Twenty-five years after her career began, Madonna has reasserted her position as the queen of pop with Monday's release of her 11th album Hard Candy.
Madonna was recently inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame
Since she exploded into the charts in the early 1980s, Madonna has been pop's most enduring star, an icon of music and style and a shrewd businesswoman.
She has consistently come up with hit after hit, harnessing the prevailing musical trends of the time - from the fantastic pop of Like A Virgin to the futuristic sounds of her latest number one, 4 Minutes.
She has scored 44 UK top five singles, with tracks like Into The Groove, Like A Prayer, Vogue, Ray Of Light and Hung Up keeping her at the top of the pop pile.
Born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone in Michigan, US, on 16 August 1958, she and her five siblings were raised by her car engineer father after her mother died of breast cancer.
A strict Catholic disciplinarian, he reportedly refused even to let his children watch TV.
Mr Ciccone famously disapproved of Madonna's later reinventions, particularly when her 1989 Like A Prayer video, with its burning crosses, brought condemnation from the Vatican.
Dance music was Madonna's first love and she went to New York to study with choreographer Alvin Ailey in 1978, taking risque modelling jobs to pay the bills.
Madonna's early hits included Holiday, Lucky Star and Like A Virgin
After a spell in France with disco star Patrick Hernandez, she played drums and sang with two bands called Breakfast Club and Emmy.
She began to bleach her dark hair and modelled herself on sirens like Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich at their most provocative.
The material girl was born - and she had her first mainstream pop success with Holiday in 1984.
A stream of catchy hits like Into The Groove, Dress You Up and Papa Don't Preach, all coupled with headline-grabbing videos, marked her out as not just a star, but one with a brilliant knack for publicity.
She also tried her hand at acting too, co-starring with Rosanna Arquette in Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985.
She then made Shanghai Surprise with her former husband, actor Sean Penn. The couple married amid a media frenzy in 1985, but divorced four years later.
Later, her portrayal of Argentine heroine Eva Peron in 1996 won her a Golden Globe.
Madonna and Guy Richie married in Scotland in 2000
By the 1990s, Madonna's reputation as a strong businesswoman, in control of her own career, was firmly established.
She deftly managed the release of yet more hits like Vogue and Justify My Love, but also produced books like the erotic photo book Sex, as well as the controversial documentary In Bed With Madonna.
After the relative disappointment of 1992's Erotica album, she took a turn towards R&B with Bedtime Stories two years later.
But she really rediscovered her magic touch when she returned to club sounds by enlisting dance boffin William Orbit to produce Ray of Light in 1998.
It earned her three Grammy Awards, including best pop album and best dance recording.
Her personal life was also not standing still. She had her first child, Lourdes, with fitness trainer Carlos Leon in 1996.
Four years later, she married British film director Guy Ritchie - famous for Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch - and their son, Rocco, was born in August 2000.
The relationship rekindled Madonna's interest in acting, and Ritchie directed her in the 2002 romance Swept Away - which was savaged by critics and fans alike.
Her tours have contributed to an estimated £300m fortune
The film earned five Razzies, the Hollywood "awards" for the worst in film.
She also appeared on stage in West End play Up For Grabs in 2002, but that received a lukewarm reception.
She has since largely steered clear of acting, but has made two more films - including her directorial debut with London-set comedy Filth and Wisdom, which failed to impress most reviewers.
She has also written and produced documentary I Am Because We Are, about the plight of orphans in Malawi.
That followed her adoption, still to be finalised, of two-year-old David Banda, which drew criticism from some who claimed she used her celebrity status to "fast-track" the process and get around Malawian laws.
Her interest in Kabbalah, a type of Jewish mysticism, has also put the spotlight on her personal life.
Meanwhile, Madonna was inducted into the US Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in March, and her tours, album sales and varied projects have amassed a fortune of £300m, according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.
Madonna turns 50 in August
At the end of her record deal with Warner, Madonna showed her business acumen by signing a groundbreaking, wide-ranging contract with concert promoter Live Nation to cover all of her musical activities, including tours, albums, merchandise and DVDs.
She has also been quick to sign sponsorship deals for songs from Hard Candy, licensing them to be used on TV adverts, in mobile phone exclusives and on TV shows.
But it all comes down to the quality of her music, and Hard Candy has been hailed as her best album since Ray of Light.
With her 50th birthday approaching, Madonna shows few signs of relinquishing her pop crown.