Two years ago, right as "Like a Prayer" was turning 25, we ranked the 68 singles Madonna has released since her 1982 debut. Since then, "Rebel Heart" -- the singer's 13th studio album -- brought that total to 71, while another headline-grabbing world tour extended the shelf life of some of Madonna's classics. Now it's time to update our rankings.
In instances where the Rebel Heart Tour prompted us to reevaluate certain songs, we've noted significant changes that depart from the previous list and linked to the performances that inspired them. A few other tracks were slightly reshuffled because who doesn't question their judgment two years later? Otherwise, it's the same drill as before.
• Billboard Hot 100 success
(Many songs made splashes on the Hot Dance Club Play chart and abroad, including some that failed to chart on the Hot 100. For the sake of these rankings, only the Hot 100 performance was considered.)
• Single’s longevity, or: Do people still know it? Is it still played on the radio and in other public arenas?
• How the song contributed to Madonna’s image and critical reception
• Author’s personal taste
• Promotional singles don’t count (e.g. “Nobody Knows Me,” “Hey You”).
• Featured-artist credits don’t count (e.g. “Me Against the Music” with Britney Spears).
• Any songs that were not released as singles in the United States don't count. Two exceptions: “Into the Groove” and “Fever,” neither of which was technically released as a single. Both were hits in their own right regardless, becoming some of Madonna’s most famous songs.