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Released: March 3, 1998

Rating: 4.105 (average of 14 ratings)

Genre: rock > dance pop/ electronica

Quotable: “the first mainstream pop album that successfully embraces techno” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Album Tracks:

  1. Drowned World/ Substitute for Love
  2. Swim
  3. Ray of Light
  4. Candy Perfume Girl
  5. Skin
  6. Nothing Really Matters
  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

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 4.0
sales in U.K. only - estimated 1.68
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. 7.0
sales worldwide - estimated 17.0


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 2
peak on U.K. album chart 1 2

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Frozen (2/28/98) #2 US, #1 UK, #8 AC. Gold single.
  • Ray of Light (5/16/98) #5 US, #2 UK. Gold single.
  • Drowned World / Substitute for Love (9/5/98) #10 UK
  • The Power of Goodbye (10/17/98) #11 US, #6 UK, #14 AC
  • Nothing Really Matters (3/13/99) #93 US, #7 UK


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. Q Magazine’s Top 100 Albums

Ray of Light
“Returning to pop after a four-year hiatus, Madonna enlisted respected techno producer William Orbit as her collaborator for Ray of Light, a self-conscious effort to stay abreast of contemporary trends. Unlike other veteran artists who attempted to come to terms with electronica, Madonna was always a dance artist, so it's no real shock to hear her sing over breakbeats, pulsating electronics, and blunted trip-hop beats.” STE

“Still, it’s mildly surprising that it works as well as it does, largely due to Madonna and Orbit’s subtle attack. They’ve reigned in the beats, tamed electronica’s eccentricities, and retained her flair for pop melodies, creating the first mainstream pop album that successfully embraces techno.” STE

“Sonically, it’s the most adventurous record she has made, but it’s far from inaccessible, since the textures are alluring and the songs have a strong melodic foundation, whether it’s the swirling title track, the meditative opener, Substitute for Love, or the ballad Frozen.” STE

“For all of its attributes, there’s a certain distance to Ray of Light, born of the carefully constructed productions and Madonna’s newly mannered, technically precise singing. It all results in her most mature and restrained album, which is an easy achievement to admire, yet not necessarily an easy one to love.” STE

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Links:

Previous Album: Evita (ST: 1996) Madonna’s DMDB page Next Album: Music (2000)

Last updated November 15, 2010.