After weeks of postponing the release of her sixth album, famed pop star Lady Gaga finally dropped her new album, “Chromatica,” on Friday; the original release date was April 10, but Gaga delayed the release because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The album is dramatic and funky, a side she’s subdued since her third studio album “Joanne” and her appearance in the musical film, “A Star is Born.” Both soundtracks highlight a more country-pop sound, while “Chromatica” doesn’t shy away from the house-dance music and electro-pop tracks early Gaga fans are familiar with.
The album is broken into three acts. This theatrical strategy is on-brand for Gaga, known to some as one of the most profound pop stars; she was even named “The Queen of Pop” by Rolling Stone. The listener knows they’ve entered a new act when an instrumental segue is played.
The first track, “Chromatica I,” is purely instrumental, and the music swells with drama. The symphonic and refined instrumentation makes the prelude sound like the beginning track of a movie.
With a seamless transition, the album moves to the track titled “Alice,” which highlights Gaga’s personal troubles with continuing on in life after facing hardships and fighting for contentment. She references the storybook “Alice in Wonderland” and sings, “I’m in the hole, I’m falling down / So down, down / My name isn’t Alice, but I’ll keep looking for Wonderland.”
The next song on the album is “Stupid Love,” which is a prerelease accompanied by a popular music video with 86 million views on YouTube.
“In the ‘Stupid Love’ video, red and blue are fighting,” Gaga said on Apple Music. “It could decidedly be a political commentary. And it’s very divisive. The way that I see the world is that we are divided, and that it creates a tense environment that is very extremist.”
This pop ballad has been circulating weeks before “Chromatica” in its entirety was released. Upon listening to “Stupid Love,” one may think it’s just another summer pop song to be stuck in their head, but upon further listening it’s possible to discern there may be political commentary sprinkled into the song.
“Rain on Me,” featuring Ariana Grande, was also prereleased. This song is the first ever Gaga and Grande collaboration. It’s an upbeat pop song; Gaga’s quirky musicality and Grande’s delicateness shine in the song, creating a satisfying juxtaposition.
The emotional and house-inspired song, “Free Women,” is about Gaga overcoming sexual assault by a music producer. She sings in the chorus, “I'm not nothing without a steady hand / I'm not nothing unless I know I can / I'm still something if I don't got a man / I'm a free woman, oh-oh (Be free).” Throughout the song, Gaga seems to be taking back her narrative as a survivor and relishing in her strengths and ability to be free.
“Fun Tonight,” an upbeat electro-pop song, is about Gaga facing the sadness and numbness in her life. Although the song’s overall effect is bouncy and uplifting, the lyrics portray an entirely different emotion. Gaga sings distinctly throughout the chorus, “Oh, oh, oh / I'm not havin' fun tonight.”
The second act begins with the song “Chromatica II.” This instrumental segue feels ominous but then swells into an exciting and dramatic transition for “911.”
“911” is a true electronic pop song. The listener may feel like they’re in another universe. Gaga disclosed that this song is about taking antipsychotic medication. She sings, “My biggest enemy is me / pop a 911, then pop another one.”
“Plastic Doll” is a high energy pop anthem that’s Gaga’s critique on what society expects of a perfect pop star and how she wishes to break free of that archetype. She sings passionately, “Don't play with me / It just hurts me / I'm bouncin' off the walls / No, no, no, I'm not your plastic doll.”
Gaga has a few collaborations in “Chromatica.” In “Sour Candy,” she sings with a K-pop girl group called BLACKPINK. The song has hip-hop, electronic and pop influences. “Sour Candy” feels different from the other tracks in the album because the beat of the song sounds more in line with hip-hop than electro-pop; the overall sound was unexpected but enjoyable.
The song “Enigma” pays homage to her third studio album, “Artpop.” This electropop track feels boldly Gaga because of her singing and the track’s backing.
Seemingly about her fans and how fame impacts her mental health, “Replay” depicts her struggles with PTSD. She sings, “I don't know what to do, you don't know what to say / The scars on my mind are on replay, r-replay / The monster inside you is torturing me.”
Bringing the listener into the third act, “Chromatica III” is a light and hopeful instrumental track that takes the listener into “Sine from Above.” In this song, Gaga makes the intentional decision to spell sine as it is, meaning a soundwave. “Sine from above” alludes to a literal heavenly or divine sign. This song is Gaga’s second collaboration with Elton John. Gaga and John sing in tandem, “I heard one sine / And it healed my heart, heard a sine.”
“1000 Doves” is an emotional electro-pop ballad. Gaga passionately croons over the synthesized music, “Lift me up, give me a start / 'Cause I've been flying with some broken arms / Lift me up, just a small nudge / And I'll be flying like a thousand doves.”
The album comes to a close with high energy dance track “Babylon.'' The song features Gaga’s low sing-songy voice, “Strut it out, walk a mile / Serve it, ancient-city style / Talk it out, babble on / Battle for your life, Babylon.”
“Chromatica” isn’t only a genuine, personal and eclectic Gaga work, but a comprehensive art form. Gaga strays away from the pop-country style she showcased on her fifth studio album “Joanne” and reverts back to her notorious dance floor-style music heard on her first three albums. Long-awaited, fans have plenty of music to look forward to dancing to when the party scene is able to resume.
Contact Audrey Nakagawa at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.