Chosen by Sol
INTRO (from Wiki)
Ray of Light is the seventh studio album by American recording artist Madonna, released on February 22, 1998 by Maverick Records. After giving birth to her first child, Madonna started working on the album with producers Babyface and Patrick Leonard. Following failed sessions with them, Madonna pursued a new musical direction with English producer William Orbit. The recording process was the longest of Madonna’s career and experienced problems with Orbit’s hardware arrangement, which would break down, and recording would have to be delayed until they could be repaired.
A departure from her previous work, Ray of Light is an electronica and dance album which incorporates multiple genres, including ambient, trip hop, and Middle Eastern music. Vocally, the album saw Madonna sing with greater breadth and a fuller tone. Mystical themes are also strongly present in both the music and lyrics, as a result of Madonna embracing Kabbalah, her study of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as her daily practice of Ashtanga Yoga.
The album received universal acclaim, with reviews commending the singer’s new musical direction. Called her “most adventurous” record, Ray of Light has been noted for its introspective, spiritual nature, with Madonna’s vocals also being praised. Ray of Light won four Grammy Awards from a total of six nominations. Commercially, the album peaked at number one in several countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, with the biggest first-week sales by a female artist at the time, and has sold over 16 million copies worldwide.
Five singles were released from the album, including the international hits “Frozen” and “Ray of Light”. The album’s promotion was later supported by the Drowned World Tour in 2001. Music critics have noted the album’s influence on popular music, and how it introduced electronica into mainstream pop culture in America. They also noted Madonna’s musical re-invention which helped her remain contemporary among the teen-marketed artists of the period. Ray of Light is frequently cited by critics as one of the greatest pop albums of all time.
Ice – “Thanks for putting this forward buddy, I didn’t see it coming! Of course I know Madonna… who doesn’t? But only heard her big hits so was looking forward to listening to this.
From the start of Drowned World / Substitute for Love I remember how beautiful her voice is, a superbly sang song with soft music in the background – the first half could put you to sleep!
Swim was funky but didn’t woo me. I remember Ray of Light being a massive hit and the video being really cool and yes I would! Candy Perfume Girl was a let down after the previous > next!
I like the background music on Skin and I smiled when the drum and hi-hat kicked in, which was followed by a cool euphoric chorus. It shows how she adapted to the music of the time to stay trendy! I thought that Nothing Really Matters would have went higher like the previous song, it just seems to stay at the same level.
I love the background on Sky Fits Heaven, which got the head nodding, and the light piano was a nice compliment before reverting back the electronica, cool tune! I know she is into Kabbalah but she should know Shanti / Ashtangi is not for her base nor suiting the album… boo! I like Frozen – cool tune (excuse the pun), simple but effective lyrics also! I find myself enjoying each song Madonna has some electronica on and The Power of Good-Bye is no exception, light euphoric notes with super lyrics, great tune, well compiled!
To Have and Not to Hold was easy listening, chorus can linger in your mind, not bad but not great. Little Star and Mer Girl can get out and walk!
Madonna: The queen of pop who remodelled her image and music to succeed decade to decade, sensational! However, even though there was some super hits on the album I would have preferred it minus 3! I enjoy the vast majority of the album especially the upbeat tunes. Super selection Sol, you’re keeping us on our toes!”
Mick – “This threw me a massive curve ball to say the least and I already hated it before I listened to it in my head, but in the end I was quietly surprised by how much I enjoyed it (or was it how much I enjoyed William Orbit with Madonna singing?).
That being said Substitute for Love is a beautiful song, always liked that when I heard it, she does have a lovely tone to her voice without being a big female vocalist for me. Ray of Light I liked musically but the song always annoyed me for some reason and still does. Can’t put my finger on it, maybe it’s just shit. Skin is a great tune for me again but it’s as much musically than vocally. They defo work well together mixing electro/pop vocals as opposed to some of the recent albums we listened to that tried the same. Again Nothing Really Matters is right up my alley and I remember liking it at the time too. Sky Fits Heaven just shouldn’t be a Madonna song at all, that’s 95% William Orbit and 5% Madonna. This album is more like a collaboration than hers. I do like this song, one of my favs I have to say. Shanti / Ashtangi has no place on any record ever, die die die song, woeful.
Now my favourite Madonna song is, by a country mile, Frozen. I loved this from the first time I heard it years ago, this is a worldie for me and defo one I never tire of hearing or ever will. Haunting vocals perfectly accompanied by music to suit the mood and tone. Love it. Worth the album listen just to hear that.
Strangely enough my favourite song on the album is The Power of Good-Bye. Again loved it from the first time I heard it, this seems like a song that has Madonna in control of it 95% her this time, as it should be on ‘her album’. Lovely lyrics and accompaniments throughout. Very simple but beautiful.
I’m an absolute ‘like’ for this Sol and I genuinely thought I’d hate it. Had no problem to listen to it a few times during the week and will defo be taking a few songs onto some playlists.”
Spud – “Slow start to the album, not that the opener’s a bad song but it feels more like the last track on an album. However, the tempo picks up a bit on Swim and it’s as if the first two songs are actually building to Ray of Light, which works well. Her voice on Swim is really nice and the song itself has a Morcheeba – The Sea feel off it, or All Saints – Pure Shores (which I also heard in The Power of Good-Bye).
Some of the electro stuff is a bit much for me, even on Ray of Light but especially the techno bass beats throughout Skin and Sky Fits Heaven. It’s probably not even that heavy but I didn’t like it.
I actually thought Shanti / Ashtangi was alright – the drumbeat and Hindu-inspired music keeps your head nodding like a South Indian salesman!
Frozen is probably the most familiar song on the album. Like Swim, her voice/lyrics take more of a lead role here instead of the music, unlike in the electro-pop dancefloor bangers. These two are easily my favourite tracks and, aside from learning that I’m a closet All Saints fan, I now also know that I really enjoy listening to Madonna humming, mmmmm.
I got kinda bored towards the end of the album and generally felt like most of the songs could have been shorter. I didn’t hate the album, but there’s not enough for me to like either.”
Molly – “This album reminds me of the music programme on RTÉ2 on a Sunday morning. Waking up after a night in town and for some reason Madonna’s Frozen was always on it. I think I have an inherent dislike for her because of this.
Overall I am not a fan of Madonna. I can appreciate her 80’s stuff plus she was a lot better to look at then. For me the best tune on the album is The Power of Good-Bye. But as a whole it’s not my favourite from aul Madge.”
Pynser – “Sol, fair play to you… I think picking the Madonna album is a very brave way of coming out as gay! Ah no, bit like Mick, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Agree with him about the Ray of Light song though. Never really liked that. Hated the video too, her sticking her 50 year old fanny in your face for 3 or 4 mins!
I liked the opener, although it was a bit slow. Thought Swim was good and liked Nothing Really Matters. Frozen is the best song on there by a good bit. The Power of Good-Bye is decent too.
Probably just enough on there for me to like it. It’s not a cracking album but it’s okay enough. She was definitely getting away from her 80’s sound as much as she could.”
★ Agree/disagree? Let us know in the comments below ★
SONGS ADDED TO THE MUSIC NIGHTS SPOTIFY PLAYLIST:
Two Dancers by Wild Beasts
Listen along with us for the week and check out our reviews next Sunday!