TOP reviews ALBUM “Chromatica”, Lady Gaga, Released May 29, 2020
Chromatica is Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album, released on May 29, 2020 via Interscope Records. On March 2, 2020, Gaga originally announced the title of the album and its release date of April 10, but on March 24, she announced the album would be postponed due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. On May 6, Gaga confirmed the final release date of May 29.
On April 22, 2020, Gaga revealed the complete tracklist for the album and announced collaborations with Ariana Grande, Elton John and BLACKPINK on some of the tracks.
A deluxe version of the album was released alongside Chromatica, featuring “Love Me Right” and remixes of some tracks.
Its lead single, “Stupid Love,” was released on February 28, peaking at number five on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Official Singles Chart Top 100 chart.
Its second single, “Rain on Me,” a collaboration with Ariana Grande, was released on May 22, 2020.
“Sour Candy,” a collaboration with the Korean girl group BLACKPINK, was released as a promotional single on May 28, 2020, a day before the release of the album.
TOP reviews ALBUM “Chromatica”, Lady Gaga, Released May 29, 2020
There are a few artists I consider close to my heart and Lady Gaga is one of them. Her first two efforts, The Fame and The Fame Monster, both came out when I was in my early 20’s and it was a particular time I look back very fondly on. Born This Way was what I consider a fully realized evolution of Lady Gaga after exploding with The Fame. Admittedly it took me a few years to get into Artpop, but once I did, I really loved it. Cheek to Cheek I adored, it was a really awesome collab with Tony and Lady Gaga singing out worked very well.
So that lands us on Joanne. Joanne was the only album I can say didn’t fully land for me. While there were good songs and the whole concept was a very meaningful thing, I felt it was a half embraced direction. You could tell Gaga was struggling, and she was self admittedly. You can check my review of it on my Profile page.
So this lands us on Chromatica, Lady Gaga’s much anticipated follow up four years after Joanne and it is a return to form. I was excited when I heard the lead single Stupid Love and it brought Gaga back to her roots. If you were worried, there is nothing to fear, this is no throw back cash in. You can hear Gaga has grown since her last foray in this electronica sphere with Artpop. The production is fantastic, the music is great and Gaga sounds excellent. It is a very crisp album.
Chromatica may also be the most cohesive album to date from Lady Gaga. The songs all gel very well together and the musical theme just flows. There is no jarring style change throughout the album and that isn’t to say the album is boring or predictable, quite the contrary. The album was crafted so well, it’s over before you know it and that’s with 16 tacks. Ariana Grande and BlackPink are a nice addition(salty Black Jack here, wished 2NE1 could have done this as their style fits Gaga’s so well, sadly they were disbanded) to Rain On Me and Sour Candy. However, Elton John’s presence on Sine From Above really brings that song to the next level. Elton and Gaga sound great together and his singing is powerful.
The album features some deeply personal lyrics for Gaga and it’s pretty apparent. Chromatica marries The Fame’s synth and dance beats, mixed with a touch of the more complex compositions of Born This Way, without sounding overly busy like some of Artpop and Joanne. The beauty really is the more simplistic approach to the music; the 80’s synths, 90’s techno, thumping bass, with soaring vocals and fun electronica. The Chromatica I, II and III all have great orchestral sound to them and each introduces the phases of the album.
Chromatica, to me, really shows Gaga embrace the sound that put her on the world stage, the sound she seemed to be running from for more than half a decade. Gaga shows that she can continue to evolve that sound without it getting tired or dated. In doing so, Gaga has single-handedly moved her genre forward and raised herself up a level at the same time.
Welcome back Lady Gaga.
I’ve listened to the album a few times since I first got it, so this review has more or less been rewritten:
This is the 4th or 5th time I’ve edited this review. Chromatica is the first Gaga album since Born This Way that left an immediate impression. It’s comparable to Born This Way in that Chromatica has a solid point to it. It’s her in pain, depressed, trying to find a way to heal herself through house-influenced dance music. It’s sound is rooted in both the 80s and the 90s while remaining contemporary. And it knows what it is. Where Born This Way was an anthem for the world at large to inspire, Chromatica turns inward with a focus to self recovery. It’s the healing wound of Artpop, a return to the dance scene after 7 years absent.
I like this album quite a bit. I think the Giger-influenced visuals are arresting, I think a good chunk of the songs are strong and retain elasticity in that on repeated listenings, they don’t break. A step up from Joanne, a work that had moments of punch amid the less interesting genres shifts. Joanne isn’t bad by any means, but next to Chromatica, I feel it loses a lot of shine.
There are a few missteps here and there, but those songs are nice enough to where one might not skip over them. Fun Tonight feels a little anticlimatic, Replay is a bit on the strange side and in the same vein as Fashion! from Artpop, and Babylon has a chorus that is obviously a riff on Vogue. An unapologetic one, as well. She’s trolling media, Madonna fans, or us. Maybe all, who knows. It’s about as subtle as a nut punch and hilarious to boot. The one thing I DO like about Babylon is the pun behind the title. “That’s gossipe, babble-on.”
I do consider it a misstep because like Fun Tonight, while effective in it’s own regard, didn’t fall in line with the rest of the material.
