Lady Gaga finally released Chromatica today after a COVID-19-related setback. Pride celebrations across the country are cancelled this year, but thanks to Gaga the gays have been blessed nonetheless. Let’s talk about the 16 tracks on Chromatica, one by one.
1. Chromatica I
From the first five seconds of the album, it’s clear this is going to be a different ride. The cinematic swells make me feel like I’m on a boat rounding the bend in a river leading straight to Gaga’s new planet. If this is how she wanted to introduce her new world, she did it flawlessly.
This is the first song that tickled my “this is sickening” nerve. The singing of “My name isn’t Alice” is immediately infectious. This is the one that will be stuck in your mind for the rest of the day after you get through the album for the first time.
3. Stupid Love
This one’s been on our conscious for a while now: it was released a few months back as the leading single from this album. In one phrase, I would say this song is perfectly functional. It’s fun and vibrant, if not terribly new or exciting. The beat and instrumentation under the vocals are very reminiscent of “Born This Way,” which isn’t necessarily good or bad. It just feels like we’ve been here before.
4. Rain On Me
I cannot think of a collaboration that would be more exciting to the gay community. Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga are such icons in the modern pop realm, they’re basically every twink’s Person of the Year…every year.
With that being said, there was very little risk of this duet failing. It’s a better single than “Stupid Love,” and really hyped up the album’s release in the week leading up to it. “Rain. On. Me.” is exceptional. Just the kind of Gaga spoken word we live for. Gaga speaking “Hands up to the sky. I’ll be your galaxy. I’m about to fly. Rain on me, tsunami,” while Ariana sings the same words simultaneously? *Chef’s kiss*.
5. Free Woman
We stan the concept of female empowerment, but this track’s decidedly less exciting than everything we’ve heard to far. It’s a middle-of-the-road song that isn’t bad, but I can’t imagine it being a fan favorite. It keeps up the bright, dancy vibe of the album so far, and that’s acceptable. And I’m definitely adding it to the fierce feminism playlist, alongside “The Man” (Taylor Swift) and “Boys Will Be Boys” (Dua Lipa).
6. Fun Tonight
This is the slowest Chromatica has been so far, but it’s still got plenty of tempo. “Fun Tonight” is a sad jam about the impending end of a relationship. It’s not too bad, but only has about five unique lines altogether. Again, You could probably dance to this whole album, which is Gaga’s intention. But there isn’t a ton of depth in this one, which makes it mostly forgettable (besides Gaga’s belting “IiIiIiIiI’m feeling the way that I’m feeling. I’m feeling with youUuUuUuU!”).
P.S. “You love the paparazzi, love the fame” is a callback that deserves a mention. Okay, moving on.
7. Chromatica II
Another interlude, huh? Yes, sis. This is the one the gays are losing their minds over. The track itself continues the cinematic tone set by “Chromatica I,” but this time things feel a little more interesting. It’s like a second-act reveal. The stage is set, and we’re ready to explore more of Chromatica.
What exactly has everyone screaming?
The transition from “Chromatica II” to the start of “911” is the best in the whole album, and frankly the best I’ve heard…ever? I’ll have to think about that, but seriously. A gag and a half.
This is one of my favorites. The hook? The chorus? The vocoder vocals? I’m screaming.
I would hate to jump the gun, but this could really be one of Gaga’s best songs ever. The robotic “My biggest enemy is me. Pop a 9-1-1” really has me scalped. “911” is an early favorite, and I anticipate it being a standout from Chromatica for years to come.
9. Plastic Doll
After playing through the album a few times, this one’s a bit of a sleeper hit. It didn’t immediately strike me as a top-tier song, but it’s rising steadily in my ranking. It’s got a tough act to follow when you listen to the album from front to back, but it’s a perfectly good bop. It’s not my favorite right now. However, it has lots of potential to blossom into a standout.
10. Sour Candy
Okay, so this one feels like the following recipe: 3 parts Great; 1 part Mediocre.
“Sour Candy” is fun, but for the first minute of its 2.5 minute run, it sounds kind of uninteresting. Worse, the synth instrumentation is really reminiscent of “Swish Swish” by Katy Petty.
But Gaga really pulled out the stops with her collabs this time. BLACKPINK is one of the most popular K-pop bands right now, and K-pop is hugely popular. It feels nearly impossible for this song to flop, or be underappreciated.
And when Gaga stepped onto the track, I said “Yaaass” out loud. No one does spoken word like Gaga. Every word has me so entranced! She sounds so nonchalantly fierce, it almost hurts. “Take a bite. Take a bite.”
As in “Fun Tonight,” the album slows down ever so slightly here. But you could (absolutely will) hear this entire album at your local gay club. “Enigma” is, again, perfectly fine. But it doesn’t have any moments that really butter my bread. Gaga’s got some strong vocals here, but this one’s near the bottom of my list.
Absolutely in my top five on the album. It’s chromatic perfection. That chorus? The mood of this strange new world. I’m booking my flights right now!
There’s something interesting about the lyric “Your monsters torture me.” I thought we were the monsters, Gaga? What does it mean?
Anyway, this is when I was sold on Chromatica. Officially. What’s not to like?
13. Chromatica III
Another interlude? Yes, honey, it’s called art.
The last of our beloved “Chromatica” tracks continues to build the world cinematically. This one feels like we’ve gone through a lot, but there are still some loose ends to tie up. A reflective horn statement finishes up this interlude, and ushers in …
14. Sine From Above
A collaboration with Elton John is perfect for Gaga. She has earned the right to perform alongside some of the industry’s best. This song doesn’t stray completely from the flashing dance floor, but it does feel like it has more to say than most the other songs on the album. It’s the first of two double entendre titles in the last act of the album. Sound waves are also known technically as sine waves, meaning Gaga found hope through music. A sine from above. Clever, huh?
15. 1000 Doves
This one’s also a bit more lyrical than average. However, its beat takes precedence once again. There is clearly some heart and vulnerability put into this, so I can’t bring myself to hate it. It’s just that, at this point in the album, I need a bit more variety. The basic dance beat is a bit tired.
You know by now that I live for a spoken Gaga word. “Babylon” has plenty of spoken Gaga words, so I have no choice but to like it. And here’s the second double entendre: she rhymes “Babylon” with “babble on,” which is an encouragement for folks to chat and gossip with one another (That sound like a great idea for a website!). It’s kind of a stretch, but the confident delivery makes it a bop.
As the last track, “Babylon” thankfully breathes new energy into Chromatica. With a piano and a saxophone to set the beat apart, its one to remember. Gaga’s ability to craft a fierce dance track on the concept of a dusty old civilization is truly remarkable.
This album definitely feeds the little monsters what they have been starving for. I love Gaga’s Joanne and her “Shallow” duet with Bradley Cooper, but she hasn’t felt this fun since ARTPOP (2013).
The album has been out for only 14 hours as I write this, and my opinions are likely to change. But here’s my rough ranking of the tracks on Chromatica (ignoring the interludes):
- Rain On Me
- Sour Candy
- Sine From Above
- Plastic Doll
- Stupid Love
- Free Woman
- Fun Tonight
- 1000 Doves