Madonna: ‘Ray of Light’ – Album Review

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Released: March 3, 1998

Having a near-four year break from release an album, Madonna, America’s Queen of Pop, had a series of life changing effects; she became a mother, had a boyfriend, replenished her acting career, and became widely inspired by her lifestyle changes. This all evolved Ray of Light, Madonna’s seventh studio album and her most accomplishing and inspiring record to date. She channeled several sounds and styles through the 80s and mid-90s, and it looks like Madonna focused on the thrilling drive of electronica and diverse oriental elements. The album’s opening track “Drowned World / Substitute for Love” is a pretty chill out song, but doesn’t exactly represent the album that well. But luckily, the first half of the album is thrilling; you get the groovy psychedelic rock “Swim”, the agile house “Ray of Light”, the gooey trip-hop “Candy Perfume Girl”, and the spacey tribal house “Skin”.

By the second half, Madonna focuses on her family and the price of fame, like the gorgeously arranged house song “Nothing Really Matters”, the acid house club hit “Sky Fits Heaven”, the jazzy “To Have and Not to Hold”, and the ambient sounds on “Little Star”. But Madonna gets serious and harrowing with the melodramatic delivery of “Frozen”, and soft and saddening with the electronic ballad “The Power of Goodbye”. She also channels an interesting, yet bizarre entry with the Bhangra-influenced electro track “Shanti / Ashtangi”. Thankfully, the album’s closer is the album’s only less interesting track; the tepid “Mer Girl”. Overall, Ray of Light is a perfect conception of a pop album; the vocals, the image, the sound, the production, and most of all, the influence.

Track list (Bold means best tracks)

  1. Drowned World / Substitute of Love
  2. Swim
  3. Ray of Light
  4. Candy Perfume Girl
  5. Skin
  6. Nothing Really Matters ~Liam’s favorite~
  7. Sky Fits Heaven
  8. Shanti / Ashtangi
  9. Frozen
  10. The Power of Goodbye
  11. To Have and Not To Hold
  12. Little Star
  13. Mer Girl

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