Twenty years ago, Madonna released her seventh studio album, Ray of Light. The album would win three Grammys, sell 16 million copies, expose a growing spiritual side to the pop queen, and endear her even more to her legion of gay fans.
Produced by British musician William Orbit, Ray of Light contained songs more opaque and electronica-infused than previous Madonna releases. The first album released after the icon gave birth to her first child — Lourdes Leon — and after she won a Golden Globe for playing Eva Peron, Ray of Light seemed to usher in a new, more profound Madonna. At the time, Madonna was influenced by her yoga practice and her study of Kabbalah, an ancient Jewish spiritual practice.
After 2000’s Music and 2003’s American Life, Madonna retreated a bit from ambitious, heady albums like Ray of Light, which featured a mix of pop bangers and ballads (the title track, “The Power of Goodbye”) with darker, less Top 40-friendly tunes (“Candy Perfume Girl,” “Skin”). There was even a Hindu Sanskrit prayer that listeners could dance to (“Shanti/Ashtangi”).
The album remains a high mark in Madonna’s career and fans, especially gay fans, celebrated its release on social media (the only person who didn’t seem to reference RoL‘s birthday on Twitter was Madonna herself).
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