Ray of Light is the seventh studio album by American singer Madonna. It was released in Japan on February 22, 1998 by Maverick and Warner Bros. Records and worldwide on March 3, 1998. After giving birth to her first child, Madonna started working on the album with producers Babyface and Patrick Leonard. Following failed sessions with them, Madonna pursued a new musical direction with English producer William Orbit. The recording process was the longest of Madonna's career and experienced problems with Orbit's hardware arrangement, which would break down, and recording would have to be delayed until they could be repaired.
A departure from her previous work, Ray of Light is an electronica and dance album which incorporates multiple genres, including ambient, trip hop and Middle Eastern music. Vocally, the album saw Madonna sing with greater breadth and a fuller tone. Mystical themes are also strongly present in both the music and lyrics, as a result of Madonna embracing Kabbalah, her study of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as her daily practice of Ashtanga Yoga.
The album received universal acclaim with reviews commending the singer's new musical direction. Called her "most adventurous" record, Ray of Light has been noted for its introspective, spiritual nature; reviewers also praised Madonna's vocals. Ray of Light won four Grammy Awards from a total of six nominations. Commercially, the album peaked at number one in many countries, such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom. On the US Billboard 200, the album debuted and peaked at number two, with the biggest first week sales by a female artist at the time. Ray of Light has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide.
Five singles were released from the album, including the international hits "Frozen" and "Ray of Light". The album's promotion was later supported by the Drowned World Tour in 2001. Academics have noted the album's influence on popular music, and how it introduced electronica and mysticism into mainstream pop culture. They also noted Madonna's musical re-invention which helped her remain contemporary among the teen-marketed artists of the period. Ray of Light is frequently cited by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time.