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There has never been nor will there ever be another pop star like Madonna. With more than 300 million records sold worldwide, Madonna is recognized as the world’s top-selling female recording artist of all time according to the latest statistics found in the Guinness Book of World Records. She is also reportedly to best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second top-selling female artist in the U.S. ranking just behind Barbra Streisand. In 2008, Billboard magazine named Madonna at number two just behind the Beatles for the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists listings making her the most successful solo artist in the history of the Billboard music charts.

Madonna performs live on her massive “Sweet & Sticky” tour (2008). Photo: Getty Images

Born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958 just outside of Detroit, MI in Bay City, little Madonna became equal parts rebel and revolutionary at an early age. Losing her beloved mother, whom she was named after, to breast cancer at the age of 30 would forever impact her life, her faith, her relationships, her career and often times, her music. A leader, an innovator and a music icon are just a few titles tagged alongside Madonna’s name for years.

Ambitious and determined to be a star, Madonna took to the streets of New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. A series of quick gigs and fast bookings allowed her the chance to join music groups the Breakfast Club and Emmy before finding immense popularity with her self-titled debut album’s launch in 1983. She quickly became a musical staple on the radio and on MTV in the 1980-1990s releasing many number one singles, subsequent full length albums and an arsenal of innovative and sometimes controversial accompanying music videos.

One of her first controversial run-ins came in January 1989 after she’d signed an endorsement deal with Pepsi. That arrangement soon went sour when Madonna debuted her song “Like a Prayer” and its corresponding video featuring many Catholic symbols, burning crosses and interracial affairs which ultimate got her music condemned by the Vatican.

Madonna performs live during her Australian stop on her “The Girlie Show” World Tour in 1993. (Photo: Getty Images)

Later, she ran into even more controversy with the release of her raunchy, sexually uninhibited musical numbers such as “Justify My Love” (deemed too sexually explicit for MTV in 1990 after provocative images of same-sex kissing, bondage and sadomasochism were found in the video) and the unforgettable live performances of her signature hit “Like a Virgin.” The scenes were so risque that Madonna’s “Blond Ambition” tour which began in April of 1990 was quickly met with religious outrage, news headlines and more speculation, but as always Madonna continued to follow the beat of her own drum no matter what.

An actress, an entrepreneur, an author, a businesswoman and a mother of three, Madonna can do it all. She’s shown us for years how to diversify a musical portfolio by working with everyone from Lenny Kravitz to Justin Timberlake and super-producer Timbaland. Today, we honor one of the world’s biggest and brightest stars for over two decades of great music that leaves us dancing and bobbing to the beat all over the world. Without Madonna, there’d be no artists like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga. She’s paved the way and she’s done it on her own terms with massive chart-topping singles, forward-thinking and progressive masterpieces in her music videos and colossal world tours.

Happy Birthday Madonna! We love you! Now strike a pose!

Madonna performs a controversial live set during her “Blond Ambition” tour in 1990. (Photo: Getty Images)


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Name your favorite Madonna single by leaving a comment on our message board below. Simply use your Twitter or Facebook profile to comment. Or choose from the options within our Madonna Greatest Hits music poll to help us decide which one of her colossal hits ranks the highest with fans across the world.

Madonna Greatest Hits Poll


  • Madonna – 1983
  • Like a Virgin – 1984
  • True Blue – 1986
  • Like a Prayer – 1989
  • Erotica – 1992
  • Bedtime Stories – 1994
  • Ray of Light – 1998
  • Music – 2000
  • American Life – 2003
  • Confessions on a Dance Floor – 2005
  • Hard Candy – 2008





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