Album: Ray of Light, 1998
Chic collaborators: Aside from occasional breakthroughs such as Fatboy Slim, electronica wasnt totally mainstream fare when Madonna released Ray of Light. Recognizing the burgeoning scene, Madonna tapped techno pioneer William Orbit as her Ray of Light collaborator.
Back to roots: This record takes me back to where I started -- in a club right in the middle of a dance floor," she told Billboard. It's full circle, except I'm so different now.
Cross-platform branding: Can you say Oscar? She didnt win one in 1998, but she did appear at the awards a couple weeks after Ray of Light hit stores, and, coincidentally, around the same time Evita was released on DVD. The following year, she recorded Beautiful Stranger for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was milking Ray of Light all the way into 2001, when it became the theme song for Windows XP.
Fashion/beauty partner: While making sure to appear at the Versace shows and parties, Madonna inked a multimillion-dollar deal to help launch a new Max Factor cosmetic line in Europe.
Gimmick: The sudden makeover from go-go dancer to yoga instructor (see the albums Shanti/Ashtangi). All the fun of early Madonna + all the maturity of Bedtime Stories Madonna = Total Madonna.
Controversy: Having already offended Catholics and Christians, Madonnas MTV Video Music Awards in 1998 irritated the Hindus. Her Ray of Light performance came complete with holy facial markings and sexually suggestive clothing, the latter of which were seen as taboo when combined with the holy symbols. Madonnas response: If they're so pure, why are they watching MTV?"
Getting out the youth vote: Madonna conducted a live TV interview on MuchMusic, answering questions from fans in person, and via phone, e-mail or fax. She also performed her first club show in years, and appeared on the Kids Choice Awards.