Ray of Light is the seventh studio album by American singer
Madonna. It was released on February 22, 1998 by
Warner Bros. Records. After giving birth to her first child, Madonna started working on the album with producers
Patrick Leonard. Following failed sessions with them, Madonna pursued a new musical direction with English producer
William Orbit. The recording took place over four months 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
techno-pop album which incorporates several genres, including
trip hop and
house 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
Buddhism, as well as her daily practice of
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 mature, restrained 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, 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 noted the album's influence on
popular music, and how it introduced electronica into mainstream pop culture. They also noted Madonna's musical re-invention with the album, which helped her remain contemporary among the teenage artists of the period. Ray of Light has been ranked among lists of greatest albums of all time.