The Journey to CHROMATICA - Review
“Little Monsters,” I have one question for you: are we still alive? This is the question I ask myself every morning since the release of Lady Gaga’s long-anticipated sixth studio album, Chromatica (2020). As a long-time “Little Monster” myself (my first album that was gifted to me when I was 9-years-old was The Fame (2008)), I have been waiting for the release of this album since her last release, Joanne (2016). In the 4 years between albums, Gaga has been experimenting with other ventures and venues, like her Oscar-nominated performance in the film A Star is Born and Las Vegas strip residency show, Enigma. After all of that, “Mother Monster” is back to her roots with a new pop dance album that will make you wish that clubs were still open. After an experimental genre change to a more country/folk-rock style in Joanne, Gaga is back giving her fans the music that made them fall in love with her (like the entirety of Born this Way (2011) or The Fame Monster (2009)). In my discussion of the album, I like to split it up into the three acts because each has its own storyline and vibe. Blast off to Chromatica in 3…2…1!
Each act of the album starts with an instrumental interlude (titled “Chromatica I, II, and III”), which is something that has not been done on any of her previous albums. “Chromatica I” is the perfect overture and sets the tone for the album right away. We are landing on Chromatica, ready for the journey ahead. It transitions right into “Alice,” which is a play on the beginning of Alice’s journey to Wonderland. We have started to explore the terrain now, where we are introduced to the different tribes of Chromatica in her first single off the album, “Stupid Love.” This is the song that got me excited for her new era, and the music video told a story that left us gagged and questioning what was next. The next single, “Rain on Me,” was another strong track with current pop diva Ariana Grande. When I first heard that Gaga was going to team up with Ari for a single in this era, I developed strong hopes for it. It surely did not disappoint, and the music video was even better than the song, in my opinion. “Free Woman” and “Fun Tonight” are the last two songs in this act and although they were not singles, they are as strong (if not stronger) than the single tracks. They’re good tracks to listen to in the summer when you’re driving with your windows rolled down and sunroof open, and are a good end to the first act.
Even a month after the album has been out, my favorite act of the album is still the second. This is the section with the rawest lyrics and the strongest beats. “Chromatica II” is my favorite of the interludes, and the transition to “911” was the only transition on the album to have me wanting to throw my phone across the room. This track took me by surprise because of its truthful lyrics and its aggressive pop-synth style that brought me back to the songs on her fourth studio album, ARTPOP (2013). That album was so under appreciated at the time, so I’m glad she brought it back in this track on this album. My personal favorite track on Chromatica, “Plastic Doll,” is next and all I’m gonna say is that if we don’t get a Barbie-inspired music video for this song, she lost a prime opportunity to give us everything we needed. “Sour Candy” with the KPOP group BLACKPINK was a cute addition to the album, and “Enigma” also caught my attention with its inspiring lyrics and uplifting melody. A current favorite among “Little Monsters” is the last song of the act, “Replay.” It’s ironic this is a fan-favorite, because the lyrics, like the other tracks in the second act, talk of the scars that Gaga has from the hate that she receives from her haters and fans alike. The entire second act of this album is my favorite because it’s her story about being used and manipulated and scarred from the pressures that the industry has put on her. Her stories are what draw fans to her in the first place, so I’m glad she’s still telling us her truth with this album.
As the journey winds down, the third act is the shortest of the sections. “Chromatica III” is the softest of the interludes, with the decrescendo in the strings leading into her collaboration with Elton John, “Sine from Above.” Their vocals together on this track bring joy to my heart, and the ending was the most unexpected thing that I encountered on the album. “1000 Doves” is a good cool-down track that leads us right into our finale, “Babylon.” This track is the perfect ending to our journey in Chromatica. It’s very reminiscent of Madonna’s “Vogue” and is probably the song you could vogue to the most on the album. The lyrics and beat are pretty catchy and overall it’s a strong closer.
After listening to the album on repeat for an entire month, it still hasn’t gotten old. I’m still discovering new things I like about the tracks and lyrics that I didn’t hear before. I can tell that this will be an album where my opinion will keep evolving and shifting as I keep listening. Do me a favor, though, and STREAM. THIS. ALBUM. Eventually, you too will be denouncing your U.S. citizenship and becoming a full citizen of Chromatica.