”This is my dance floor, I fought for” Lady Gaga proclaims on the Chromatica track, “Free Woman.” With this collection of club-ready anthems, it’s hard not to take her statement more seriously than right now. Coming off of a successful acting stint in the A Star is Born film, the interest in her music couldn’t have been any higher. Lady Gaga has answered the call in a big way with one of her more immediate records to date and has taken full advantage of the spotlight. This album was produced by BloodPop (Michael Tucker) and Gaga herself, and the singer’s return to pop music feels as refreshing as ever. The record also features several A-lister collaborations with Ariana Grande, Elton John, and BLACKPINK that further enhance the synth-pop direction Gaga was going for.
The album is segmented into three chapters, of sorts, with the title track introducing the beginning of each part with an instrumental song with a similar sounding reprieve. “Alice” opens this first part with plenty of Alice in Wonderland imagery and metaphors. It’s on this opener that Lady Gaga admits that she is, “Sick and tired of waking up / Screaming at the top of my lungs / Think I might have just left myself behind / Maestro, play me your symphony / I will listen to anything / Take me on a trip, DJ, free my mind.” It’s clear that she wants to leave her worries behind and vibe to the dance-worthy songs that frequent this album.
”Stupid Love” follows the opener with some heavy synth-dripped backing sounds that bleed away for a satisfying chorus. Gaga hints to some of the ghosts of her past in the second verse when she sings, “Now it’s time to free me from the shame / I gotta find that peace, is it too late / Or could this love protect me from the pain? / I would battle for you (Even if we break in two).” The deeply personal lyrics are wrapped in a pop-pleasing fashion that doesn’t bring the music down to the level of the heartbreaking words. Overall, the majority of these songs on Chromatica are enriched with brightly colored backing music with lyrics that showcase an artist struggling with her past.
”Rain on Me” is the first collaborative song in the sequencing of the album, and features some great guest vocals courtesy of Ariana Grande. The two female vocalists trade verses on this radio single, and it leads to an early crescendo of pop bliss. Lyrics such as, “Living in a world where no one’s innocent / Oh, but at least we try / Gotta live my truth, not keep it bottled in / So I don’t lose my mind,” ring as true as they’ve ever been in Gaga’s career. Her advice to herself is hard to live up to, as she opens up a ton of old wounds in the process. For example, on “Fun Tonight” Gaga continues along her path of recovery as she reflects on her past music, as well as the relationships inspired by it. When she sings, “You love the paparazzi, love the fame / Even though you know it causes me pain / I feel like I’m in a prison hell / Stick my hands through the steel bars and yell,” it’s hard to not be on her side as she continues to pour out her emotions.
Things seem to reach a boiling point on “911” as Lady Gaga navigates over the programmed beat with some robotic-sounding vocals in the verses. She mentions, “My biggest enemy is me, pop a 911,” and her reflective approach to dealing with all the shit she’s experienced is heartbreaking, yet she continues to power on. “Plastic Doll” on the other hand has her describing herself on a cosmetic level, while the deeper meanings behind her lyrics paint a picture of a person demanding to be seen for more than just what’s on the outside.
”Sour Candy” brings the dance floor vibes back in a hurry with some guest vocals from BLACKPINK. Gaga continues to bring up the points made earlier of looking past her outside appearance when she sings, “I’m hard on the outside / But if you give me time / Then I could make time for your love / I’m hard on the outside / But if you see inside, inside, inside.” Lady Gaga wants people to dig a little deeper as they listen to her words. “Enigma” and “Replay” close out this chapter of the album with some self-reflective lyrics, but with more optimism on moving on with her life.
”Sine From Above” begins the last part of the trilogy of Chromatica with Elton John trading vocal duties with Gaga. Each pop superstar reflects on their past, but it’s clear from both of their lyrics that they are coming to terms with everything that made them who they are today. Especially on Elton John’s verse of, “When I was young, I felt immortal / And not a day went by without a struggle / I lived my days just for the nights / I lost myself under the lights / When I was young, I felt immortal,” he opens up on his demons that feature Gaga’s vocals in the background to echo his sentiments. The song feels huge as a pop anthem, and it will likely be released as a single at some point for more exposure.
”1000 Doves” finds Gaga heartbroken, possibly from her recent failed engagement, where she states, “I’m completely lonely, please don’t judge me.” Fans of the pop royalty will likely heed to her wishes and let her learn from these experiences to grow into the person she wants to become. “Babylon” closes out the album with a song structure similar to the spoken word and sung parts of Madonna’s “Vogue,” yet doesn’t quite match the heights of the earlier material.
In many ways, this album is a metamorphosis of an artist breaking free from her past demons and still living to tell the tale. The record’s main faults are that sometimes the songs blend to close to each other stylistically, but there is plenty of great moments to enjoy all over on Chromatica. Gaga wants everyone to see her as human as everyone else, but she has been blessed with some incredible vocal gifts that make her stand out among the best of the pop personalities in the music world. One thing is for sure, Lady Gaga’s return to pop music is never boring.