Gone are the days of Artpop—or, as one might more accurately call it, Artflop. Chromatica, Lady Gaga’s latest otherworldly dance-pop creation, has given a country plagued by a pandemic and civil unrest a chance to escape earthly woes. With her new album, the disco stick-touting, meat dress-wearing songstress is reclaiming the dance floors she dominated with hit albums of years past, such as 2008’s The Fame. Despite having proved herself musically and personally over the years, when the release of Chromatica was delayed nearly two months, doubts arose over whether the “Poker Face” singer could deliver an album of the same award-winning caliber she’s become famous for over the past decade.
Congratulations, folks—you only played yourself. As a hit-making machine, from the provocative The Fame to the uniquely folksy Joanne to the jazzy Cheek to Cheek, Stefani Germanotta consistently succeeds on any project she sets her mind to. It truly seems that there’s nothing Gaga can’t do—she even made the jump to the big screen and delivered an Oscar-nominated performance in 2018’s A Star is Born. For her latest endeavor, Gaga ensured she had a team of talented hitmakers behind her, enlisting producers BloodPop and Burns, along with Charli XCX, Little Mix, and PartyNextDoor.
Chromatica does what previous albums by comparable artists have failed to do. Beginning with a whimsical orchestral piece, “Chromatica I,” the album seamlessly integrates grandiose classical flavors with techno-influenced songs you would be hard-pressed to miss at any club. As “Chromatica I” comes to a close, “Chromatica II” begins with the same electric orchestral note the former ended on in order to perfectly transition between songs. “Chromatica III” begins the same way. The listener is thoughtfully guided through the soundscape of the eclectic world of Chromatica.
Amid the smash hit tracks on the album, two highly publicized singles stand out: “Stupid Love” and “Rain on Me,” a pop queen dream collaboration with Ariana Grande. As the lead single off the album, “Stupid Love” epitomizes the sound of the album. With tweaked vocals that work just right and a killer message, the tune is set to take over the charts. “Now it’s time to free me from the chain / I gotta find that peace,” Gaga sings in the second verse, asserting the same strong, independent vibes that permeate the entire work. The quick release of follow-up single “Rain on Me” is a move only the most experienced artists, such as Gaga and her team members, could have dreamt up. Paired with a must-dance-to music video, it is poised to dominate the quarantine radio waves well into the dog days of summer.
The album is equal parts a declaration of freedom and a kaleidoscope through which Gaga views her past struggles. As a gay icon, legislative advocate for equal rights, and sexual assault survivor, Germanotta digs deep for every lyrical choice.
During “Replay,” she passionately belts, “The scars on my mind are on replay / The monster inside you is torturing me,” alluding to past experiences with self-harm, PTSD, and use of antipsychotic prescription pills, issues that she’s opened up about in interviews. Her musings here are reminiscent of those in her hit single “Monster.” “He ate my heart,” she laments in the 2009 track. “Am I still alive? The monster inside you is torturing me,” she continues on “Replay,” revisiting her trauma and continuing the dialogue on mental health.
Despite her willingness to dive into her own personal experiences, numerous other tracks bolster the feel-good energy of the album, including “Free Woman,” “1000 Doves,” and a glitter-laden collaboration with Sir Elton John, “Sine From Above.” Through her unmistakable joie de vivre, Lady Gaga is uniquely capable of communicating through her music. Chromatica hits the mark in every category. Going out for a drink in the city? “Fun Tonight.” Treating yourself to an extra scoop of Ben & Jerry’s (they employ ex-convicts and pay them a truly livable wage!)? “Plastic Doll.” Package comes from your favorite small business and you’re doing a fashion show for your dog? “Enigma.” The limitless possibilities seemingly only possible in the world of Chromatica are brought down to Earth for 43 euphoric minutes. We asked, and Lady Gaga delivered.
Featured Image by Interscope Records