1998, Music

Ray of Light (1998) by Madonna

This may or may not be the first Madonna album I’ve ever listened to – not 100% sure – but it is definitely the first one I’ve given my three requisite listens to. Given that fact, it should be no surprise that I can’t fully grasp what a drastic left-turn this record probably was for long-term fans. I can only go by the little I know of Madonna’s singles and say that ‘Yes, it does seem like a left-turn’ from my impression of Madonna from what I knew of her omnipresent hits prior to this record. (How long it took between the last proper LP and this one also indicates to me that there was a lot happening in her life that might have helped cause this.)

Though I can only guess as to the audacity of the left turn, I can say that I like this a lot more than I thought I would – most of these songs are pretty damn catchy but have enough of a trip-hop or otherwise electronic vibe that they sound more interesting (and more varied) than I was expecting from the two singles I know already.

And it’s nice to hear what I assume is relative risk taking, even if it doesn’t always work out. (“Shanti / Ashtangi ” feels much more like an American pop star’s idea of Indian pop music than the genuine article, for example.) Though I know it’s not, most of the music feels organic to Madonna, rather than something she’s just dabbling in because it’s trendy.

Honestly very surprised at how listenable and well-paced it is.

7/10

  1. “Drowned World/Substitute for Love” by Madonna, William Orbit, Rod McKuen, Anita Kerr, David Collins; 5:09
  2. “Swim” by Madonna, Orbit; 5:00
  3. “Ray of Light” by Madonna, Orbit, Clive Muldoon, Dave Curtiss, Christine Leach; 5:21
  4. “Candy Perfume Girl” by Madonna, Orbit, Susannah Melvoin; 4:34
  5. “Skin” by Madonna, Patrick Leonard; 6:22
  6. “Nothing Really Matters” by Madonna, Leonard; 4:27
  7. “Sky Fits Heaven”by Madonna, Leonard; 4:48
  8. “Shanti/Ashtangi” by Madonna, Orbit; 4:29
  9. “Frozen” by Madonna, Leonard; 6:12
  10. “The Power of Good-Bye” by Madonna, Rick Nowels; 4:10
  11. “To Have and Not to Hold” by Madonna, Nowels; 5:23
  12. “Little Star” by Madonna, Nowels; 5:18
  13. “Mer Girl”by Madonna Orbit; 5:32
  • Madonna – vocals (2-5, 7-13, lead on 1, 6)
  • Craig Armstrong – string arrangements (9-10)
  • Mike Bradford – programming
  • Pablo Cook – flute (2)
  • Fergus Gerrand – drums (1-2), percussion (13)
  • Niki Haris – background vocals (6)
  • Suzie Katayama – conductor
  • Patrick Leonard – additional music arranger (9)
  • Donna De Lory – background vocals (6)
  • Marc Moreau – guitar (5)
  • William Orbit – sound effects
  • Steve Sidelnyk – additional drum machine (6, 12)
  • Marius de Vries – keyboards (9), music programming (9)

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