Ray of light-1998

Madonna’s seventh studio album was released three years and a half after her last one, “Bedtime Stories”, so the anticipation was very high, especially after making Evita and giving birth to her first child. Even though it wasn’t such a huge gap of absense, the wait felt like forever, as there was already a feeling in the industry that Madonna’s best material had already been recorded and she was past her prime. No need to worry, her comeback to music was big, loud, classy and most of all, fresh. 16 years into her recording career and she was delivering the best album of her career, as least that’s what the majority of her critics thought.

Ray of light was a marriage made in heaven, not only it was praised as a masterpiece and an essential album of the nineties, it was also a huge commercial success, certified 4xPlatinum in the USA and selling a reported 16 million worldwide, making it her best selling studio album of the 90’s. It made its debut on Billboard at #2 with first week sales of 370,000, her best opening to date, but on the other side, her third consecutive studio album that failed to achieve the number one spot, however it became her 6th #1 in the UK.

Although it’s a pop album, it incorporates elements found in electronic music like techno, ambient, trip hop and a good deal of electric and acoustic guitars, with the right mixture of up tempo tracks with intimate ballads. Madonna found the right balance in working with such different musicians and producers like William Orbit, Rick Nowles and her long time collaborator, Patrick Leonard, with Orbit taking most of the co-producing duties.

Frozen, the first single from the album, a song penned by Madonna and Leonard, could well be her most adventurous and mature first single choice to date. The haunting video shot in the Mojave desert, features her in a complete new persona, with long black hair and in full Gothic attire, shaping into different animals, very far from the usually blond and sexy Madonna. A wise choice, as this single catapulted her to the top of the charts and gave a new dimension to her work. It was the song that introduced a whole new generation to Madonna´s music.

 Madonna also took all of 1998 and part of 1999 to do heavy promotion for the album, which translated into strong sales and consequent successful singles, culminating with the 1999 Grammy Awards where she took home 4 awards, including Best Pop Album. In time, Ray of light has proven to be one of Madonna’s signature albums, and the one responsible for bringing electronic music into the mainstream. It’s also regarded as one of those quintessential albums that everyone should have at their home. Do you already own Ray of Light? If not, what are you waiting for?

Worldwide positions & Sales

Australia: #1 (3xPlatinum)
Austria: #2 (2xPlatinum)
Belgium (Flanders): #1
Belgium (Wallonia): #2
Canada: #1 (7xPlatinum)
Denmark: #2 (5xPlatinum)
European Top 100 Albums: #1 (7xPlatinum)
Finland: #1 (Platinum)
France: #2 (3xPlatinum)

Germany: #1 (3xPlatinum)
Hungary: #1
Ireland: #2
Italy: #1

Japan: #7
Netherlands: #1 (3xPlatinum)
New Zealand: #1 (Platinum)
Norway: #1 (2xPlatinum)
Portugal: #6
Spain: #1 (3xPlatinum)

Sweden: #2
Switzerland: #1 (3xPlatinum)
UK: #1 (6xPlatinum/1,700,000 copies)
USA: #2 (4xPlatinum/4,000,000 copies)

Producers: Madonna/William Orbit/Patrick Leonard/Marius De Vries

1. DROWNED WORLD/SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE (Madonna/William Orbit/Rod Mc Kuen/Anita Kerr/David Collins)
2. SWIM (Madonna/William Orbit)
3. RAY OF LIGHT (Madonna/William Orbit/Clive Maldoon/Dave Curtis/Christine Ann Leach)
4. CANDY PERFUME GIRL (Madonna/William Orbit/Susannah Melvoin)
5. SKIN (Madonna/Patrick Leonard)
6. NOTHING REALLY MATTERS (Madonna/Patrick Leonard)
7. SKY FITS HEAVEN (Madonna/Patrick Leonard)
8. SHANTI/ASHTANGI (Madonna/William Orbit)
9. FROZEN (Madonna/Patrick Leonard)
10. THE POWER OF GOODBYE (Madonna/Rick Nowels)
11. TO HAVE AND NOT TO HOLD (Madonna/Rick Nowels)
12. LITTLE STAR (Madonna/Rick Nowels)
13. MER GIRL  (Madonna/William Orbit)
14. HAS TO BE (Madonna/William Orbit/Patrick Leonard)*
*Japan Bonus Track


