Madonna, Ray of Light

Album: “Ray of Light,” 1998 Chic collaborators: Aside from occasional breakthroughs such as Fatboy Slim, electronica wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 album’s “Shanti/Ashtangi”). All the fun of early Madonna + all the maturity of “Bedtime Stories” Madonna = Total Madonna. Controversy: Having already offended Catholics and Christians, Madonna’s 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. Madonna’s 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.
Warner Bros.
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