Madonna – Ray of Light: #634 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Madonna - Ray of Light

Why is Madonna’s Ray of Light on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

Faster than the speed of light, she’s flying, trying to remember where it all began.

Some stats & info about Madonna – Ray of Light

Madonna’s Ray of Light on Spotify

So why is Madonna’s Ray of Light on this best 1,000 albums thing?

It’s probably due in part to the fact that I “grew up with Madonna,” but in any event it’s really easy to be deeply impressed with how Madonna has reinvented herself throughout her musical career.

Cut to the late 1990s, and an attempt by artist who broke onto the scene with “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” in 1983 to put out a trend-riding electronica album could have easily gone disastrously wrong or, perhaps even worse, wanderingly meh.

Instead, Ray of Light sounds super fresh – still to this day in 2022, I should note – upbeat, easy, exuberant. None of these things happened by accident: they’re the result of meticulous songwriting and sound production, the latter by way of techno producer William Orbit. The mesh of Madonna’s pop pedigree and Orbit’s techno orchestrations sounds better upon each listen of Ray of Light, in fact.

The title track, “Ray of Light,” exemplifies all of these qualities best. The music video is also really well done, mapping the frantic pace of late 20th century life against a yearning need to find peace and contentment… enlightenment, even? Also, you know, flashing lights and Madonna dancing and stuff.

“The Power of Good-Bye” is a gentle, pulsing song and wonderfully frames Madonna’s vocals. Along with “Frozen” (ironically enough), these two tracks to me sound like they could almost be featured in a modern-set musical.

“Sky Fits Heaven” not only is an intriguing dance pop-meets-electronica song, but it’s noteworthy in how restrained the overall production is. The electronic blips and fast-paced electronic percussion is there, but it’s muted in a way so as to soften the overall sonic aesthetic. And again, that allows Madonna’s vocals – especially during the pretty chorus – to really shine through.

See also: Madonna – Bedtime Stories: #745 of best 1,000 albums ever

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.