Burning Up!

Madonna live in concert can be a religious experience — especially for the performer herself. On 2004's "Re-Invent Yourself Tour," Madge mixed spiritual iconography of various faiths the way a DJ mashes up records, while her current "Confession Tour" finds her kickin' back atop a giant crucifix.

Alas, we don't all have the stamina to brave the arena-size crowds and steep prices that such an appearance requires. So we humbly offer this mixtape of Madonna (and Madonna-inspired) tunes for the homebodies and claustrophobics. With a few exceptions, it's a playlist that could easily be replicated in one's personal MP3 player. It's also a friendly reminder that what's always been most fascinating about Madonna is observing how she affects others.

"Justify My Thug" (2003)
It took an eclectic musical mind like West Coast gangster rap producer DJ Quik to flip a sample of the infamous "Justify My Love" into a groove fitting for Jay-Z's swagger. Unfortunately they didn't film an accompanying steamy black-and-white video like Madonna (and later Saturday Night Live) did.

"Material Girl" (1999)
The industrial music overlords have the distinction of the most unusual cover version in Madonna history. Imagine militant anarchists En Esch and Sasha Konietzko scowling through this bubblegum hit; it definitely doesn't go pop.

"Bedtime Story" (1994)
Björk wrote this song for Mrs. Ritchie, giving her the lyrics she always wanted the Material Girl to recite. Kinda snarky, if you ask us, considering it says stuff like, "Today is the last day that I'm using words." But it's also utterly brilliant. As gorgeous as this song is — holding up well through time — it is perhaps unsurprising that Björk was never invited to write another song for Madonna.

MC Miker G and DJ
"Holiday Rap" (1986)
Just a few years after Madge scored a Top 10 hit with "Holiday," a couple of Dutch geezers cheekily slapped their own Euro-trashed version of rhyming over the instrumental and bested the original in terms of pop chart domination. True, you might never have heard "Holiday Rap," but this catchy little bugger went number one in a staggering 34 countries.

Junior Vasquez
"If Madonna Calls" (1996)
"Hello, Junior. This is Madonna. Are you there? Call me in Miami." So goes the infamous answering machine message circling a pounding house tune from her former trusty remixer. The song was a fair hit in clubland, but it ended up assing Vasquez out of working with her ever again. Was it worth it? To us, yeah!

"Santa Baby" (1987)
When the charity compilation A Very Special Christmas came out in 1987, everyone was rapping along with Run-D.M.C. to "Christmas in Hollis." But Madonna also appears, putting on her very best Shirley Temple impression. Priceless.

Weird Al Yankovic
"Like a Surgeon" (1985)
We miss Weird Al at his absolute best, as he was on this MTV hit that found him dressed in scrubs and writhing atop a gurney in his tribute to a chastened Madonna on an Italian gondola. "Like a surgeon, hey/Cuttin' for the very first time/Like a surgeon/Here's a waiver for you to sign."

Kelly Osbourne
"Papa Don't Preach" (2003)
The attempt was appreciated, but Kelly Osbourne probably shouldn't continue with a record career. That said, "Papa Don't Preach" was an ideal choice for her to cover, if only for the great imagery of Ozzy in a priestly collar that it conjures up if you're just sick enough. After all, Papa really shouldn't preach when he has actually beheaded things.

"Sorry (Pet Shop Boys Remix)" (2006)
Pet Shop Boys Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant removed the ABBA instrumental samples and infused Tennant's distinct harmonies into this remix, creating a European pop hit. A guilty pleasure to the millionth degree, this song shows the three could have been a power-pop trio for the ages, a tour de force that could put Ace of Base to shame.

Loleatta Holloway
"Like a Prayer" (1999)
Occasionally an artist performing a cover will absolutely best the original in terms of vocal chops, and that's what we have here as the princess of disco/mama of house music takes on another controversial favorite. The sense of religious propriety that was somewhat lacking as Madge humped her black Jesus in the video is found in Holloway's version. Hallelujah — we are healed.

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Tamara Palmer