Just Some Thoughts On Chromatica
I am a huge Lady Gaga fan. I was totally swept up in the mania and excitement at what outrageous outfit she was going to wear next or how long the next movie music video would be when uploaded to YouTube. As a teenager, 'Speechless' was one of those songs I learned on the piano to impress people like 'Someone Like You' and 'A Thousand Miles'.
When 'Stupid Love' was released earlier in the year I loved it instantly. Though I have enjoyed most of Gaga's repertoire, I feel that there is nothing she does better than a pure pop banger. I was SO excited when I heard this song and was not disappointed by Chromatica when it was released on Friday. I basically wanted to share with you some of my favourite moments from the album.
'Chromatica' opens with a beautiful orchestral fanfare (which the eagle-eared of you might recognise from the Stupid Love music video) which sets the tone of the album beautifully. The album overall is very electronic-dance sounding but somehow the orchestral interludes don't seem out of place. In fact, one of my highlights was the transition from 'Chromatica II' into '911'. Absolutely stunning. The orchestral moments also build to and conclude beautifully into 'Sine From Above' towards the end of the album.
Throughout the album there is a strong theme of positivity and empowerment. Every song has a message about self love or just the notion of something 'better'. This paired with the upbeat dance production makes for an incredible pick-me-up of an experience when you listen to it in its entirety. The main credited producer on the album is 'BloodPop' who you may recognise from Justin Bieber's big hit in 2015 'Sorry'. Another largely credited producer is 'Axwell' from the Swedish House Mafia. This album was always going to be EDM-dance focused to give it a sense of escapism. Gaga really did decide that ballads were illegal in 2020 and I'm on board.
The album's first dance song is 'Alice' which is about trying to find Wonderland even if it doesn't always seem easy. I think this song is one of the best examples of this album managing to be nostalgic and fresh at the same time. The beat of 'Alice' makes me want to do a mash-up of this with Haddaway's 'What Is Love' but that chorus is Gaga all over. It's 90s Eurodance but also contemporary which is something I am always on board with. Although lyrically quite simple, this song is extremely effective and sets the tone for the album wonderfully.
Two songs that really stood out to me as something intrinsically Gaga were 'Plastic Doll' and 'Babylon'. Gaga has often written very conceptual songs to portray her message clearer. 'The Fame: Monster' had its share, including 'Alejandro' and a strange fave of mine 'Judas'. 'Plastic Doll' and 'Babylon' truly felt like the updated versions of these and stay conceptual without sounding gimmicky. Another thing that made 'Babylon' in particular stand out to me is the production; it really sounds like Gaga is leaning into the constant comparisons to Madonna over her career. Babylon sounds like 'Vogue' and I won't be the first or last person to make that comparison, but to me it felt like a response to years of comparison and I loved every second of it. That being said, the song has a wonderful gospel ending that gives a triumphant finish to the album.
Another thing this album does stunningly well is collaboration. Each song feels like it was tailored to showcase the collaborator at their finest. 'Sine From Above' has a larger orchestral feel than some of the other tracks at the start which makes Elton John's place on the track feel welcome. The pair feel comfortable singing about the healing powers of music and the strength of two giants of music makes its message extremely convincing. I was not expecting the drum and bass breakdown at the end of the track, but it caught me off guard in the best way possible. A lot of the elements of this track shouldn't work but somehow do.
'Sour Candy' is Gaga's collaboration with K-pop giants BlackPink. Words cannot express how happy I was when I heard this track for the first time. I'm sure like many people, when it was announced that they would collaborate I was skeptical about how much they would feature in the track and how well their strengths would be utilised. 'Sour Candy' is the collaboration between Western pop and K-pop we need and deserve. This song feels like a true combination of each artist and honestly sounds like something either could have released independently of one another. Plus, the girls get to SING IN KOREAN. This truly was a marriage of both styles and artists and I hope we can get more collaborations like this in the future.
Finally, the second single from the album was 'Rain On Me' with Ariana Grande. This song is just everything. I feel like both choices of singles to release were the right ones, but particularly so with 'Rain On Me'. I don't know if I can really say what I love about this song except that I just love it. Both Gaga and Grande sound amazing on it and again it sounds like a perfect combination of the two where either artist could release this as a solo and it would make sense. It just makes me feel ready to face anything that the world could throw at me which is definitely the kind of music we need right now. It does feel like it could have been placed differently on the album as a whole but that is just because it truly is so good that nothing else can quite match it after. As a single, it works and packs all of the power you'd expect. Also, the music video has had me dreaming of white eyeliner for weeks now.
This album was clearly intended to be a dance smash, and I have seen numerous people comment on how much of a shame it is that it will not get the reception it deserves now that clubbing is suspended for the time being. However, that was on Earth, and we live on planet Chromatica now so we can just dance away as badly as we like in our own homes. Nothing can take away from the positive message and happy feeling you get when listening to it. The honest lyrics and messages paired with the tight production on each track makes it formidable. Gaga herself has stated this is an experience to be listened through in order, and who am I to argue? Would recommend listening to Chromatica whilst sitting in the sun and eating an ice-cream, it worked well for me.
Basically, I love Gaga and I loved this album. It truly was the reminder we needed that no matter how bad things can get, at least we have music.
A lot of the same producers and collaboraters that feature on 'Chromatica' also feature on Gaga's 2013 album ARTPOP. If you haven't had enough of a Gaga fix and you're interested in re-visiting ARTPOP in more depth, check out this awesome video by Mic The Snare (here's hoping he does a video about Chromatica soon too):