Lady Gaga brought back her quintessential sound with the release of her sixth studio album – Chromatica. Her last album released in 2016 – Joanne, was a strikingly personal record signifying Gaga’s vocals merely backed by raw instrumentation. Two years later, the box-office hit, A Star Is Born, further displayed her capabilities as a singer and an actor. The musical similarities between Joanne and Gaga’s music featured in A Star is Born , however, doesn’t crossover into the era of Chromatica. Chromatica runs parallel to the whimsical olden days of her synth-pop records, ARTPOP and The Fame.
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In Chromatica, while characteristically Gaga, her voice is no longer masqueraded by the upbeat rhythms of progressive pop. Prior to the release of this highly anticipated record, the lead single Stupid Love garnered an overwhelming response from her loyal audience since it was sonically representative of Lady Gaga’s golden era. Rain On Me, the second single, saw an unexpected collaboration with Ariana Grande. As bubbly as it sounds, the song exemplifies the artists’ liberation through heartbreak and seeking solace in turmoil. Their voices blend together in pure synchrony and splendor; with Gaga’s raw, powerful vocals merging seamlessly into Ariana’s soft croons. The third promotional single, Sour Candy, rocked the K-Pop world when Lady Gaga featured one of K-Pop’s biggest girl bands, BLACKPINK.
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The album kicks off with an instrumental piece resembling a string quartet. Slow and symphonic, like a calm before the storm, titled Chromatica I, with the additions of Chromatica II and Chromatica III, dividing the full-length album into three sections. Remarkable is the transition of these preludes and interludes into the next track. It is almost sanctimonious seeing as Chromatica doesn’t comprise of a slow tempo song in an album of consecutive pop – electronic songs. Even with the archetype Gaga music, her roaring vocals and transparency in writing give us the ‘crying in the club’ sensation. The album is far from being cohesive.
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In the opening track, Alice, followed by the prelude, she talks about her struggle with fame and the need to find her own Wonderland, associating this with the popular novel Alice in Wonderland. The sheer approach in her lyrics is recurrent throughout her album, the likes of which can be seen in Free Woman, 911 and Plastic Doll. Whether it is her scrimmage with alcohol or medications (911), the recurrent infliction she bears due to her PTSD (Replay), her confinement in the industry as merely a pop star (Plastic Doll), the essence of Gaga is duly prevalent throughout Chromatica. Sir Elton John also had a feature in the angelic referenced track, Sine from above. Together they ardently serenade us with the emancipation they receive from music amid their frequent attempts to get a ‘sign from above’.
Listen to Chromatica on YouTube
Chromatica can easily be considered as one of Lady Gaga’s best works. After her detour with Joanne and A Star is Born, the commendable attempt to revisit and reform her signature sound into an album worthy of standing alone.
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