Album Review: Ray of Light

A look back at the influential 7th studio album released by pop superstar, Madonna.

Madonnas 1998 album Ray of Light

Mario Testino, Maverick Records

Madonna’s 1998 album Ray of Light

Trevor Casey, Staff Writer

So much has changed since 1998. Cell phones aren’t heavy bricks of plastic. Nobody uses a PDA anymore. We find Beanie Babies in the bottom of the thrift store toy bins and the Rachel Greene haircut died out as fast as it became relevant. 

When we turn on the radio today, we hear Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Drake, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran and many more dominating the airwaves. In 1998, you most likely would’ve heard a song called “Ray of Light”, a song from the album of the same name by pop superstar, Madonna.

Despite being released in 1998, Ray of Light in its entirety still sounds as new and fresh as it did 21 years ago, a statement that most Madonna fans would agree with. The album opens with “Drowned World/Substitute For Love,” which sets the electronica sound of the album, intertwines with guitar and other stringed instruments. It’s that sound that doesn’t make the album feel or sound as aged as any other album from the time period would be. 

Ray of Light” embodies the late 90’s and early 00’s. It’s that definitive sound that feels warm and nostalgic. Madonna then goes on and brings this feeling with the rest of the album. Madonna conveys a sense of moving on with life and getting over your problems with “Nothing Really Matters.” Many admire how she went a whole new direction and sound for “Shanti/Ashtangi,” singing in Sanskrit, a feat that many didn’t and still won’t attempt to this day.

The album closes with “Little Star,” a song that feels so light and bubbly. It has that feeling because Madonna wrote it with her 2 year old daughter in mind. It brings back the same nostalgic feeling that Ray of Light did. Little Star has to be one of the most sentimental songs Madonna has put out during her career.

Despite being a literal 21 years since it’s release, Ray of Light still sounds fresh as it did in 1998. There isn’t a single track on the album that feels outdated. I would recommend Ray of Light to anyone who is looking for a good late 90’s pop album or to someone who is just discovering Madonna. 

Nostalgia, ironically, is fresh and new.  Sometimes looking back can be the best way to enjoy the current moment.  We see this happening in fashion, technology, and we do so for our entertainment pleasure.

Ray of Light can be found on almost all streaming platforms.