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Music / Ray of Light

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She’s got herself a universe gone quickly
For the call of thunder threatens everyone
Your heart is not open, so I must go
The spell has been broken, I loved you so
Freedom comes when you learn to let go
Creation comes when you learn to say no

You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress you had to burn
Pain is a warning that something's wrong
I pray to God that it won't be long
Do you wanna go higher?
"The Power of Goodbye"

Ray of Light is the seventh studio album recorded by American pop musician Madonna. It was released through Maverick Records on February 22, 1998.

The album spawned hits such as its Title Track and "Frozen". It was also Madonna's first record where she referenced Kabbala mysticism. It is notably only her third non-soundtrack album up until American Life that didn't contain a #1 US hit single — "Frozen" stalled at #2 behind K-Ci and Jojo's "All My Life". In contrast, "Frozen" became Madonna's first #1 single in the UK since 1990's "Vogue", kickstarting a run of five straight Top 10s from the album and a renewed streak of chart-topping success into the new millennium. "Frozen" was also banned in Belgium from 2005 until 2014 because it was supposedly plagiarized from a song by Salvatore Acquaviva, but this sentence was eventually overturned.


  1. "Drowned World/Substitute For Love" (5:09)
  2. "Swim" (5:00)
  3. "Ray of Light" (5:21)
  4. "Candy Perfume Girl" (4:34)
  5. "Skin" (6:22)
  6. "Nothing Really Matters" (4:27)
  7. "Sky Fits Heaven" (4:48)
  8. "Shanti/Ashtangi" (4:29)
  9. "Frozen" (6:12)
  10. "The Power of Goodbye" (4:10)
  11. "To Have and Not to Hold" (5:23)
  12. "Little Star" (5:18)
  13. "Mer Girl" (5:32)
  14. "Has to Be" (Japanese CD release) (5:15)

Frozen tropes:

  • Album Title Drop:
    Quicker than a ray of light
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Shanti/Ashtangi" has lines in Sanskrit.
  • But Now I Must Go: "The Power Of Good-Bye" with its first line:
    Your heart is not open, so I must go.
  • Came Back Strong: Many lyrics refer to rebirth and reincarnation. Interestingly enough the entire album was also a rebirth for Madonna's career.
  • Camera Abuse: Madonna breaks the camera with her head in the video for "Ray Of Light" near the end.
  • Careful with That Axe: Madonna's high pitched scream in "Ray Of Light".
  • Death Song: "Mer Girl". It's an extremely creepy track with sinister minimal instrumentation and equally sinister lyrics. It was said that there was an eerie silence after Madonna recorded the vocals for the song.
    And I smelt her burning flesh, her rotting bones, her decay. I ran and I ran. I'm still running away...
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: "Substitute For Love", in which the protagonist looks for a deeper meaning: "Now I find I've changed my mind/ This is my religion". "Has To Be" (a song that appears as a B-side to the "Ray Of Light" single and on the Japanese release of the album) deals with similar themes.
  • Epic Rocking: "Ray of Light" was orignally over ten minutes long; a version running 7:33 was leaked but this version remains unreleased. The producers cut it short in order for the song to fit the album.
    • Additionally, "Skin" and "Frozen" each exceed 6 minutes.
  • Face on the Cover: Madonna in close-up.
  • Failures on Ice: "Frozen", about a lover she's disappointed in, but nevertheless wants to "melt his heart".
  • Fish People: "Mer Girl". See Unscaled Merfolk.
  • Flipping the Table: Madonna and a boyfriend play a chess in the music video of "The Power Of Goodbye" and she flips the table with the chess board over near the end.
  • The Great Flood: "Drowned World", "Swim", "Mer Girl".
  • Grief Song: "Mer Girl", "The Power Of Good-Bye".
    There's no greater power than the power of goodbye
  • Harmless Freezing: "Frozen", though not as harmless as one would think. It deals with a lover not open to other people.
  • Healing Spring: Water as a healing matter to make people reborn is a strong theme throughout the album.
  • Hinduism: Inspired several lyrics on the album.
  • Informed Judaism: Kabbala is referenced a few times in her lyrics.
  • Intercourse with You: "Skin".
  • Literary Allusion Title: "To Have And Not To Hold" is a variant of the phrase used in the wedding vow from The Book of Common Prayer.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Madonna, hair twirling in the wind.
  • New Sound Album: The album was considered to be a huge departure from her earlier output, with tracks that incorporate more electronic music influences from techno, trip hop, drum and bass, ambient, rock and classical music.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Mer Girl".
    • Played with during "Drowned World/Substitute for Love" and "Shanti/Ashtangi", as only the second half of the former's title and the first half of the latter's title show up.
  • One-Woman Song: "Candy Perfume Girl", "Mer Girl".
  • One-Word Title: "Swim", "Skin", "Frozen".
  • Power Floats: Madonna levitates in the music video of "Frozen".
  • The Power of Love: "Skin", "Nothing Really Matters".
  • Real Life Writes The Song: "Sky Fits Heaven" and "Little Star" reference her then newborn daughter Lourdes. "Mer Girl" is about her mother's death.
  • Record Producer: Madonna, William Orbit, Patrick Leonard, and Marius de Vries.
  • Shapeshifting: Madonna shapeshifts into black dogs and ravens in the music video for "Frozen", directed by Chris Cunningham.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The music video of "Ray Of Light" was inspired by the fast forward editing of Koyaanisqatsi.
    • "Shanti/Ashtangi" has lyrical references lifted from the Shankaracharya, taken from the Yoga Taravali.
    • "Sky Fits Heaven" has lyrical references to the poem What Fits? by Max Blagg.
    • The music video of "Nothing Really Matters" was inspired by the novel Memoirs of a Geisha.
    • "The Power Of Goodbye" contains a sample of "I Want to Become" by Love Kills.
    • "Mer Girl" contains an interpolation and elements from "Space" performed by Gábor Szabó.
    • "Drowned World" was inspired by J. G. Ballard's novel The Drowned World. It contains a sample of "Why I Follow The Tigers" by the San Sebastian Strings. The music video features Madonna running from paparazzi, in a controversial reference to the death of Princess Diana.
    • Family Guy: Peter Griffin parodies the music video of "Ray Of Light" in the episode "New Kidney In Town", after drinking some Red Bull.
  • Special Guest: Kroatian actor Goran Višnjić, best known as Luka in ER has a cameo in the music video of "The Power Of Goodbye".
  • Stock Sound Effects: Telephone sounds in "Mer Girl".
  • Super-Speed: How life revolves around Madonna in the video for "Ray Of Light", until it eventually slows down when she's on the dance floor.
    Quicker than a ray of light.
  • Surreal Music Video: "Frozen", "Nothing Really Matters".
  • Title Track: "Ray of Light"
  • Undercrank: "Ray of Light", features mostly sped-up film of everyday life.
  • Unscaled Merfolk: "Mer Girl", about a mermaid girl.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Candy Perfume Girl".