“You only see what your eyes want to see
How can life be what you want it to be
When your heart’s not open”
Coos a breathy, newly conformed Madonna on her chilly late-’90s smash, “Frozen,” a song that would not only deliver an accompanying gothic desert draped video that had all of us clutching our Madonna pearls when it premiered on MTV (Feb 16th, 1998. to be exact.), but the somber sonnet would also hold the key into Madonna’s brilliantly beautiful Ray of Light music gates.
After returning to pop music to get her Lourdes and Evita on, Ms. Madonna linked up with legendary techno producer William Orbit as her collaborator for the project in what was indeed an esteemed effort to keep her music claws sharp in staying on top of contemporary music trends-and it worked like an “Ashtangi” charm.
Because of Madonna and Orbit’s subtle, brilliant attack they took the eccentricities of electronica to new levels while managing to retain Madonna’s foundation-her feisty flair for soaring pop melodies. Together, the dynamic duo succeeded in creating what was the first mainstream pop album that embraced techno..and got it right.
Also, Madonna’s vocals were just simply on point. While, yes, Light is one of her most adventurous music rides, the album soars because of the wonderfully constructed Evita-like mannerisms of Madonna’s precise singing. Whether it’s on the electronically twisted title track, the whispering opener, “Substitute for Love,” the Molly-dripping, “Skin,” or the mind numbing, “Frozen,” Ray of Light is just that record.
Here at Philly Mixtape, we would never ask you stop what you’re doing in your day, but when it comes to Ray of Light, you absolutely need to get lost in Madonna’s Grammy-winning set right this second–and here are 5 reasons why.
1.It’s the perfect record for those “ugh” days…
While we all wish everyday to be as perky as Kelly Ripa, we indeed all have those days when we’re feeling more like Fiona Apple in ’96. Lucky for all of us, Madonna served us with the perfect album for when you just want to zen out and not smack somebody with your Boy Toy belt.
Blessed with a set list of wild, whirling grooves, deep tones, and lyrics about coming closer to just maybe figuring it all the f#$k out, (I mean, “Sky Fits Heaven“..bliss.), Madonna’s wonderful seventh studio set not only showcased a tremendous amount of growth for her as an artist, but her fans also grew up;basking in a record that still has the ability to musically lift us up no matter what kind of Britney-in-’07 day were having.
2.It will take your workout to new spiritual levels…
Planning on hitting the gym today? Or, maybe you’ll be doing some yoga and Pilates in a room full of hotties? Well, you need to immediately turn on the Light and prepare to really put the Jane back in your Fonda during your workout while getting musically served with this classic record.
The opening orbs of “Drowned World/Substitute for Love” will play out perfectly for those opening stretches. The deep house decadence of “Nothing Really Matters” will have you hitting that bench press for your life, and the wonderfully weird electro-drums of “Ashanti/Shantagi” will have you getting into yoga positions you never thought possible.
But indeed, it’s the album’s title track that really gets the blood pumping with its heart-attack inducing Orbit throb, which is blended with perfection to coincide with Madonna’s zephyr-licious vocals.
3.It’s a ’90s record….that doesn’t sound ’90s at all.
While Light was served up in the ’90s, it doesn’t have the feel or the sound of the sometimes musically ratchet decade. In fact, it doesn’t even sound like 2015. Meaning that Madonna and Orbit knew what they were doing by creating a world of sounds that were meant to be in a futuristic time warp of their very own.
The murky music tones of “Swim” still play out like an apocalyptic anthem-for-the-ages. The Jetsons-esque vibe of “Skin” still feels like something Rosie would get down to in an after hours dance club in the future. Even softer Light spots, “To Have and Not To Hold,” “Little Star,” and third single,”The Power of Goodbye” still contain the strength to make that music love kick in just a little bit harder.
4.All those remixes….
While each of the offerings on Ray of Light were already tailor-made for the dance floor of life, a handful of legendary DJs came along and pretty much took every track from Madge’s synth-soaked set and turned them into an even better versions of themselves.
The most daring remix during the Ray of Light era (for more, click here) came when DJ legends Peter Rauhofer and Victor Calderone took the spaced-out “Skin” and turned it into even more a futuristic music mind fuck than it already is. You just have to put those headphones on and listen….right now.
5.It’s one of Madonna’s best records. Red strings down.
If you were to ask any Madonna fan what their favorite Queen of Pop album is, there’s no doubt that each and every answer would be different. But if you were to ask them to make a list of their top 3 favorite Madge studio sets, Ray of Light is the one album that would be on everybody‘s lists.
Not only is Madonna’s incredible music journey just all wrapped in great music, but it still stirs up all of the right music feelings and emotions. Ms. Ciccone’s Ray of Light also still plays out like breath of fresh of air that it was nearly 20 years ago–and that’s the best part.
“Shanti/Ashtangi” for life.