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REVIEWED: Madonna - Ray Of Light


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Old 08-07-2013, 15:58
lovelife7292
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Hello. Thank you for joining in with all these polls, I have been interested to see what people's music tastes are and enjoying listening to albums that i've always wanted to listen to but never got round to doing. Today is the turn of living legend Madonna's seventh album Ray Of Light. Enjoy

After being around for ages and having her greatest hits Celebration, I was surprised to see I only had 2 (!) of her studio albums - Music and American Life. Neither of them really excited me and I only liked the released singles, and already hearing of Ray Of Light's commercial and critical acclaim, I really wanted to listen to it. And, wow, am I glad I did.

By far the best album I've listened to since creating these polls for albums I should listen to, I never realised or believed Madonna had or could create such a classic pop record. The single [b]Ray of Light/B] is my all time favourite Madonna single (closely followed by Frozen and Music). It's near impossible to say how much I love it and its euphoricness (if that's even a word). And, unlike the aforementioned Madonna albums where the singles stood well out from the pack, Ray Of Light has a number of great songs that blend with each other and don't sound out of place to current music. I still can't believe this was released in the late 90's and I missed it first time round.

Anyway, time for a review. Swim and Candy Perfume Girl are both great pop tracks with catchy choruses, showing a creative and fun side to Madonna's vocals and songwriting, as well as at the same time showing a vulnerability that has maybe been produced over for Madonna's latest album releases (Hard Candy and MDNA). Drowned World/Substitute For Love is a chilling album opener that gives an immediate indication as to what to expect from the album, testing Madonna's vocals to the limit as I never realised how great a vocalist Madge is.

As already mentioned, Ray Of Light and Frozen are two of my favourite Madonna singles and both do stand out on the record still; the eeriness of Frozen, especially with the accompanying music video, always gives me goosebumps. Nothing Really Matters and Sky Fits Heaven are two of the more up-tempo numbers that are great for a summer soundtrack, while The Power of Goodbye is another solid ballad that supports the view Madonna's vocals are more accomplished here than ever before.

I think it's clear this album served as an inspiration for many artists these days; Skin, for example, reminds me a lot of Loreen's Euphoria (that might just be me) and To Have and Not to Hold wouldn't look out of place on a Florence and the Machine album. All in all, I think its fair to say good old Madge created a classic with Ray of Light, and it amazes me how she hasn't really been album to top it, but at least she'll always have the knowledge she created it. Love it.

TOP 3 TRACKS = Ray of Light, Nothing Really Matters, Frozen

DUD = Mer Girl

RELATED ARTISTS = Kate Bush, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga

OVERALL RATING = 9/10

Thanks for reading
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Old 08-07-2013, 16:10
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Ray Of Light is just a masterpiece.

No one saw it coming at all which is what makes it even more special and perhaps, aside from it being a superb album, is what helped its success.
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Old 08-07-2013, 16:14
RetroMusicFan
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Hello. Thank you for joining in with all these polls, I have been interested to see what people's music tastes are and enjoying listening to albums that i've always wanted to listen to but never got round to doing. Today is the turn of living legend Madonna's seventh album Ray Of Light. Enjoy

After being around for ages and having her greatest hits Celebration, I was surprised to see I only had 2 (!) of her studio albums - Music and American Life. Neither of them really excited me and I only liked the released singles, and already hearing of Ray Of Light's commercial and critical acclaim, I really wanted to listen to it. And, wow, am I glad I did.

By far the best album I've listened to since creating these polls for albums I should listen to, I never realised or believed Madonna had or could create such a classic pop record. The single [b]Ray of Light/B] is my all time favourite Madonna single (closely followed by Frozen and Music). It's near impossible to say how much I love it and its euphoricness (if that's even a word). And, unlike the aforementioned Madonna albums where the singles stood well out from the pack, Ray Of Light has a number of great songs that blend with each other and don't sound out of place to current music. I still can't believe this was released in the late 90's and I missed it first time round.

Anyway, time for a review. Swim and Candy Perfume Girl are both great pop tracks with catchy choruses, showing a creative and fun side to Madonna's vocals and songwriting, as well as at the same time showing a vulnerability that has maybe been produced over for Madonna's latest album releases (Hard Candy and MDNA). Drowned World/Substitute For Love is a chilling album opener that gives an immediate indication as to what to expect from the album, testing Madonna's vocals to the limit as I never realised how great a vocalist Madge is.

