arms felt like needles.

* Her live cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” from her “I’m Going To Tell You A Secret” documentary is the best cover version of that iconic song I’ve heard. I think Lennon himself would have been in awe of her take.

With so many hits, some of Madonna’s music gets unfairly overloooked: “Oh Father,” “Keep It Together,” “Don’t Stop,” “Drowned World (Substitute For Love),” “The Power Of Goodbye,” “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” “Masterpiece” and “Ghost Town.” All of those tracks deserve another listen. Do yourself a favor and check them out again.

Happy birthday, Madonna.

Contact David T. Farr at