In 1998, Madonna was at a career crossroads. After dominating the 1980s with hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Open Your Heart,” she spent the first half of the ’90s wavering between roles as a provocateur (Erotica, Sex) and adult-contemporary balladeer (“I’ll Remember,” “Take a Bow”). That’s when she took a sharp left turn, working with producers and DJs in the burgeoning electronica scene. If it even was a scene: The very term electronica was a music-business confection, and by 1997, it was more hype than hit. But the result of Madonna’s experiment—her acclaimed ’98 album Ray of Light—was not only one of her biggest smashes. It also helped turn electronic music into viable pop.
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