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Happy 55th Birthday to Madonna, Queen of Pop

Sara De Boer/STARTRAKS PHOTO via ABCThe news this past week has been all about new music from Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, but they both owe more than they'd probably care to admit to the woman celebrating her birthday today: Madonna, the Queen of Pop.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who turns 55 Friday, has not only influenced several generations of female -- and some male -- performers, but continues to be a vital touring and recording artist, with no plans to retire anytime soon.  While appearing on NBC's Rock Center last year, she said, "I certainly have stuff left to say and I think that's really why I'm doing it. I still feel like expressing myself that way and I'll keep doing it as long as I do."

While last year was an exceptionally busy one for Madonna -- she released her #1 album MDNA, circled the globe on her record-breaking MDNA tour and launched her first line of fragrances -- 2013 hasn't exactly seen her sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and binge-watching Breaking Bad.   Among her accomplishments this year:

--Joining Instagram and immediately violating the site's community guidelines with her racy content.

--Making headlines for wearing a jacket, fishnets and no pants at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's star-studded "Punk" gala.

--Marking the 30th anniversary of the release of her self-titled debut disc, which Entertainment Weekly named one of the "100 All-Time Greatest Albums."

--Appearing on Rolling Stone's list of the 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.

--Winning the Top Touring Artist Award at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.

--Celebrating her son Rocco's bar mitzvah.

--Seeing the film of her MDNA tour, which she was intimately involved in putting together, debut on EPIX.  It's out on DVD in September.

--Coming in at #5 on Forbes' "Celebrity 100" list, and #1 on Billboard's Top Money Makers List.

In addition, Madonna has been focusing heavily on social activism.  In March, she presented an award to Anderson Cooper at the GLAAD Media Awards dressed as a boy scout, and from the podium, she denounced the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy.  She auctioned off a painting for more than seven million dollars, and will use the money to support girls' education projects in the Middle East and South Asia.  In June, she appeared at the Sound of Change concert in London, where she called for a "revolution of love," and urged fans to donate money to help her build schools for girls in Pakistan and other countries.

Speaking to ABC News Radio a few years ago, Madonna said she never expected that her music would also allow her to become a factor for good in the world.  "I didn't think about what I could do to help people when I started my career.  I just wanted to get my songs played on the radio, you know what I mean?" she said. "And to know that I have made a difference in people's lives...I mean, a lot of people come up to me and they say, 'You saved my life.'"

The mother of four has also been working on a "secret project" with photographer Steven Klein, and while she's released a few creepy and disturbing trailers for it, she still hasn't told us what it is.

As for how Madonna is celebrating her birthday, she was just photographed in the south of France this week with her kids and her buff, hot, much-younger boyfriend, Brahim Zaibat.  You go, Queen of Pop.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio