Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated sixth studio release came at the worst possible time. In a global pandemic, and just days after the murder of George Floyd, the world is hurting, feeling the injustice and institutional racism that Gaga explored in ‘Angel Down’ on her previous release Joanne. Delayed from April 19th, the album’s message of love and hope could not be more relevant than now.
Chromatica is reminiscent of Gaga’s best and most underrated releases in her fan’s eyes; 2011’s Born This Way and 2013’s Artpop have clearly paved the way for this new iteration. Though Gaga is known for dipping her toe into various genres, dance has always been in the undertones of her solo work. Another theme Gaga dives into is her mental health. Self-love doesn’t come without recognising your vulnerabilities, and on tracks like ‘Fun Tonight’, a Eurodance breakup anthem that some say explores Gaga’s tumultuous relationship with ex-fiancé Christian Carino, the star goes deep into her emotional trauma. ‘911’, a synth-pop album highlight, describes Gaga’s relationship with her anti-psychotic medication but also recognising that one of her biggest obstacles is in fact, herself. Even with 100 people in a room, if you don’t believe in yourself, you can never reach your full potential. Is Chromatica Gaga’s? It’s definitely close.
“Please listen from the beginning to the end, no need to shuffle, it’s my true story,” Gaga tweeted upon the album’s release, and this is absolutely the best way to experience the world Lady Gaga has created. It’s clear that Chromatica has been carefully curated in collaboration with producer Bloodpop to fully immerse the listener into the concept, a place where all sounds and colours mix. One of the features that make this album so seamless is the interludes – ‘Chromatica I’, ‘II’, and ‘III’, epic string-based instrumentals that blend between songs so effortlessly, they serve to build up the hype for the next banger rather than toning it down. Fans all over Twitter on release day particularly noted the satisfying way that ‘Chromatica II’ meshes into ‘911’, and these are the details that mark Gaga’s work; nothing is without thought and perfection.
Lady Gaga isn’t really one for collabs- and when she does, she goes big or goes home. Bringing in three of the biggest names in the music industry was no big deal- anyone would jump for the chance to work with one of pop’s best stars, and Ariana Grande, BLACKPINK, and Elton John were no exception. Each track is a reflection of the artists; ‘Rain on Me’ explores the pain Gaga and Grande have gone through as well as how they got through it, ‘Sour Candy’ incorporates both English and Korean for a sensually honest dance triumph, but ‘Sine From Above’ is where Gaga finds her place. Describing John as her ‘mentor’, his presence brings the song up, and his easy settling into the world of Chromatica makes for an incredible track, emotional and fulfilling. Many were concerned about John’s presence on the album, whether or not he’d be able to live up to the dance themes in 2020, but ‘Sine From Above’ quells those fears. Is Chromatica Lady Gaga’s best album yet? Most will argue not, but this is definitely one for the history books. A gift to her fans in a time when everyone wants to leave Earth for a better place, Chromatica will always be there to welcome you home. As long as home is in the club, with ‘Babylon’, ‘Plastic Doll’, or ‘Free Woman’ blasting through the speakers – that is where this album belongs, and it’s sad that it couldn’t be experienced in the way Lady Gaga intended.