Song of the Day #4,792: ‘Ray of Light’ – Madonna

Following Bedtime Stories, Madonna waited four years to release her next studio album, the longest span between new records in her career to that point.

During that time, she starred in Evita, gave birth to daughter Lourdes, and found religion in the form of the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah. Busy, busy!

The Evita role prompted her to work with a vocal coach, a decision that paid off on 1998’s Ray of Light.

After working with R&B producers on her previous album, Madonna sought out a new sound for this one, ultimately settling on English musician William Orbit. They labored for four months, coming up with an electronica sound that was new to the mainstream pop scene.

The groundbreaking sound, along with Madonna’s richer vocals and more contemplative lyrics, make Ray of Light one of her greatest albums.

This is a world away from the addictive bubblegum pop that made her famous, and it’s a testament to her versatility that she can reach similar artistic heights in such vastly different styles.

I’m exactly halfway through Madonna’s discography, and I did not expect to be so happily surprised by what I’m hearing.

I might have missed the bus at the time, but Ray of Light certainly found an audience. It set a record for the most first-week sales by a female artist and went on to sell 4.3 million copies in the U.S. and 16 million worldwide.

[Verse 1]
Zephyr in the sky at night, I wonder
Do my tears of mourning sink beneath the sun?
She’s got herself a universe gone quickly
For the call of thunder threatens everyone

[Chorus]
And I feel like I just got home
And I feel
And I feel like I just got home
And I feel

[Verse 2]
Faster than the speeding light she’s flying
Trying to remember where it all began
She’s got herself a little piece of heaven
Waiting for the time when Earth shall be as one

[Chorus]
And I feel like I just got home
And I feel
And I feel like I just got home
And I feel

[Post-Chorus]
Quicker than a ray of light
Quicker than a ray of light
Quicker than a ray of light

[Verse 3]
Zephyr in the sky at night, I wonder
Do my tears of mourning sink beneath the sun?
She’s got herself a universe gone quickly
For the call of thunder threatens everyone

[Middle 8]
And I feel
Quicker than a ray of light, then gone for
Someone else will be there
Through the endless years

[Outro]
She’s got herself a universe
She’s got herself a universe
She’s got herself a universe
And I feel
And I feel
And I feel like I just got home
And I feel
Quicker than a ray of light, she’s flying
Quicker than a ray of light, I’m flying

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,792: ‘Ray of Light’ – Madonna

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    By the time this album was released, I was well past regularly listening to commercial radio or watching music videos, though I have heard the title track from this album before. Electronica never did much for me, even if done well by Madonna, but I do appreciate her continued evolution.

  2. Peg says:

    I thought she was wonderful in Evita!

  3. Amy says:

    I can’t believe I’ve been missing the deep dive into Madonna! She is one of the artists I most regret never seeing in concert. This electronica music does not a thing for me. Give me her bubble gum pop any and every day. Still, nobody handled a reinvention quite as successfully or effortlessly as Madonna did. I regularly applaud Taylor Swift’s ability to shift between country and pop, but Madonna’s ability to own a sound such as this one is something TS couldn’t do (and probably wouldn’t want to, so there’s that). Even though I’m not a fan of this type of music, I do appreciate today’s SOTD.

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