On November 14 1998, Madonna was the subject of a press conference at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden – her first visit to Sweden in 8 years.
On September 17 1998, Madonna released a statement against the World Vaisnava Association’s criticism of her MTV performance: “The essence of purity and divinity is non-judgement… they should practice what they preach… if they’re so pure, why are they watching MTV?”
Madonna’s skin and makeup are so beautiful in the last photo. I love her hair like this, it reminds me of Courteney Cox’s hair towards the end of Friends. Beautiful! I often wonder if we will ever see Madonna with dark hair again (and I don’t mean a wig).
On September 10 1998, Madonna performed “Shanti/Ashtangi” and “Ray Of Light” at the 15th annual MTV Video Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, California. “Ray Of Light” won Best Video, Best Female Video, Best Direction (Jonas Åkerlund), Best Choreography, Best Editing and “Frozen” won Best Special Effects.
On August 24 1998, “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” was released as the third single from Ray Of Light in most major markets outside North America. The song was written by Madonna, William Orbit and David Collins (Rod McKuen and Anita Kerr were also credited for sampled use of their composition “Why I Follow The Tigers” performed by The San Sebastian Strings) and was produced by Madonna and Orbit.
With the album’s title track being issued as the second single in North America a month after its release in other markets, it was decided to release “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” to fill the gap until her next international single release, “The Power Of Good-bye.” The single peaked at number-ten in the UK, at number-five in Italy and at number-one in Spain. Despite not being released in Canada, the song managed to reach number eighteen on the Canadian singles chart based solely on sales of the European import single, and without any promotion from radio or music video stations. Club play of the imported single, which featured remixes of both “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” and its b-side, “Sky Fits Heaven,” prompted a brief appearance by the latter on the U.S. Hot Dance/Club Play Chart, peaking at number forty-one.
The music video, filmed in London by director Walter Stern, caused a minor controversy due to scenes of Madonna’s car being chased by paparazzi on motorcycles, an image still fresh in the public’s mind at the time due the circumstances surrounding the death of Princess Diana. Liz Rosenberg denied that the scene had anything to do with the late Princess, adding that the video was about Madonna’s own experience and relationship with fame.
The song is often ranked as a fan favorite and seems to be highly-regarded by Madonna as well, considering her 2001 concert tour was named after the song and it was used as the show’s opening number. It was also performed during 2006′s Confessions Tour and appeared on her second greatest hits collection, GHV2. An early demo version of the song believed to be produced with Patrick Leonard titled “No Substitute For Love” leaked online in the early 2000′s. The demo contains similar lyrics but a completely different musical backing track and melody. The music that was used on the final version of the song was a previously composed instrumental track by William Orbit.
Famous faces, far off places
Trinkets I can buy
No handsome stranger, heady danger
Drug that I can try
No ferris wheel, no heart to steal
No laughter in the dark
No one-night stand, no far-off land
No fire that I can spark
On June 20, 1998, Madonna’s “Ray of Light” became the #1 dance single on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. The hit single remained #1 for 4 weeks!
“Ray of Light” was written by Madonna, William Orbit, Clive Muldoon, Dave Curtiss, Christine Leach, and produced by Madonna and Orbit. “Ray of Light” is based on Curtiss Maldoon’s “Sepheryn“.
“It took a long time to do the album, months. And it wasn’t like we were slacking. We actually did have to work fast, and there were many times when we had to move on. One of Madonna’s favorite phrases was: ‘Don’t gild the lily.’ In other words, keep it rough, and don’t perfect it too much. It’s a natural urge for computer buffs to perfect everything because they can, and we were very wary of that.”—William Orbit on working with Madonna; Keyboard magazine
On May 12, 1998, Madonna’s “Ray of Light” video premiered on MTV.
The video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, with Madonna’s scenes being shot on March 25–26, 1998 at Raleigh Studios and Florentine Gardens nightclub in downtown Los Angeles. The images of various cities include Los Angeles, New York, London, Las Vegas and Stockholm.
The video was ranked No. 40 on VH1′s 100 Greatest Videos, listed No. 1 on Back In… 98′s Top 5 Best Videos, ranked No. 7 on Listed’s Top 40 Memorable Videos Pt. 1 & 2, on MuchMoreMusic, and ranked No. 26 on MuchMusic’s 100 Best Videos. It was ranked at number four on “The Top 100 Videos That Broke The Rules”, issued by MTV on the channel’s 25th anniversary in August 2006.
The video received a total of eight MTV Video Music Awards nominations, becoming Madonna’s second most-nominated video at the award show, after “Vogue” in 1990. It won five awards for Video of the Year, Best Female Video, Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Choreography, becoming her most-winning song at the show.
On April 30, 2006, Madonna made her festival debut at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California.
Madonna performed six songs in front of one of the largest crowds ever to witness an artist at the event. The set featured her latest hit single “Hung Up,” “Get Together,” “I Love New York,” “Ray of Light,” “Let It Will Be” and the vintage “Everybody.” The show served as a warm-up for the May 21 kick-off of her Confessions Tour in Los Angeles.