It became Madonna's second album to be certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of over 10 million copies across the United States. It spent the second highest number of consecutive weeks at number one for a female solo artist in the UK, being at number one for a 9-week stint. The album has sold 30 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling compilation album by a solo artist and one of the best selling albums of all time.
"Justify My Love", the album's first single, became Madonna's ninth number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and was one of her most controversial singles due to its sexually explicit music video. "Rescue Me" was released as the second single and became the highest-debuting single on Hot 100 by a female artist at that time, entering the chart at number fifteen and peaking at number nine.
Originally titled Ultra Madonna, the name was changed as Warner Bros. felt that it was too similar to the name of dance artist Ultra Naté. Madonna dedicated the album to "The Pope, my divine inspiration". This led to many believing it was dedicated to Pope John Paul II, but it was actually dedicated to her brother, Christopher Ciccone, who had spent the year on tour with Madonna ("The Pope" is one of his nicknames). The production of this album is notable for its use of QSound; all songs were mixed in using it, except "Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me". A QSound mix of "Justify My Love" was later released on the US maxi-single to the song.
All of the songs on The Immaculate Collection (with the exception of the two new songs) were remixed by Shep Pettibone alongside either Goh Hotoda or Michael Hutchinson and some were also edited down from their original lengths in order to decrease the overall running time. While all the vocals remain the same as in the original recordings, "Like a Prayer" and "Express Yourself" feature different music backing Madonna's vocals than their original album release. It was decided that a mixture of ballads and pop-dance hits would be included, although there wasn't space for every single that Madonna had released. "Justify My Love" became the first single to promote the album, and created a furor over the sexual video and the controversy in regards to who wrote it; poet Ingrid Chavez claimed she wrote part of the lyrics alongside credited lyricist Lenny Kravitz. The single shot to number one in the U.S. and number two in the UK. A second release, "Rescue Me", was released in early 1991, which also went top ten.
Warner Bros. released an EP in the UK and Europe titled The Holiday Collection which had the same design as The Immaculate Collection. The full-length version of "Holiday" was included alongside "True Blue", "Who's That Girl", and the Silver Screen Single mix of "Causing a Commotion". The re-released "Holiday" eventually went to No. 5 in the UK charts, while a re-release of the ballad "Crazy for You" (using the new remixed version) peaked at No. 2.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic graded the album five out of five stars. He starts by saying that "On the surface... [the album] appears to be a definitive retrospective of Madonna's heyday in the '80s". However, his opinion is that remastering in Q-Sound, making some of the songs faster than the original versions and other changes, makes it so "while all the hits are present, they're simply not in their correct versions." Nevertheless, he concludes that "until the original single versions are compiled on another album, The Immaculate Collection is the closest thing to a definitive retrospective."Robert Christgau gave the album an A+ rating and called it "the greatest album of [Madonna's] mortal life".
Jim Farber from Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A rating, saying: "More than a mere greatest-hits set, it's hands down the catchiest collection of '80s singles." Ross Bennett from Mojo called the album "truly the best of best of's" and stated: "This has to be right up there with Abba Gold as a collection of singles so deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness [...] But there is no denying the pop nous behind Ms Ciccone's first 15 years of hits, here brilliantly packaged in, gasp, chronological order.
In the United States, The Immaculate Collection debuted at number 32 on the Billboard 200 chart on the week dated December 1, 1990. It later reached number two, and remained 141 weeks on the chart, and has sold 10 million copies across the nation. The album was certified Diamond (10× Platinum) by Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) after its sales.
On November 24, 1990, The Immaculate Collection debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, remaining there for nine weeks, becoming the biggest selling UK album in 1990, also breaking the record for the longest consecutive weeks at number one by a solo female artist, a record that would not be matched until 2011 by Adele's album 21. In the United Kingdom, The Immaculate Collection was certified 12× Platinum by British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 3.6 million copies. In France, the album was certified Diamond for shipment of one million copies of the album. In November 2006, the album was confirmed by the British Phonographic Industry to be the biggest selling album by a solo female artist in British history, and the tenth biggest selling album of all time in the UK by any artist.
CD Limited Edition Box Set — The Royal Box containing a Satin Digi-Pak CD with VHS containing "Vogue" (from the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards), a 24" × 36" color poster and postcard assortment, housed in a lingerie-inspired LP sized box.
CD Limited Edition Gold Edition — Rare 1995 Taiwanese exclusive limited 'Gold' edition in a unique gold-bordered slipcase.
CD Australian Tour Limited Edition - unique picture disc with a collectors number stamped on the front cover. Issued in Australia only in 1993 to commemorate The Girlie Show Tour, Madonna's first tour of Australia.
Cassette — containing the 17-track compilation album.
Cassette Limited Edition Box Set — The Royal Box containing the Cassette version with VHS containing "Vogue" (from the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards), a 24" × 36" color poster and postcard assortment, housed in a lingerie-inspired LP sized box.
Mini Disc — 17-track compilation, released October 25, 1999.
VHS — 13-track video compilation, contains "Oh Father", not included on the audio releases, and "Vogue" (from the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards).
Laserdisc — 13-track double disc video compilation, contains "Oh Father", not included on the audio releases and "Vogue" (from the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards).
VCD — Asia only, 13-track video compilation, contains "Oh Father", not included on the audio releases and "Vogue" (from the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards).
DVD — 13-track video compilation released in November 1999, contains "Oh Father", not included on the audio releases and "Vogue" (from the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards).
iTunes version — released digitally in 2005, contains different versions of: "Lucky Star" (U.S. remix) – 7:15, "Borderline" (remix) – 5:17 and "Like a Prayer" (extended 12" version) – 7:27; all other tracks are the same as the original release.
The Holiday Collection is an EP by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was released as an accompanying title to the greatest hits package The Immaculate Collection only in the United Kingdom in 1991 by Sire Records. The EP was a CD and Cassette maxi-single with "Holiday" as the lead track. It includes three tracks which were omitted from The Immaculate Collection and had been big hits in the UK; "True Blue" (#1), "Who's That Girl" (#1) and "Causing a Commotion" (#4). This was the third time "Holiday" had entered the UK Singles Chart, the first in 1984 reaching number six and the second in 1985 where it reached number two, only being kept off the top spot by her own single "Into the Groove"). This time it reached number five. Some weeks after the CD was released, a very limited cassette was also released, with the same track listing.