As already mentioned, Ray Of Light and Frozen are two of my favourite Madonna singles and both do stand out on the record still; the eeriness of Frozen, especially with the accompanying music video, always gives me goosebumps. Nothing Really Matters and Sky Fits Heaven are two of the more up-tempo numbers that are great for a summer soundtrack, while The Power of Goodbye is another solid ballad that supports the view Madonna's vocals are more accomplished here than ever before.

I think it's clear this album served as an inspiration for many artists these days; Skin, for example, reminds me a lot of Loreen's Euphoria (that might just be me) and To Have and Not to Hold wouldn't look out of place on a Florence and the Machine album. All in all, I think its fair to say good old Madge created a classic with Ray of Light, and it amazes me how she hasn't really been album to top it, but at least she'll always have the knowledge she created it. Love it.

TOP 3 TRACKS = Ray of Light, Nothing Really Matters, Frozen

DUD = Mer Girl

RELATED ARTISTS = Kate Bush, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga

OVERALL RATING = 9/10

Thanks for reading
Great review!

Ray Of Light is her best album vocally imo, it was the album that put her back on top after the SEX book backlash and contains her first uk number one in 8 years - Frozen.

I really loved her 'earth mother' look she had for that album as well and the singles have great videos.

Top songs

Ray Of Light
The Power Of Goodbye
Candy Perfume Girl
Skin
Frozen
Drowned World
To Have And Not To Hold
Little Star

The sadness in her vocal on To Have And Not To Hold comes across really well and makes me want to hug her.

And Little Star is a fitting tribute to her daughter.

I enjoy the whole thing apart from Shanti/Ashtangi
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Old 08-07-2013, 16:30
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Shanti/Ashtangi is the only dud for me, Mer Girl is such a creepy track but also so beautiful.
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Old 08-07-2013, 16:45
cnbcwatcher
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Excellent review. I've only heard the singles from that album (IIRC the title track was used on the Windows XP commercial!) and after hearing how good it is I think I must give it a listen as well.
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Old 08-07-2013, 17:48
Hav_mor91
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I wouldn't say it could still fit in musically with today. It owes itself alot to the ambient late 90's chill out music and is a little dated i find. Other than that solid record great flow consistency and is probably her strongest body of work since Like A Prayer.
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Old 08-07-2013, 18:27
AdzPower
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This is actually one of the only Madonna albums I haven't heard, mainly because I just haven't gotten yet, not sure if it will top my fave Confessions, but I must listen to this soon.
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Old 08-07-2013, 18:43
Josh Pinder
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Beautiful album, great review

Like a Prayer is my favorite....but ROL is definitely in my top five (Erotica, Confessions and AL just ahead for me)....the ambience, Trip Hop, Electronica and Oriental vibes across the album with slight allusions to Psychedelia too and of course spiritualism and personal freedom...its a great concept to master and a powerful one at that Very few could ever manage to create such an album...and only one could pull it off and make it work...Madonna memories of the late 90s so powerful...so visceral and so innovative

Madonna/Leonard/Orbit united created a historical piece here (my fave team up is M/Leonard/Bray and i do love M/Mirwais/Stuart price too) ...timeless. To have and to hold
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Old 08-07-2013, 18:44
dearmrman
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I wouldn't say it could still fit in musically with today. It owes itself alot to the ambient late 90's chill out music and is a little dated i find. Other than that solid record great flow consistency and is probably her strongest body of work since Like A Prayer.
As above the album fitted the time, your review though sadly lacks any mention of William Orbit as the producer, who would have been one of the major contributors to the sound and style of this album.
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Old 08-07-2013, 18:44
O.Michel
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You think Mer Girl is a dud? It's the most unique song on the album!
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Old 08-07-2013, 18:55
Josh Pinder
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As above the album fitted the time, your review though sadly lacks any mention of William Orbit as the producer, who would have been one of the major contributors to the sound and style of this album.
Well Madonna worked with Pat Leonard in 1997 i believe on the songs she wanted for the album (which is a handful that made the cut and flow superbly) but apparently it was going in a very "peter gabriel" sounding direction which she didnt want for the album...and then she checked out Orbits Strange Cargo albums and got him on board to push her vision

