Lady Gaga blasts us off to the land of Chromatica in her brand new album, released on 29th May 2020 via Streamline and Interscope Records.
In this follow-up record to 2016’s country-pop hybrid Joanne, Gaga has truly returned to her dance-pop roots in a big way, not really seen since her 2008 debut The Fame. On the album’s conception, Gaga spoke to Zane Lowe for Beats 1 and described the ideology:
“it’s all the colours, all the sounds, you know, so we, we’re talking about inclusivity and life and also a lot of what we see around us and what we’re experiencing is math, which is very much like music and sound is math as well.”
Made almost entirely on computers, Chromatica is certainly a blast back into her past (bar the three insane orchestral interludes littered throughout). Opening track Alice sees Gaga battling through hardships to find Wonderland. It’s immediately apparent from just this track that this relatively straightforward dance sound is what she’s aiming for with the entire record, and you either have to buy in or accept that it’s just not for you. Lead single Stupid Love is arguably the most catchy moment on Chromatica, and its accompanying music video goes some way to make sense of the eclectic world she’s created surrounding the album. Adorned in uniforms that look as if the cast of Mad Max had fallen into a neon paint pot, the video manages to capture the euphoria which seeps through the sound.
Ambitiously, the next album track is in my opinion, the best on offer, in the form of Ariana Grande duet Rain On Me. It’s Gaga’s best single in almost a decade for me; endlessly catchy, uplifting, and it just makes you want to dance the night away (*sigh*, this would’ve been an undeniable banger for the club scene). Although the majority of the album is relatively upbeat and joy-filled, it’s not without its dark flashes; 911 discusses antipsychotic medication, with Gaga’s robotic vocals exclaiming that “my biggest enemy is me, pop a 911.” These dark undertones are utterly overshadowed with moments of hope and empowerment, however, such as in Free Woman, where Gaga lets go of the trauma of being a victim of sexual assault. Enigma is a wonderful celebration of lust and being sexually empowered, it’s all just amazingly out there and it’s fantastic to hear her so happy.
The most bizarre moment on the album for me was that Elton John collab. Sine From Above is just not what you’d expect a collaboration with that man to sound like, but maybe that’s just the Gaga way of doing things.
Here’s the thing, if you don’t like straight-up dance-pop, I think you’d probably write this record off from the get-go. Do I think this is Lady Gaga’s magnum opus in terms of musical creations? No. However, I do think there is a place for Chromatica in the current music scene. It’s pure escapism, which is something I think we’re all desperately craving right now. The thought of running off to a place where everyone is accepted no matter who or what they are is incredibly appealing. Put my name down as soon as we can go.
Listen to Chromatica below!