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> 'Ray of Light' ē album discussion, 7th album | 1998
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HausofGhibli
post Jun 15 2020, 05:16 PM
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A place to discuss Madonna's 7th studio album 'Ray of Light'. Released in 1998.

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

What are your thoughts on this album? Share any opinions, memories, favourite songs, or just discuss it anytime you're re-listening!
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HausofGhibli
post Jun 15 2020, 05:16 PM
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LJ JORD 7
post Jun 15 2020, 05:46 PM
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My favourite Madonna album!!

It has everything for me! I first heard this album in 2012 I think it was thatís when I fully went and delved right into her career. I didnít know what to expect from this album prior to hearing it but instantly I was blown away! It was her vocals more than anything what took me by surprise I thought wow she can genuinely really sing! Evita and Motherhood changed her voice for the better with this era but it was everything I loved regarding this era like the production is flawless, itís lyrically super strong too and itís so different to anything sheíd done both before this era and after this era too.

Visually as well itís captivating and just so unique. This is like one of those albums whatís really stood the test of time. Itís the one album by her as well what I try and get people to listen too who are doubtful of her talent.

I love this album though. Itís in my top 5 of all time. But she was just so in the zone on this era and she got everything spot on! An iconic era heart.gif

I wish I could go back in time and hear this again for the first time or even better be transported to 1998 (but not be 3 as I was then be like my age now) and see and experience the era as it played out. Iíd also say this album still kinda sounds current itís timeless. I just canít find enough positives regarding this era.
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Jonjo
post Jun 15 2020, 06:45 PM
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This is gonna be an interesting listen for me. Mainly because my thoughts on the title track are pretty public and well documented... </3

But on the other hand... it holds 'Frozen', i.e. her 2nd best ever song soooooo...

Exciting.
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Liam.k.
post Jun 15 2020, 06:49 PM
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You don't like the title track? ohmy.gif cry.gif I'd say the album was more Frozen than Ray of Light, I think there will definitely be some songs you'll really like!
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HausofGhibli
post Jun 15 2020, 07:15 PM
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QUOTE(Liam.k. @ Jun 15 2020, 07:49 PM) *
You don't like the title track? ohmy.gif cry.gif I'd say the album was more Frozen than Ray of Light, I think there will definitely be some songs you'll really like!

Jonjo is the resident hate-RoL advocate sad.gif

But yes, the album is definitely more Frozen than the title track so i'm really excited for you to hear it!
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HausofGhibli
post Jun 15 2020, 07:18 PM
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This is my second favourite album from Madonna (and high up in my ALL-TIME list of all albums i've ever heard). It is beaten by Confessions on a Dancefloor, which, while objectively maybe not as strong as this, is the album I return to most.

Like that album, this just has the aesthetics, the vibe, the visuals, the production, the vocals and lyrics - everything spot on. It is a true experience with every listen and I still find myself discovering small production moments or hidden lyrics that sneak up on me and gain new meaning. It's a perfect album and of the best ever! She came off the back of claims that she was dwindling and losing her touch, with this? That's how you silence the critics.
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slowdown73
post Jun 15 2020, 10:38 PM
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Amazing album and very much ahead of its time when it was released. Up there as being one of her best albums!
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Tawdry Hepburn
post Jun 15 2020, 10:52 PM
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QUOTE(Jonjo @ Jun 15 2020, 07:45 PM) *
This is gonna be an interesting listen for me. Mainly because my thoughts on the title track are pretty public and well documented... </3

But on the other hand... it holds 'Frozen', i.e. her 2nd best ever song soooooo...

Exciting.


There's literally nothing else on the album that remotely sounds like the title track, if that helps.
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LJ JORD 7
post Jun 15 2020, 11:11 PM
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Jonjo pls do an album ranking or review when you hear the album.

The title track is the odd one out on this album.

I think you could have to perhaps have a few listens to it but if it hits you itíll do so in a big way! The best way to hear this album is to play it in order through headphones when youíre wanting to get yourself in a switch off kinda mood.

Itís honestly a brilliant album though. Iíd love to hear the thoughts of someone listening to it from scratch though!
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Jonjo
post Jun 16 2020, 12:21 AM
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I will be! It's up next in my Madonna listen through! So I shall be listening to that probably tomorrow! biggrin.gif

I appreciate ROL overall aesthetic and feel. It just was never to my taste in it's sound and I think she sounds so whiny on it, so it's never really appealed to me.