giving a very spiritual/futuristic kinetic/space punk feel as well as that melancholic/rockish/raw vibe too married together so well. Orbit said she pushed his creativity to the max and on the first week of working together he was spilling cups of tea and tripping all over the place bless him
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Old 08-07-2013, 18:55
Josh Pinder
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You think Mer Girl is a dud? It's the most unique song on the album!
It is such a creepy and eerie song and i lvoe it for a finale....a song about being haunted and hunted at the same time...man oh man...
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Old 08-07-2013, 19:29
Dar W
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I always considered this album to kick start Madonna's recording career as the few years before this we had the lacklustre Bedtime Stories,a compilation of her ballads and the Evita period.None of which I consider classic Madonna but this put her back on top.She could do with another Ray Of Light as I don't think she's released anything worthwhile since Confessions a few years back
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Old 08-07-2013, 19:39
dearmrman
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I always considered this album to kick start Madonna's recording career as the few years before this we had the lacklustre Bedtime Stories,a compilation of her ballads and the Evita period.None of which I consider classic Madonna but this put her back on top.She could do with another Ray Of Light as I don't think she's released anything worthwhile since Confessions a few years back
Depends who she associates with, because unless she gets the right contribution then it simply doesn't work. And lets face it she ain't good enough to do it all by herself.
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Old 08-07-2013, 19:52
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Well Madonna worked with Pat Leonard in 1997 i believe on the songs she wanted for the album (which is a handful that made the cut and flow superbly) but apparently it was going in a very "peter gabriel" sounding direction which she didnt want for the album...and then she checked out Orbits Strange Cargo albums and got him on board to push her vision

giving a very spiritual/futuristic kinetic/space punk feel as well as that melancholic/rockish/raw vibe too married together so well. Orbit said she pushed his creativity to the max and on the first week of working together he was spilling cups of tea and tripping all over the place bless him
Explain the Peter Gabriel comment, is this a good or bad thing?

PG and M, now there's a combination, I think Peter is cool!
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Old 08-07-2013, 20:14
BadKid95
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I was looking forward to reading your review OP and I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much, it is one of my favourite albums of all time.

Regardless of it being released in the late 90s I still find it very fresh especially songs such as Swim, Sky Fits Heaven and Skin. It is my ultimate summer album and will be giving it a few listens in the hot weather this week. Though of course, as mentioned it does have its more chilling moments such as Frozen and Power of Goodbye, but they work perfectly
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Old 08-07-2013, 22:45
Josh Pinder
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Explain the Peter Gabriel comment, is this a good or bad thing?

PG and M, now there's a combination, I think Peter is cool!
Well i presume she meant it was very "Rockish" in nature a la Peter gabriels style...whereas that wasnt the direction she wanted to take....which is why Orbit went in the direction she wanted to take the material....Leonard thankfully was still a aprt of the project

And yeah i love Peter too...the Sledgehammer video is ART personified and the song <3 amazing! and i love genesis too
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Old 08-07-2013, 22:49
Josh Pinder
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I was looking forward to reading your review OP and I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much, it is one of my favourite albums of all time.

Regardless of it being released in the late 90s I still find it very fresh especially songs such as Swim, Sky Fits Heaven and Skin. It is my ultimate summer album and will be giving it a few listens in the hot weather this week. Though of course, as mentioned it does have its more chilling moments such as Frozen and Power of Goodbye, but they work perfectly
What i love BK is that it is very "constructive" as in it talks about new life/reinvention/expression and also its "deconstructive" it literally destroys worlds and recreates them...it has a destructive but creative kinetic feel across the album and its such a one of a kind listen definitely...the warmth with it and happiness/joy displayed but also a sense of tragedy/coldness/insecurity...it is an album about life.

and totally this week i am going to blast it reminds me of summer 98....i was 6 then...crikey days! but so many memories
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Old 08-07-2013, 23:48
rfonzo
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I thought it was Madonna's best album.
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Old 08-07-2013, 23:51
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I thought it was Madonna's best album.
Its also her most acclaimed album critically.

If there is one Madonna album a non fan should listen to. I would always suggest Ray Of Light because it would change their opinion of her.
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Old 09-07-2013, 02:23
mmeister2
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I love Ray Of Light. It's such a unique and beautiful album. LAP is my favourite Madonna album but ROL is definitely close behind.
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Old 09-07-2013, 02:43
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I loved Ray of Light when it first came out.

I don't think it stood the test of time well though.
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Old 09-07-2013, 07:48
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Its also her most acclaimed album critically.

If there is one Madonna album a non fan should listen to. I would always suggest Ray Of Light because it would change their opinion of her.
I totally agree!

This album garnered Madonna lots of new fans and she got taken seriously at the Grammy Awards for the very first time.
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Old 09-07-2013, 12:58
Benllech
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10/10 for me
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Old 09-07-2013, 14:39
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I loved Ray of Light when it first came out.

I don't think it stood the test of time well though.
I actually think it has a lot of filler tracks on it and I too loved it back in the day.

I would only listen to it now for the singles and a few tracks.
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