My favorite tracks are Alice, Free Woman, 911 – though the chorus is a bit underwhelming, Plastic Doll, Sour Candy, Sine From Above, and 1000 Doves. Alice is immediate and huge. It goes great as a companion with Stupid Love, much like how Free Woman fits nicely next to Rain On Me. 911 is classic Gaga, weird and somewhat sinister, with synths that sound like a callback to Born This Way. Also works well with the Giger-inspired fleshly visuals. We all know what the cd case back looks like, it’s hard to miss it. Plastic Doll’s chorus is like a mini-explosion. It’s beautiful and compliments the beautiful vocal delivery. There’s so much emotion in her voice in this song alone.
Sour Candy is sugary and shimmery while both Sine From Above and 1000 Doves are somber and contemplative. There’s nothing bad on this album and gets better and better the more you listen to it. I don’t see myself stopping any time soon and am rotating it along with other Gaga albums. The lyrics are surprisingly deep considering the glistening, bright music framing them.
I don’t know, this one might not resonate immediately like past Gaga albums. When Born This Way came out, people complained that it wasn’t their Gaga. When Artpop came out, they did the same thing, as well as Joanne. I’d like to say this will grow on those who are on the fence initially, because it’s her best album in years. Also doing REALLY well, too, on the charts. Rain on Me is her first number 1 debut since Born This Way, a very smart follow up single to Stupid Love that didn’t seem to make much of an impact. A shame, because that song is just as good.
Edit: Seems like a lot of people are saying this album is either dated or underwhelming. Gaga intentionally went with a 80s/90s house influence, so I guess a lot of people can’t appreciate it based on current musical taste trends. Suddenly Joanne is better when Joanne was hated when it came out. Personally, I think this album has much more immediate hooks than either Artpop or Joanne. They vocals are soaring, the songs glisten and sparkle. I stand by what I say. Maybe in time others will find they like it better.
Little Monsters who love the dance-song Gaga can relish in this all-dance album! No ballads here, but the three “Chromatica” tracks (I, II & III) are composed of lush, symphonic strings laced with horns, which lead seamlessly into the next song on each occasion.\
Elton John is in fine form on “Sine From Above,” singing in a strong lower register while Gaga grips a harmonic upper register. The result works extremely well, as odd as it may seem hearing Elton singing on a dance track.
And on “Plastic Doll,” rhyming Gaga with saga? Mmmwah!
Excellent top-notch arrangements and production are evident throughout Chromatica. Most of the songs are short – a handful packing a lot of dance pop punch in under three minutes. Longtime fans will not be disappointed; all listeners will want to get up and dance to the pounding beats!
I find myself in a precarious position when it comes to reviewing Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga). Do I experience her as an anachronism, or, as someone fresh and new? You see, I grew up with Madonna, who, in my not so humble opinion, beat Lady Gaga to the musical punch. From the beginning, with “The Fame” in 2008, I feel Gaga has not stepped out from under the long shadow Madonna has cast. Madonna was nothing special when she started in 1983, and her first three albums “Madonna” (1983), “Like a Virgin” (1984) and “True Blue” (1986) are all fluff at best, with some great memorable songs. However, in 1989, when Madonna released “Like a Prayer” she changed the game.
What has Lady Gaga done? “Joanne”? “Artpop”? Even “The Fame/The Fame Monster” and “Born This Way” can’t hold a candle to Madonna’s experiments in dance pop. I draw this comparison because without Madonna, Lady Gaga wouldn’t be all that interesting or unique on her own. Gaga has yet to deliver a five star album (or even a four star album, really). I feel she recycles rather than creates. Enter “Chromatica”. Nothing new here. Nothing innovative or original. Recycled Madonna beats and Donna Summer vocals with some guest appearances.
Here’s the deal: Overall, “Chromatica” is lite fun even though the subjects are painful. The trouble is the music. With so much recycling going on and not enough originality or daring do, “Chromatica” is merely pleasant fodder.
The good: “Free Woman”, “Fun Tonight”, “Plastic Doll”, “Sine From Above” and “1000 Doves”. All of these songs have solid hooks and decent lyrics. They aren’t as recycled as some other songs such as…..
The mediocre: “Alice”, “Stupid Love”, “Rain on Me”. These songs may seduce you into believing they’re great, but really, they aren’t as good as the songs I listed above. Yet, two of them are hit singles. Go figure.
The bad: “911”, “Sour Candy”, “Enigma”, “Replay” and “Babylon”. These songs are either annoying, irritating, or silly. Gaga dropped the quality control here.
The trivial: “Chromatica I, II, III”. Segues are supposed to inform, no pad, and album. These three interludes should have been left off. They add nothing to the ‘theme’ or overall effect of the album.
So, once again, we have a Gaga album that, on its surface, seems appealing enough, but really, it leaves no significant cultural impression. This is not “Like a Prayer”, “Ray of Light” or “Music”, and not even “American Life”. I’d like to make a recommendation to Gaga, but honestly, I’m not sure what advice I’d give her. Sometimes I have a strong opinion about an artist and what would make things better, but with Gaga, it’s a hot mess.
Here’s how “Chromatica” compares with other Gaga titles:
2008 The Fame: Three and a Half Stars
2011 Born This Way: Three and a Half Stars
2013 Artpop: Three Stars
2016 Joanne: Three Stars
2020 Chromatica: Three Stars