Ray of Light is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter 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 record 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. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, with the biggest first-week sales by a female artist at the time. It also peaked at number one in many countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, 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.
Label: Maverick, Warner Bros. Records
Format: LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo