Madonna delivered her self-titled debut album in the middle of the summer of 1983. Ever since that July day 40 years ago, the undisputed Queen of Pop has been near the epicenter of pop culture, shaping the sound and style of pop music by repurposing outré dance club fashions for a wider audience. “Vogue,” her glamorous house-inspired single from 1990, is perhaps the zenith of this talent, but the music she released before and after that landmark hit are a testament to her status as the most restless and fearless pop artist this side of David Bowie.
Madonna planned to celebrate this momentous occasion by taking her greatest hits out on tour but health problems got in the way. Although her Celebration Tour has been postponed because of her June hospitalization—rescheduled dates are on the horizon—the time remains ripe to celebrate a body of work that’s lost none of its vibrancy, as this list of 40 essential songs attests.