Release date: March 3, 1998
Debut date: March 21, 1998
Debut position: #2
Peak position: #2 (2 weeks)
Final week on chart: October 2, 1999
Number of weeks on Billboard 200: 78 weeks
Soundscan Debut: 370,683
Soundscan sales: 3,837,000 (08/14/2009)
Certified 4xPlatinum by the RIAA

BILLBOARD 200 (03/21/1998):
#1 “Titanic” SOUNDTRACK

#2 “Ray of light” MADONNA 
#3 ”Let’s talk about love” CELINE DION 
#4 “My homies” SCARFACE
#5 ”Savage garden” SAVAGE GARDEN
#6 “Charge it 2 Da Game” SILKK THE SHOCKER
#7 “Love always” K-CI
#8 ”Backstreet boys” BACKSTREET BOYS
#9 ”The wedding singer” SOUNDTRACK

#10 “My way” USHER

Chart run in 1998: 2-2-5-4-4-9-8-13-14-18-23-24-16-14-17-20-22-25-28-35-41-46-55-56-31-31-42-36-32-38-40-50-41-43-39-47-50-61-70-69-67- (41 weeks)
Chart run in 1999: 65-65-69-53-70-65-66-64-68-60-37-49-58-71-83-92-98-100-103-115-125-132-135-133-142-153-155-160-171-178-187-186-off-off-off-194-195-200-184-196-off (37 weeks/78 weeks total)


Debut date: March 14, 1998
Debut position: #1
Peak position: #1 (2 weeks)
Final week on chart: February 9, 2002
Number of weeks in the Official UK Albums Chart: 116 weeks
Sales: 1,700,000 (10/2006)
Certified 6xPlatinum

OFFICIAL UK ALBUMS TOP 100 (03/14/1998):
#1 “Ray of light” MADONNA

#2 ”Titanic” SOUNDTRACK
#3 ”Let’s talk about love” CELINE DION
#4 “Urban Hymns” VERVE
#5 “Life thru a lens” ROBBIE WILLIAMS
#6 “Maverick a strike” FINLEY QUAYE
#7 “Melting pot” CHARLATANS
#8 “All saints” ALL SAINTS
#9 “Left of the middle” NATALIE IMBRUGLIA

#10 “Aquarium” AQUA

Chart run in 1998: 1-1-3-5-6-5-7-9-4-4-4-4-8-11-11-13-13-11-14-19-18-19-18-16- 10-11-15-13-14-21-11-36-42-52-56-57-54-36-34-33-26-15- (42 weeks)
Chart run in 1999: 12- 8-7-7-7-9-9-12-15-11-12-17-11-13-15-16-24-27-18-20-26-31-30-30-26-23-24-22-21-18-18-19-21-22-24-26-30-39-42-61-72-off-75-off-75-67-off (44 weeks/86 weeks total)
Chart run in 2000: 39-23-25-45-63-68-62-69-62-53-59-off-off-off-75-70-58-40-51-58-59-70-off (19 weeks/105 weeks total)
Chart run in 2001: 70-67-off-off-62-38-63-off (5 weeks/111 weeks total)
Chart run in 2002: 38-30-35-41-47-60-off (6 weeks/116 weeks total)

  1. #1 by vinnieh on September 11, 2012 - 2:01 pm

    Great post, I love this album so much.

    • #2 by Mr. DJ on September 27, 2012 - 7:35 am

      Thank you so much! I love it too 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Learn more about each Madonna album, single, release dates, peaks and chart runs

%d bloggers like this: