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Music Review: “Chromatica” by Lady Gaga

Chromatica album | Photo courtesy of Vogue.com


American singer Stefani Germanotta, known in the music world as Lady Gaga, released her sixth studio album “Chromatica” on May 15.

The album is supported by two singles: “Stupid Love” and “Rain On Me,” which features Ariana Grande. Other featured artists on the record include Elton John (on “Sine from Above”) and Blackpink (on “Sour Candy”).

This is a return to form for Gaga with very impressive instrumentation and a stark contrast between the positive, bubblegum pop-ish instrumentals and the album’s themes of depression, PTSD and self-worth.

The dance-pop aspects of the album’s contents work really well together, and Gaga’s vocals, while often touched up with effects, sound incredibly powerful against a beautiful soundscape.

Highlights

1. “Alice”

“My name isn’t Alice, but I’ll keep looking, I’ll keep looking for Wonderland,” Lady Gaga sings in the opening lyrics of “Chromatica.”

The pulsating beat of this song helps to establish the album’s sound after an excellent transition from “Chromatica I,” and the synth in the chorus adds a vibe reminiscent of an old arcade game. Coupled with Lady Gaga’s powerhouse vocals, “Alice” is quite a good way to kick off this record.

2. “Rain On Me”

The watery bass line flows really nicely, especially during the postchoruses, and Ariana Grande is well-utilized in this bop of the track. The two artists’ voices mesh together quite smoothly, as neither of them outsings the other.

3. “911”

Gaga’s robotic vocals and a techno-oriented style of production will no doubt have you moving your head to the beat. I do wish that this song would have been longer, but what we do get is a blissful electronic cacophony of sound.

Background

Lady Gaga started pursuing a music career after dropping out of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She began working as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

While Lady Gaga was working here, she signed a record deal with both Interscope Records and KonLive Distribution, a label owned by the musician Akon, in 2007. The next year saw the release of her debut studio album, “The Fame,” which yielded multiple hit singles such as “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.”

This album was reissued the next year to include songs from Gaga’s extended play “The Fame Monster.” She embarked on both the Fame Ball Tour and Monster Ball Tour in support of these projects.

Gaga’s second album, “Born This Way,” was released in 2011, to positive reception from critics and audiences. However, her next record, “Artpop,” was released in 2013 to mixed reception.

“Cheek to Cheek,” a jazz album with Tony Bennett, was released in 2014 and was positively received. Gaga began starring in the fifth season of “American Horror Story” in 2015, and also starred in the sixth season.

Her fifth studio album, “Joanne,” was released in 2016. Two years later, she starred with Bradley Cooper in the 2018 version of “A Star Is Born.” Lady Gaga was nominated for Best Actress at the 91st Academy Awards. Though she did not win for Best Actress, the song “Shallow,” sung by Cooper and Gaga, won the award for Best Original Song.

“Chromatica” was originally planned for release on April 10, but was delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Upon release, the album peaked at the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart, which brought the singer her sixth number-one album. This helped Lady Gaga break the record for the fastest time to reach that milestone, which was previously held by Taylor Swift.

Although the album isn’t too musically diverse, each of the tracks is over-the-top and very fun to listen to.

The consistency in quality from song to song, as well as the instrumental interludes and the transitions surrounding them (especially the “Chromatica II”/“911” transition), help make “Chromatica” an incredibly listenable pop album that will have you hitting replay over and over again.