Ray of Light is Madonna's seventh studio album that was released on February 22, 1998 by Maverick Records.
- Drowned World/Substitute For Love 5:09
- Swim 5:00
- Ray Of Light 5:21
- Candy Perfume Girl 4:34
- Skin 6:22
- Nothing Really Matters 4:27
- Sky Fits Heaven 4:48
- Shanti/Ashtangi 4:29
- Frozen 6:12
- The Power Of Good-Bye 4:10
- To Have And Not To Hold 5:23
- Little Star 5:18
- Mer Girl 5:32
Album Title & Artwork
In the United States, "Ray of Light" debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 with 370,000 copies sold, setting the record for the biggest first-week sales by a female artist in Nielsen SoundScan era.
During the second week, the album sold 225,000 copies and was still kept off the top spot by the soundtrack.
On March 16, 2000, "Ray Of Light" was certified four times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of four million units of the album. Madonna became the first female artist to have seven multi-platinum studio albums by RIAA.
As of December 2016, the album had sold 3.891 million copies in the United States and over 16 million copies worldwide.
"Ray of Light" received widespread acclaim from music critics.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic called it Madonna's "most adventurous record" and her "most mature and restrained album." In his review, he gave the album four and a half out of five stars.
Paul Verna from Billboard commented: "Easily her most mature and personal work to date, Ray of Light finds Madonna weaving lyrics with the painstaking intimacy of diary entries and wrapping them in hymn-like melodies and instrumentation swathed in lush, melancholy ambience—with forays into classic house, trance, and even guitar pop. Of course, she balances the set's serious tone with chewy pop nuggets that allow her to flex her immeasurably widened vocal range to fine effect."
He finished the review by calling the album "a deliciously adventurous, ultimately victorious effort from one of pop music's most compelling performers."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described the album as "one of the great pop masterpieces of the '90s" and stated that: "Its lyrics are uncomplicated but its statement is grand" and "Madonna hasn't been this emotionally candid since Like a Prayer".
Sheffield's review for Rolling Stone called the album "brilliant", but was critical of Orbit's production, saying that he doesn't know enough tricks to produce a whole album, and so becomes repetitive.
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "For all her grapplings with self-enlightenment, Madonna seems more relaxed and less contrived than she's been in years, from her new Italian earth-mother makeover to, especially, her music. Ray of Light is truly like a prayer, and you know she'll take you there."
Roni Sarig, in a review for City Pages, was most impressed by Madonna's vocal range, depth, and clarity and called it "her richest, most accomplished record yet."
Music critic Robert Hilburn from Los Angeles Times wrote, "One reason why her new Ray of Light is the most satisfying album of her career is that it reflects the soul-searching of a woman who is at a point in her life where she can look at herself with surprising candor and perspective."
Writing for Melody Maker in February 1998, Mark Roland drew comparisons with the music of St Etienne and Björk's Homogenic album, highlighting the album lack of cynicism as its most positive aspect: "It's not an album turned on the lathe of cynical pop manipulation, rather it's been squished out of a lump of clay on a foot-powered wheel. Lovingly teased into life, Ray of Light is like the ugly mug that doesn't match but is all the more special because of it."
Joan Anderman from The Boston Globe said that "Ray of Light" is a remarkable album. He described it as a deeply spiritual dance record, ecstatically textured, a serious cycle of songs that goes a long way toward liberating Madonna from a career built on scavenged images and cultivated identities.
Robert Christgau was less impressed in Playboy, deeming Ray of Light a "great-sounding," but average record because of enlightenment themes that always yield awkward results for pop entertainers, although he praised sensual songs such as "Skin" and "Candy Perfume Girl."