Madonna is the queen of reinventing herself — but that doesn’t mean she wants to leave her old classics behind.
On Thursday, the music icon, 63, released “Frozen on Fire,” a remix of her 1998 hit “Frozen,” with the artist Sickick. The remix — which features fresh vocals from Madonna and verses sung by Sickick — is the fourth iteration of “Frozen” to be made since the DJ first reinvented the song in 2021.
“I think what’s special about this version is that Sickick is singing on it,” Madonna tells PEOPLE. “I didn’t actually think of him as a singer or a musician or a songwriter or anything. I thought of him as a DJ. So, when it was presented to me that he wanted to do his version, I was kind of skeptical at first. But then when I heard it, I was blown away by his musicianship, by his sense of musicality, by his melody, his singing, everything.”
“When I ended up going in the studio with him and recording with him, I thought, ‘This makes perfect sense to end with him because he started it, the remix,'” she continues. “He has a fantastic voice. When I first heard it, I thought it was The Weeknd.”
Madonna first came across Sickick’s 2021 remix of “Frozen” when people started making videos to it on TikTok.
“I was like, ‘Hey, wait a minute. What is this? This is my song,'” she recalls. “It all happened by divine inspiration, I guess, because then once I heard them, I wanted to make more of them and do new versions of them that had different people singing on them and doing their take on it.”
Since the initial remix, which has soundtracked nearly one million TikTok videos to date, Madonna and Sickick have released a version of the track with Nigerian singer Fireboy DML in March and a version with New Jersey’s 070 Shake in April.
As to whether she could’ve imagined “Frozen” would be as popular as ever more than two decades after its original release, Madonna says, “I had absolutely no idea, but I’m pleasantly surprised!”
“It’s fantastic,” she says. “The original song is great. The video is great and what’s happening with it now is great. Like I said, I feel like it’s come full circle and it has a new life and it has a new kind of relevancy.”
Given that TikTok is now a huge force in driving streaming and sales numbers, Madonna says she’s learned to adjust to the trend.
“I come from the world [where you] spend years working on a record and releasing, and it goes in cycles,” she says. “So you put a record out every three years or something like that, and it’s an enormous amount of work. There’s good sides and bad sides of TikTok. You know? But to me, the good side is that you don’t have to wait so long to release something.”
“You can put something out and you can have an audience instantly and you can get feedback instantly and you don’t need a whole huge marketing machine,” she adds. “You get people telling you right away whether something’s working or not. So it’s great to have a new way to get music out.”
“Frozen on Fire” is just the start of what’s to come for Madonna in 2022. On Aug. 19, she plans to release Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones, a 50-track remix collection that explores her dominance on the Billboard Dance Club chart for more than 40 years. (A 16-track version of the album is due out June 24.)
To put together the project, “I had to listen to a lot of remixes and take a trip down memory lane,” she says. “I was also reminded of how different production was then than it is now, with real drums and analog production technology, to now digital technology. Everything’s done in Logic or Pro Tools on a computer. You don’t even have to be in a recording studio.”
“So from where I started, making music in my apartment on the Lower East Side, and then having to go to a recording studio to record it, to where I am now and how I’ve been working, it was a good lesson on how music has changed and the way we make music has changed, the way we listen to music has changed,” she continues. “It was kind of historical education, listening to my own remixes.”
When she looks back on her musical catalog, Madonna says she has moments where she’s “astonished” at all the work that went into her career.
“I remember things and I remember moments in time of where I was when I made that record and what producer was I working with and what studio was I in and what city was I in and what was going on in my life,” she says. “I mean, I’ve been very blessed to have the career that I’ve had, so it’s nice to be able to look back at my catalog of music and have that experience.”
Just three days after Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones’ release, Madonna will celebrate her birthday on Aug. 19. In honor of turning 64, she plans to host an extravaganza just as special as last year’s celebration in Italy.
“I always have to do something special and unique on my birthday and go somewhere that I’ve never been before and create a magical experience, not only for myself and my children, but for my friends,” she says. “So I’m still hashing that one out. It’s between two places, but I don’t want to say where because I don’t want to jinx myself — and I also don’t want everybody to go there and get a hotel room!”
Though the plans are under wraps for now, Madonna promises that like with so much of her career, “I’ll take everyone on the journey with me.”