As we type, Gaga – according to Gaga – is driving a U‑Haul around planet earth, delivering her sixth record to every single record store, worldwide. You see, in Chromatica – the futuristic partyland which titles and forms the setting for her new album – time and distance don’t matter, so if Gaga wants to play Santa in a pink wig, she absolutely can.
She spins a good yarn, does our Lady G and she’s also been known to spin a massive party tune. But it’s been a while – seven years, in fact – since Gaga’s music has properly got her Little Monsters dancing. All aboard the rosé-tinted rocketship.
IT’S ABOUT PARTYING THROUGH THE PAIN
“Could you pull me out of this alive? Where’s my body, I’m stuck in my mind?” – Alice
This album was spawned from a dark place. After Joanne – Gaga’s fifth album about the aunt who died before she was born – Stefani Germanotta sunk into a deep depression. Gaga made Joanne for her dad, who had struggled for decades with his sister’s death. She was trying to heal him through the music, but sadly, it didn’t work.
The realisation that she couldn’t fix her father hit hard. Gaga had long been struggling with the pressures of celebrity life and this, combined with her Joanne comedown, led to her developing mental health problems (Chromatica track 911 is about being on anti-psychotic drugs). But through it, she somehow found the strength to start work on album number six.
Rather than a repeat of the (at-times stunning) melancholy of Joanne, out poured the mother of all dance records. Through drinking, chain-smoking and serious self-reflection – Gaga has emerged happier and with a beast of a synth-pop album to share with the world. All hail the healing power of the sad banger.
FANS ARE CALLING IT ARTPOP 2
Before Joanne, there was ARTPOP, Gaga’s divisive fourth record which, broadly speaking, critics hated but fans liked. Its electro vibe, packed with campy one-liners (“Uranus, don’t you know my ass is famous”) sometimes hit the mark (Aura, Applause) and sometimees missed (Venus, G.U.Y). As we got early glimpses of the world of Chromatica, fans were quick to draw comparisons with ARTPOP: the last record that saw Gaga partying in full Gaga regalia. But there’s arguably a lot more substance to Chromatica.
Gaga has said she regrets nothing of the ARTPOP era, stating simply “the world wasn’t ready” but it feels as though Chromatica was the record she was trying to make. Whereas ARTPOP was a mess of ideas and sounds (even Gaga herself didn’t settle on one “look” for that era) Chromatica has a clear sense of purpose and a cohesion that sets it apart from her earlier work. Clearly divided into three acts, pillared by a trio of cinematic string instrumentals, Chromatica’s unwavering message is one of mending your heart with music.
IT’S MOSTLY PRODUCED BY BLOODPOP®
For this album, Gaga chose to collaborate closely with LA mega-producer Bloodpop® – formerly Blood Diamonds (yes, he’s now trademarked his own moniker) – who’s worked with Justin Bieber, Grimes, Travis Scott and even Gaga in the past, dipping into the Joanne sessions with Mark Ronson.
You could say, then, he knew what he was getting himself in for. Gaga has been known to go deep with every producer she’s worked with and the inception of this record reportedly involved a lot of talking. In a recent interview with Zane Lowe, Gaga revealed that Bloodpop® would sit and listen to her share details of her trauma and “scream” for hours before they could even begin to write a song.
ELTON’S ON A CLUB BANGER
Ariana! Blackpink! Elton! Gaga’s not short of a famous friend to call on when she needs a feature. Rain On Me is Gaga’s No Tears Left To Cry and her choice of partner is spot on. “I’d rather be dry but at least I’m alive/Rain On Me, Rain On Me,” Gaga hollers, as much a nod to the borderline alcoholism she developed while making Chromatica as her love of being a bit damp.
The Blackpink collab SourCandy is the album’s sexy song (“I’m super psycho, make you crazy when I turn the lights low”). Blackpink sound phenomenal on this track, which is sung partly in their native tongue. With K‑pop stars consistently generating staggering numbers, Gaga has surely guaranteed herself a streaming success with this one.
And then we have Elton. A long-term friend and mentor, fans have pined for an Elton Germanotta collab for some time. But nobody was expecting Elton doing a hands-in-the-air dance pop tune which climaxes with a drum ‘n’ bass break down. Sine From Above – note the spelling of sine – is about divine intervention of the musical ilk. With music being the all-healing power on this album, Gaga and Elton join forces to worship an oh-so-ravey Lord.
THE ALBUM WILL SOUNDTRACK THE SESH ONCE THIS IS ALL OVER
“We can party like it’s BC/With the pretty 16th century smile” – Babylon
Thanks to the Covid-19 crisis, the roll-out of this record has been a bit all over the place. Fans were at one point concerned that delays would keep on coming but now it’s here, you can understand why Gaga and team considered holding the album back. Chromatica is a dance record plain and simple: one to be blasted loud in clubs around the world. Those clubs might be closed right now, but in Chromatica, they’re open all night and you’re already late to the party.