Celebrating Madonna’s best album covers

by Isaiah Webster III

As Madonna releases her third greatest hits collection tomorrow, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and rank Madge’s best album covers of all time. Don’t panic! That awful “Hard Candy” cover did not make the list. But after 25 years of entertaining us, Madonna has certainly delivered some classics. Here is my top 5.

#5 – RAY OF LIGHT You can almost feel the presence of William Orbit on this cover. “Ray of Light” was a breakthrough CD for Madonna in every sense of the word. This collection of music was the first to come after she completed “Evita” and gave birth to Lourdes. Madonna was at her most expressive and creative — earning her first Grammy. The artwork also perfectly compliments the music. Though I disagree, many consider this album her best.

#4 – LIKE A PRAYER This album was released in 1989 shortly after Madonna divorced Sean Penn, and in my view, it’s her best work of all time. Had it not been for the controversy surrounding the video for the title track, this album would have probably earned Madonna a Grammy. Though the cover does not include her face, the shot of her crotch and jewelry perfectly captures the mood of the CD. And who says belly buttons aren’t sexy?

#3 – CELEBRATION The covers for Madonna’s first two greatest hits collections (“The Immaculate Collection” and “GHV2”) missed the mark, though the former is much better than the latter. This cover is perfect! It captures the essence of Madonna and her music. More than anything else, Madonna is pop culture. And after 25 years in the business, this cover perfectly represents her as a pop culture icon. Fabulous!

#2 – CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR “Confessions on a Dance Floor” is the ultimate dance CD and this cover was flawless. It’s airbrushed to high hell and almost comic bookish in its colors, but the artwork sets the tone for the mega hits on the disc. Madonna started doing themes with her albums some time ago, but where Music’s belt buckles seemed a bit forced, there’s no doubt that Confession’s disco balls are the real deal!

#1 – TRUE BLUE We may never know for sure, but I’m convinced that “True Blue” is Madonna’s favorite album so far. We do know for certain that it contains one of her favorite songs — “La Isla Bonita.” This cover carries a classic Madonna shot by Herb Ritts. (The actual picture is full, though the CDs carry this cropped version.) Madonna looks elegant, beautiful and oh so swan-like. This cover represented a calculated break from her “Like A Virgin” image. This was the first of many, many makeovers. When you combine a beautiful woman and a great photographer, the results can be perfection. By leaps and bounds, this cover is Madonna’s best.