Hopefully it's one of those songs that sounds better in the context of the album than it does on it's own for me. We'll see!
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LJ JORD 7
post Jun 16 2020, 12:41 AM
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QUOTE(Jonjo @ Jun 16 2020, 01:21 AM) *
I will be! It's up next in my Madonna listen through! So I shall be listening to that probably tomorrow! biggrin.gif

I appreciate ROL overall aesthetic and feel. It just was never to my taste in it's sound and I think she sounds so whiny on it, so it's never really appealed to me.

Hopefully it's one of those songs that sounds better in the context of the album than it does on it's own for me. We'll see!


To be fair I do think it sounds better in context of the album. it is definitely not representative of the albums sound much at all. Iíd say that and Nothing Really Matters are the least representative of the album although they do balance the album out so that itís not a case of it being too same-like.

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LJ JORD 7
post Jun 16 2020, 12:44 AM
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Also! Haus you may be able to confirm this for me but this was originally set to be called Mantra wasnít it?

She said regarding this album it had to be a 13 track album but she was struggling with the title for a while.

The opening track Drowned World... was the first song recorded too. I always love hearing little facts like this. I often try and guess when I hear an album tbh on what I think was recorded first as itís usually the most representative track of that era.
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Jonjo
post Jun 16 2020, 11:56 PM
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As I have said before, this is going to be an interesting listen as I'm really not a fan of the title track. I haven't heard 'Drowned World / Substitute for Love' before but that's lovely! A beautiful opener. I can't remember 'Nothing Really Matters', but I HAVE heard it (at least I recognise the video screen grab). 'Frozen' is so sublime! 2nd fave Madonna song and one of the very best songs of all time! 'The Power Of Goodbye' is really nice too. I'm hoping ROL is better in context of the album... so we'll see on that.

OK, so ROL works in the album, but I'm still not a fan of the track. Her voice grates on me as it's really shrill and just... VOM. I do appreciate what it achieved though and the production is interesting enough to keep you invested. I just don't think the track is ever going to be to my tastes. Sonically though this album is exactly as I expected. A cohesive and beautifully produced album, so far. William Orbit is such a fantastic producer! 'Skin' has really interested me, in particular. Getting to 'Nothing Really Matters' but I don't remember hearing this before, oops. But it's beautiful!

'Sky Fits Heaven' cheeseblock.png I've taken to that one right away! I love subtle, trance/dance bops! Gorgeous!

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

It feels like this album is going to be one I return to and listen to in full every time. The last 3 tracks all feel a bit fillery, but still lovely tracks in their own rights, They're not bad or awful, just more "forgettable" than all the other tracks. The only track I'll take away on it's own and get enjoyment out of it as it's own song, is 'Frozen'. I don't mean any of that negatively btw, I LOVE album, albums. It makes it worth listening to the whole project as it was made and intended. The production really is stellar and for the most part, it's used Madonna's vocals to great effect! So I don't "hate" ROL (song) magic.gif

It's really hard to rank each track individually on albums like this, because I feel like it all serves a purpose being in the postitions that they are! Swim seems particularly low, but I don't know where to rank it if I was to place it higher laugh.gif It's all... *swoon*

Very impressed with this album. One I'll go back to more regularly, I think! wub.gif

Album Rankings:
01. Ray Of Light
02. True Blue
03. Erotica
04. Like A Prayer
05. Madonna
06. Like A Virgin
07. Bedtime Stories
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LJ JORD 7
post Jun 17 2020, 12:56 AM
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Iím happy to see this at #1 in your Madonna rankings (well #1 from albums released up to this point)

A lot of what you say I very much get. Like I feel like this is so much like an album that Iíd not often cherry pick certain tracks to listen to on their own. I do listen to the entire album in full around once a month or so.

Iíd love to see how your rankings of the tracks change as well. For me I was like you at first with the later half of the album being my bottom 3 thatís not so much the case now though. Little Star especially has very much grown on me and Mer Girl when you hear closely is really Bjork like in many ways and so un Madonna sounding but lyrically itís brilliant.

Weirdly I was also like you in that the first time I heard this album in full id never heard the opening track before! Despite it being a single Iíd heard all the other singles bar that but it does hit you right away. The final line of ďand now I find Iíve changed my mind.... this is my religionĒ just does something to me!

To be fair despite me not thinking this the critique for the title track I can see. Itís a manic, full of adrenaline, in your face kinda song and sheís using her voice and vocals on that in a way she never has before either. I do think the title track with the GP could verge on being marmite!

