In 2008 Gaga emerged into the world of pop music and nothing was the same again! Now 12 years later she is about to release her latest album Chromatica, to celebrate, I thought I’d write about how I became a fan and giving a short recap of her career so far.
‘Just Dance’ was Gaga’s first big hit and also the first single from her debut album ‘The Fame’ (fun fact it’s “RedOne” the tracks producer that she shouts at the start of the song not “Red Wine”) ‘The Fame’ is about well fame. the good the bad and ugliness of it. I was absolutely obsessed with ‘Poker Face’ the follow up single, which has one of the catchiest pop choruses, combined with a genius Boney M sampled “Ma Ma Ma” hook!
It was however the VMA Performance of Paparazzi which cemented my status from casual fan to hardcore fan! I’d never seen anything like it – it was shocking, entertaining and Gaga’s Voice was INCREDIBLE. I also was very touched that she used her platform to thank the gay community dedicating her VMA win to “God and the Gays”, which is a good precursor to the great LGBTQ activism she would later be involved in.
‘The Fame Monster’ technically Gaga’s second LP was released a year after her debut album, I say technically as the album was in most places tacked on to ‘The Fame’ as a deluxe edition. Gaga requested the album was also released separately as she believed the 8 track record stood as a separate body of work. These 8 songs each represent a different metaphorical ‘Monster’ in Gaga’s life eg fear of love and fear of death. This album contains my favourite Gaga track of all time, ‘Bad Romance’ which is in my mind pop perfection. The song combines catchy melodies, dark lyrics, a killer bridge and also manages to name check 3 Alfred Hitchcock films! (Iconic)
The Gaga/Motorcycle hybrid combined with super 80s style text album cover will probably go down as one of the most controversial album covers of the 2010s! The cover taken from Gaga’s 3rd album ‘Born This Way’ really split the fanbase, I personally do like the cover it’s strange, and incorporates the 80s feel of the album. Title track ‘Born This Way’ is an empowering anthem of self love and includes a shout out to the LGBTQ community. On release ‘Born This Way’ was criticised by certain people as pandering to the LGBTQ community, which I completely disagree with. Even just back in 2011 when the album was released LGBTQ rights were not where they are now, gay marriage wasn’t legalised in the UK until 2014 after all.
Some may question why hearing positive LGBTQ lyrics in a pop song is that important, but just think about how many places pop music is played, shops, restaurants, the radio ; for anyone struggling with their sexuality or gender identity to be told you are perfect as you are is very comforting message.
Themes of self love and empowerment are weaved throughout the rest of the ‘Born This Way’ album, on ‘Hair’ Gaga sings “I just wanna be myself,And I want you to love me for who I am”, Scheiße’ is a female empowerment anthem about wishing to be confident in yourself and ‘Marry The Night’ is about taking on your own demons. Other highlights include the controversial super catchy ‘Judas’, Lesbian love song ‘Americano’ and my favourite of the album ‘The Edge of Glory” inspired by her grandparents love.
Born This Way’ is personally my favourite album of Gaga’s as I’m sucker for 80s style music, the concept of reinvention, rebelling against a society that sometimes makes you feel you don’t fit in and it’s empowering message of self love.
“I don’t remember ARTPOP” Gaga tweeted last year referencing her 4th album, which wasn’t Gaga’s smoothest album cycle to say the least! The album came only 6 months after Gaga broke her hip and had to prematurely end her Born This Way Ball Tour. After the first single ‘Applause’, Gaga and her team had planned to release ‘Venus’ as the next single off of ARTPOP, but when Promo single ‘Do What U Want’ started gaining traction they decided to release the latter as the second single. The video that was shot for ‘DWUW’ was never released as it was too controversial and in hindsight was the best thing considering the featured artist on the track (the song has now been taken off streaming platforms and removed from any new CDs/vinyls)
Anyway…Even though there were issues with the rollout of the ARTPOP cycle I do still like album and don’t think it deserved the harsh reception it got from critics. I also appreciated how Gaga released a final music video mainly for fans – “G.U.Y (An ARTPOP Film)”, which featured songs ‘ARTPOP’, ‘Venus’ and ‘G.U.Y.’
Gaga went for a singer-songwriter approach for her next solo studio album Joanne which was released after Gaga’s jazz collaboration (Cheek to Cheek) with Tony Bennet. The album’s title track ‘Joanne’ comes from the name of Gaga’s late aunt and the song deals with her father’s loss of losing his sister begging ‘Joanne’ to stay with the lyric “Girl where do you think you’re going?”. Another popular song off the record ‘Million Reasons’ is a country inspired ballad about a relationship that is near breaking point but the song’s character will stay if give one good reason over a million not to. Some fans were a bit disappointed due to Gaga’s departure from electro-pop on this record, but I’m glad it exists as I enjoy vulnerability and stripped backness of this record.
Now it’s almost time to go to Chromatica! ‘Chromatica’ Gaga’s latest album comes off the success of her role in Bradley Cooper’s ‘A Star Is Born’ and promises a return to the electro pop sound of her early career. The highly danceable first single ‘Stupid Love’ highlights is a precursor to the fun, feel good record that Gaga is serving up this time. ‘Rain On Me’ the second single featuring Ariana Grande (another fave of mine) was released two days ago as of writing and is getting a great response, seems like the perfect uplifting song for these current times.
Other collaborations to look forward to on ‘Chromatica’ include ‘Sour Candy’ featuring Korean group Blackpink and pop legend Elton John on ‘Sine From Above’, Sine referencing a sine wave the mathematical symbol for sound. A sine wave is also found on the album cover for ‘Chromatica’ as Gaga found that making the music healed her, Gaga said in recent interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music regarding the album “I’m making a dance record again. And this dance floor, it’s mine and I earned it. And all that stuff that I went through, I don’t have to feel pain about it anymore. It can just be a part of me, and I can keep going.”
I’m sure the album will be brilliant (it is a Gaga record after all) hopefully this album will also provide some healing for others just as ‘Born This Way’ helped me.
I leave you with the tag line of the album, a simple but lovely message.
“In Chromatica no one thing is greater than another” – Lady Gaga