I hope you have enjoyed this week’s music of Madonna.
Madonna’s seventh studio album, Ray of Light, (1998) reflected this change in her perception and image. She collaborated with then relatively unknown electronica producer William Orbit and wanted to create a sound that could blend dance music with pop and British rock. American music critic Ann Powers explained that what Madonna searched for with Orbit “was a kind of a lushness that she wanted for this record. Techno and rave was happening in the 90’s and had a lot of different forms. There was very experimental, more hard stuff like Aphex Twin. There was party stuff like Fatboy Slim. That’s not what Madonna wanted for this. She wanted something more like a singer-songwriter, really. And William Orbit provided her with that.” The album garnered critical acclaim and Slant Magazine declared it as “one of the great pop masterpieces of the ’90s”. Ray of Light was honored with four Grammy Awards, and Rolling Stone listed it among “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. Commercially, the album peaked at number one in numerous countries and sold more than 16 million copies worldwide. The album’s first single, “Frozen”, became Madonna’s first single to debut at number one in the UK, while in the U.S. it became her sixth number-two single and set another record for Madonna as the artist with the most number two hits. The second single, “Ray of Light”, debuted at number five on the Billboard Hot 100.
The 1998 edition of Guinness Book of World Records stated: “No female artist has sold more records than Madonna around the world”. In 1999, Madonna signed to play a violin teacher in the film Music of the Heart but left the project, citing “creative differences” with director Wes Craven. She recorded the single “Beautiful Stranger” for the 1999 film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. It reached number 19 on the Hot 100 solely on radio airplay and earned Madonna a Grammy Award for “Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media”.
In 2000, Madonna starred in the film, The Next Best Thing, and contributed two songs to the film’s soundtrack: “Time Stood Still” and the international hit “American Pie”, a cover version of Don McLean’s 1971 song. She released her eighth studio album, Music, in September 2000. It featured elements from the electronica-inspired Ray of Light era, and catered to her gay audience. Collaborating with French producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï, Madonna commented: “I love to work with the weirdos that no one knows about—the people who have raw talent and who are making music unlike anyone else out there. Music is the future of sound.” Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic felt that “Music blows by in a kaleidoscopic rush of color, technique, style and substance. It has so many depth and layers that it’s easily as self-aware and earnest as Ray of Light.” The album took the number-one position in more than 20 countries worldwide and sold four million copies in the first ten days. In the U.S., Music debuted at the top, and became her first number-one album in eleven years since Like a Prayer. It produced three singles: the Hot 100 number one “Music”, “Don’t Tell Me”, and “What It Feels Like for a Girl”. The music video of “What It Feels Like for a Girl” depicted Madonna committing acts of crime and vandalism, and was banned by MTV and VH1.
In 1999, Madonna met her second husband director Guy Ritchie. On August 11, 2000, she gave birth three weeks earlier than expected to their son Rocco John Ritchie in Los Angeles. Rocco and Madonna suffered complications from the birth due to her experiencing placenta praevia. He was christened at Dornoch Cathedral in Dornoch, Scotland, on December 21, 2000. Madonna married Ritchie the following day at nearby Skibo Castle. Her fifth concert tour, titled Drowned World Tour, started in April 2001. The tour visited cities in the U.S. and Europe and was the highest-grossing concert tour of the year by a solo artist, earning $75 million from 47 sold-out shows. She also released her second greatest-hits collection, titled GHV2, to coincide with the home video release of the tour. GHV2 debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200.
Madonna starred in the film Swept Away, directed by Ritchie. Released direct-to-video in the UK, the film was a commercial and critical failure. In May 2002 she appeared in London in the West End play Up For Grabs at the Wyndhams Theatre (billed as ‘Madonna Ritchie’), to universally bad reviews and was described as “the evening’s biggest disappointment” by one. That October, she released “Die Another Day”, the title song of the James Bond film Die Another Day, in which she had a cameo role, described by The Guardian film reviewer as “incredibly wooden”. The song reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for both a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and a Golden Raspberry for Worst Song.