My ranking of this album would probably be

1. Frozen
2. Sky Fits Heaven
3. Nothing Really Matters
4. Skin
5. Drowned World / Substitute For Love
6. The Power Of Goodbye
7. Little Star
8. Ray Of Light
9. Swim
10. To Have And Not To Hold
11. Mer Girl
12. Candy Perfume Girl
13. Shanti / Ashtangi
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HausofGhibli
post Jun 17 2020, 08:28 PM
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Omg Jonjo and Jordan the Sky Fits Heaven stans emerge! It's truly one of her greatest album tracks wub.gif

Great to read your review Jon! The masterpiece still getting new fans even to this day - it's timeless *.* Little Star is an odd one but it does always capture me when I listen to the album as a whole.

It's such a sublime album, everything flows expertly and there is so much depth in the lyrics and production. Pure LOVE wub.gif
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Cremey
post Jun 22 2020, 04:20 PM
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Such an incredible album. Like I said in the Music thread, I've only started listening to her albums in full over the last couple of years, but this is head and shoulders above the rest for me.
I can see why it received such critical acclaim at the time and why it's so many people's favourite Madonna album.

That one-two hit of Frozen and The Power of Goodbye is just unbeatable, my two favourite Madonna songs back to back wub.gif
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Liam.k.
post Jun 25 2020, 01:45 PM
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QUOTE(HausofGhibli @ Jun 15 2020, 08:18 PM) *
This is my second favourite album from Madonna (and high up in my ALL-TIME list of all albums i've ever heard). It is beaten by Confessions on a Dancefloor, which, while objectively maybe not as strong as this, is the album I return to most.

Like that album, this just has the aesthetics, the vibe, the visuals, the production, the vocals and lyrics - everything spot on. It is a true experience with every listen and I still find myself discovering small production moments or hidden lyrics that sneak up on me and gain new meaning. It's a perfect album and of the best ever! She came off the back of claims that she was dwindling and losing her touch, with this? That's how you silence the critics.

This is my main takeaway from the album. Orbit is an incredible producer, so many layers and intricate details which makes each listen fresh and exciting. I'm with you that this is probably objectively her best album, 'Confessions' just beats it in terms of personal taste but 'Ray of Light' does rate pretty close!

It's great to see such unanimous affection in here and I'm enjoying reading about how the songs affect everyone, whether that be a part of its production or a certain lyric. I can remember buying this a good 10 years ago and I was mesmerised by the production. 'Skin' was the one that stood out most, I didn't really have any idea what it was about but I found myself lost in the production - it's so trippy and there's lots of emotions rushing at you; it can be aggressive, eerie, melancholy, anxious. I've never known anything like it.

Every song brings something special to the album so it's hard to limit myself in mentioning highlights. 'Little Star' and 'Mer Girl' are the ones I return to the least but I can't deny their importance.
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Liam.k.
post Jun 25 2020, 01:48 PM
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QUOTE(Jordan Lee @ Jun 16 2020, 01:44 AM) *
Also! Haus you may be able to confirm this for me but this was originally set to be called Mantra wasnít it?

You're right, the album was originally titled 'Mantra' but was changed because Madonna's albums were usually titled after one of the songs from the album. Other titles in consideration were 'Drowned World', 'Heartbreaking', and 'Electronica' (a remix album had been planned with the name 'Veronica Electronica' too).

I've just been reading up on some of the backstory from this era. Apparently 'Children' by Robert Miles is one of the songs that inspired Madonna to experiment with trance music. They were meant to work together but there were scheduling conflicts. The song 'Enjoy' from Robert Miles' '23am' album was written with Madonna in mind for the vocals:



A couple of outtakes I'd like to share:





Both were written with Rick Nowels so they date quite early on in the album sessions (pre-Orbit). 'Like a Flower' is beautiful, I can see why it was left off the album but it could have made a great B-side, and 'Gone, Gone, Gone' is more in line with the album's sound, although you can still tell it's not Orbit-produced.

There are some even earlier demos out there too, from when Madonna was working with Babyface again following 'Bedtime Stories'. They sound so out of place compared to what we know 'Ray of Light' to be!
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LJ JORD 7
post Jun 25 2020, 04:23 PM
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Those were some finds there Liam! That Robert Miles one was a good one wub.gif Iíd heard Like A Flower before and liked it too.

Whatever inspired this album Iím so grateful for it. She was just so focused and so energised during this campaign and its so bold and out there to anything sheís done before. This kinda come at a time too when she started getting high critical praise and acclaim as Elle as huge sales. I might just be basing on that this was her first studio album to win multiple GRAMMYs laugh.gif

Edit: that should say as well as but itís already been quoted with my typo laugh.gif
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