Lady Gaga Joanne is back with her most cohesive album yet, with the simple yet powerful Joanne.
Three years have passed since Gaga’s last polarising solo outing, ARTPOP, and has a lot happened in those three years or what?! Beyoncé has turned into the biggest artist on this planet, Rihanna has realised that a good album counts for more than a good single or two and Ariana Grande went on to become more than just a one-hit wonder.
So where does Gaga fit into a pop world in 2016?
Well, she doesn’t. Joanne follows no ‘how to do’ of 2016, she makes her own rules.
The previously mentioned artists of today are walking the brick road that Gaga lay back in 2008 in her early career. If we take our minds back to those days’ singers just sang and had a little boogie on stage, there was really no passion in music. But Gaga brought back the image and the importance that was pop culture-less noughties.
Many have stated Joanne as Gaga’s country album – and to some degree that’s not wrong – but it seems more of a natural step in Gaga’s life if fame didn’t come her way.
The songs pre-released from this album are no indication what to expect from it. “Perfect Illusion” is a monster of a track that grows on you with every listen but somehow feels out of place on the album – kinda weird to say the lead single is the weakest. “Million Reasons” is a beautiful heartbreak ballad that ends up being the least interesting slow track on the album. And “A-Yo,” the shoulda-coulda been first single from the album that perfectly shows what to expect from her fourth solo offering.
If you’re missing old Gaga then you’re in luck. One of the album highlights “Dancin’ In Circles” is a Bollywood-esque nod to self-pleasure – which is not undiscovered territory for Gaga, just take a look back at The Fame Monster’s, “So Happy I Could Die. Although this track doesn’t fit the record on paper, it sounds brilliant in context of the album.
“Diamond Heart” and “John Wayne,” the latter of which featured Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, are hard stomping tracks that are something to get your teeth into, as well as “Heart” featuring my new favourite Instagram caption, “I’m not flawless, but I’ve got a diamond heart.”
The album’s only collaboration comes in the form of “Hey Girl” with Florence Welch. Let’s be honest when this collab was announced we all thought it would be a huge diva vocal showdown, didn’t we? Well, it’s not. It’s a beautifully restrained back and forth track from the pairing that are doing their best to give the decade a new girl anthem.
The most surprising track on the album comes in the form of the standard editions closer, “Angel Down.” The track seems to be a social comment on the problems in America over the last year, such as Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub shootings as well as the racially motivated shootings that have inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Shots were fired on the street, by the church where we used to meet/Angel Down, angel down/But the people just stood around.”
Joanne will surely lose Gaga fans, you know the ones only here for the dancefloor fillers, but it will also gain her an army of new fans that enjoy the stripped back image and the lack of pop-culture references (reverse Warhol experience anyone?)
*Shoutout to Deluxe track “Grigio Girls” for the Spice Girls reference – and another heart-wrenching song.
Take a listen to Joanne below! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!