Today — August 16, as of 16 minutes ago — is the 55th birthday of the Queen of Everything: Madonna.

I don’t really need to delve into how or why Madonna will forever own the throne in pop, as many a talented writer will say all that through various listicles, thinkpieces and fanatical tweets over the next few days. (Also, I’m currently on vacation and feeling too gross to write very much on a solid diet of beer, ice cream and chlorine).

The important thing is this: At 55 years old, 30 years deep into her career, Madonna — MDNA, M-Dolla, Dita, Esther the Kabbalah Kween — still reigns supreme. The MDNA Tour alone, the highest grossing tour of 2012, is proof that the Material Girl has the fiery spirit, determination, talent, passion and kale-fueled vascularity to run laps around the pop princesses half her age — literally. (The accompanying DVD, by the way, is an actual work of art.)

She exists as a symbol of true fearlessness, self-expression and tireless passion. She’s the ultimate pop star. The eternal inspiration. The bourgeoisie and the rebel. The Master of Reinvention. The Idol. The Icon. She is the Queen of Pop.

As Britney breathlessly explained to Rolling Stone while honoring her as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time: “Madonna has this thing about her that you can’t explain — the thing that makes somebody a star.”

Happy birthday, Madonna. We love you.