Lady Gaga: Chromatica review - Empowering, Eclectic and Escapism from the Reigning Queen of Pop
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
When you've been in the music business for over a decade, it can be difficult for some artists to keep things fresh and bring new ideas to the table. Gaga's brand new album Chromatica proves that her title as the "Queen of Pop" is still truly deserved.
Serving as a follow-up to her last album Joanne, fans have had to eagerly wait for nearly four years to hear new music from the pop culture icon. The 16-track extravaganza, which boasts collaborations with Ariana Grande, BlackPink and Elton John, feels more like an immersive listening experience than just another assortment of music.
Listeners are introduced to the album by what feels like a piece of a film score. Chromatica I is very cinematic and orchestral, and the use of strings is particularly special. In a swift and clever transition, Alice features a beautiful combination of layers and harmonies and a 'naughty' beat to create a fantastic electric-pop track. It's a real 90s throwback and features great, original work from one of Gaga's featured producers, BloodPop.
The album's first single Stupid Love serves as the third track and gave the world a taste of Gaga's brand new era back in March. It was a great introduction to her sixth album, made from a combination of disco and dance-pop. Again, it's another fantastic collaboration with Max Martin, who is possibly one of the best pop songwriters/producers of the 21st Century.
Next, we have Rain on Me, undoubtedly the 2020 song of the summer. The French house music infusion works in Gaga's favour, giving lots of 90s nostalgia. The chemistry and blending of her and Grande's vocals are impressive and powerful, proving that the pair are the reigning Queen and Princess of Pop. Free Woman features great storytelling in the lyrics. It's feminist and empowering, and very much reminiscent of Gaga's older music. It's another brilliant song to dance to in the club or even the confines of your bedroom.
Fun Tonight is very different from the tracks heard previously - a nice change of pace. It feels like a song that audiences will enjoy singing along to on her tour, which is supposed to be starting near the end of July in Paris (it feels like a bit of a pipe dream at this moment in time though). Chromatica II is a continuation of the previous track and includes a similar orchestral feel. It also includes a fabulous transition into the album's eighth track, 911. The use of the vocoder in this song is fun, and the track features a great, electronic piano beat. It's a little bit messy and disjointed but it matches the song's message of fantasy and enthusiasm.
Production is something Gaga really cares about, and the transitions throughout this album are pleasing and clever. Plastic Doll is another that features one of these amazing transitions and feels like a fan favourite. You can really hear Skrillex's influence within the construction of the track, and once again the use of layers and harmonies is stunning. It's followed by the next big collab from Chromatica, Sour Candy, which features K-Pop girl group Blackpink. The beat is very reminiscent of the 2016 deep-house collaboration 'Girls Like' between Tinie Tempah and Zara Larsson, which is a great dance-pop track just like Sour Candy. It's completely dazzling and sure to be played in clubs all over the world.
Enigma feels very similar to Stupid Love but instead with an injection of 90s dance and house instead of electro-pop. The use of brass instruments from the second chorus is really nice and continues to pick the pace of the album back up after a bit of a slow block in the middle. Replay is a mixture of disco and dance-pop and is a real throwback to 90s house music. Despite a bit of change in genre, this is sure to be another favourite with fans.
Chromatica III is the final piece of the instrumental feature and transitions masterly into Sine from Above. It doesn't particularly sound like a track for the legend that is Elton John but he fits in perfectly. The harmonies between Gaga and John are excellent, and you can really hear the influence of producers Ryan Tedder and Sebastian Ingrosso with the piano beat and superb drop in the chorus. This song discusses the healing power of music and feels like the perfect song to blast out of huge speakers at a festival. The track's ending takes the song on a whole different turn and it's just awesome.
1000 Doves is an uplifting and empowering track that features a terrific beat-drop in the chorus. It falls straight into the category of house music and another dance-worthy piece of music - a further fan favourite. The album closes with Babylon, which is very reminiscent of the late 80s/early 90s house music. The use of the choir as a backing vocal is awesome and feels like the perfect song to "Vogue" to (I can already imagine the choreography on tour is going to be exceptional). It's a magnificent way to finish and wraps up the high-octane energy of the album in perfect fashion.
Chromatica is a triumph and completely special. It proves that after exploring country-rock almost four years ago, Gaga is versatile and can tackle any genre with ease. The influence of 80s and 90s dance/electro-pop is sensational and the icon has truly created the album of the summer. It's a superlative escape within a world currently overcast with uncertainty and darkness.