The Year in Music 2023: Madonna battles back after illness derails her “Celebration”

2023 was the year that Madonna did something she rarely does: looked back.

In January, rumors that the Queen of Pop would do a 40th anniversary tour — her first-ever retrospective trek — came true: She announced The Celebration Tour, set to kick off July 15 in Vancouver. In a statement, she said, “I am excited to explore as many songs as possible in hopes to give my fans the show they have been waiting for.” 

But February was less happy for Madonna. Her brother Anthony Ciccone die on February 25, and earlier that month she faced online criticism for her appearance at the Grammy Awards. She wrote, “Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world we live in.”

There was more bad news in June: The Celebration Tour was put on hold after Madonna landed in the hospital. Her manager, Guy Oseary, wrote on Instagram, “On Saturday June 24, Madonna developed a serious bacterial infection which led to a several day stay in the ICU … at this time we will need to pause all commitments.”

Despite that, Madonna still made chart history in June. “Popular,” a song she did with The Weeknd and Playboi Carti, debuted at #43 on the Hot 100. It made her the only female artist other than Cher to have Hot 100 debuts in five separate decades.

After leaving the hospital, Madonna celebrated the 40th anniversary of her debut album on Instagram on July 27. “To be able to move my body and dance just a little bit makes me feel like the Luckiest Star in the world!” she wrote. “Happy 40th Birthday to my very. First Album.” That same month, she announced that the Celebration Tour would start October 14 in London and arrive in North America in December.

In August, Madonna turned 65. That same month, she took her kids to see Beyoncé, who acknowledged her presence at the New Jersey stop of her Renaissance Tour by saying, “Big shout-out to the Queen! Queen Mother, Madonna, we love you!”

When the tour began in October, Madonna told the audience, “It’s been a crazy year. I didn’t think I was going to make it and neither did my doctors.” 

The tour, which features appearances by several of Madonna’s kids, has earned raves from fans and critics alike. It features many of her most beloved songs, including “Into the Groove,” “Open Your Heart,” “Vogue,” “Live to Tell,” “Like a Prayer,” “Ray of Light” and “Holiday,” plus staging and costumes that nod to the many different phases of her career. The tour continues through April 2024.

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