The dance floor was calling to global superstar Lady Gaga. Not just the heavy, Eurobeat of old, but an abundant dose of House music. This quintessential figure of a generation has delved into a fair few styles, to say the least: Jazz, Country, Pop…it goes on. However, the flickering, mirrored light of the spinning disco ball always calls her back, and this is exactly where she’s gone for sixth studio album Chromatica.
We’d be here all day if we start listing her successes so far. This girl has done it all, winning awards left right and centre; her latest, an Oscar for Best Original Song, Shallow, from blockbuster A Star is Born. With a movie ticked off her list, we now see our petit powerhouse returning to her roots, this time she is going one step further... as she does. She's created a whole new planet: Chromatica. Although this is a place, it also represents a frame of mind, where an outpouring of emotion enabled a healing process for her.
Our introduction to this new land is the euphoric and boppy single Stupid Love, where it’s purely explained, ‘I want just to be loved.” In the colourful video, the dystopian Kindness Punks fight for peace and win. The sweetness continues, and our first duet arrives with Ariana Grande: Rain On Me. The synth game is full, and the harsher rap vocals of Gaga work beside the swirly tones of Grande. We willingly hear influences of France’s finest Cassius and the Daft Punks throughout the record.
Three orchestral instrumentals are included, Chromatic I, II, and III. After III, 911 begins with a harder techno beat coming into play, reminding us of early Gaga; this would not be out of place blearing loud on a pumping waltzer at the fair. Her voice is distorted, showing her range too, with layered sci-fi effects as she confesses, ‘my biggest enemy is me.’ This banging piece is one of the best tracks on the record. In our next duet Sour Candy, Lady G links with BLACKPINK bringing a 90’s riff back.
Enigma heads to the uplifting piano end of business explaining how it’s ok to push boundaries by being misunderstood. There are no ballads to be found, even for the third and final duet Sine From Above, with Elton John. Not our usual John style, but it curiously works and even flirts with a bit of drum and bass. Last track, the robust Babylon, offers gratitude to rave culture by sampling that famous bird-like sound bite made famous by 808 State’s Pacific State. It progresses to a voguesque attitude and gospel choir backing, signalling that our visit to planet Chromatica is at an end.
This pop concept piece adds to Lady Gaga’s spectacular back catalogue; everything she does is quality. Out of sixteen tracks, some are massively well-built, and it's highly commendable, but this isn’t quite her masterpiece. What she manages to do in every song, is to use her gift of singing like she is telling a story, just to you, showing real magic. Her Little Monsters are going wild for this, and its popularity is staggering. This may just be the encouraging, honest getaway that we need at the moment.
Article by Beverley Knight