After a few long, dark years, Lady Gaga has finally released her fifth studio album: Joanne.
Joanne is named for Gaga’s aunt, her father’s younger sister, who passed before Gaga’s birth. Gaga believes she shares a deep connection with Joanne, and now not only does Gaga’s album share the name; a particularly special track from the album does too.
I was a bit skeptical for Joanne, of course I was excited, as any longtime Lady Gaga fan was! I still remember the day I watched the video for ‘Just Dance’ for the first time, I couldn’t believe how cool she was, and how she was just being herself! And people loved her for it! She felt totally revolutionary to the me, an awkward, weird teen. Gaga never stopped evolving, each album felt completely different to the last, every single track was a breath of fresh air. But then….Artpop came.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like Artpop, there are some incredible songs on that album (Applause, G.U.Y and Venus to name a few), but it fell a bit flat. It was a little bit of a mess, a little bit all over the place. That was fun, but it didn’t have long lasting effect. I worried Joanne would be the same for me. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Joanne cannot be reduced down to a few mere words. At times, this album is a completely different tone to anything we have ever had from Gaga; country wasn’t a category I expected her to ever fit, but now in this post-Joanne world, I can’t think of Gaga without thinking of her country sounds. Many songs feel reminiscent of The Fame (Monster) era – my favourite era of Gaga. This juxtaposition is somehow incredibly natural. The genres flow together and create an album worth listening to.
The lead single, Perfect Illusion, John Wayne and Hey Girl (featuring the one and only, Florence Welch) are the standout tracks, with Joanne and Grigio Girls both deserving honourable mentions. These, bar Joanne, are some of the more upbeat and lively tracks of the album. The slowest songs aren’t my favourites- Million Reasons is definitely the least promising track of the album for me, I’ve found myself skipping it more than once.
Angel Down deserves discussion, it’s bloody fantastic to see Gaga use her position, her influence, her art to support Black Lives Matter, and to remember Trayvon Martin forever. She says at this point in her career, it’s about writing about the important issues, not just what’s fun. Good on her. Many refuse to use their abilities and talents to help to change the messed up world we live in.
Gaga is crushing the game right now, starring on the latest season of American Horror Story, penning a cookbook with her father, starring in and writing music for the upcoming ‘A Star is Born’, working on a sequel album to Cheek to Cheek, preparing for the Superbowl Halftime performance, and of course, bringing us all Joanne.
This isn’t my favourite Lady Gaga album, does that mean it isn’t her best? Not necessarily. Yesterday I felt confident that this was a middle ground of an album, today I’m not so sure. Tomorrow this could be my favourite, just like Gaga’s styles, my opinion is evolving.
Another Gaga era is upon us, and I’m excited to see where she takes us this time. The days of meat dresses and egg arrivals are gone, it was a great time, but it’s time to move on.
The pink hat is here to stay!
Buy Joanne on Apple Music.
Stream Joanne on Spotify.