Lady Gaga’s most genuine album yet

“Chromatica” takes listeners on a personal journey to another world

Vivian Jiang and Leanna Sun

On May 26, pop-artist Lady Gaga released her sixth studio electric-pop album “Chromatica,” reminding the world of when she first entered the music industry more than a decade ago with her dance-pop album, “The Fame.” Taking the world by storm with her unique electronic pop sound that made everyone want to get up and dance, the album topped Billboard charts on June 6 by starting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, making this her sixth No. 1 album. 

In an interview with Paper Magazine earlier this year in March, Gaga stated that she wanted to “put out a record that forces people to rejoice even in their saddest moments” by making “the world dance and smile.” Without a doubt, she accomplished this perfectly.

“Chromatica” is Gaga’s most personal album yet and every vocal track beautifully expresses her powerful, emotion-packed voice. Gaga starts the album with one of her three interludes, “Chromatica I,” which then smoothly transitions to “Alice,” where the lyrics are a twist on the classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” story. Gaga proves her knack for grand entrances by kickstarting the song with the lyrics  “My name isn’t Alice / But I’ll keep looking, I’ll keep looking for Wonderland.” 

Throughout the song, these lines seem repetitive, but the repetition exemplifies how even though Gaga seems lost, she is trying her best to make it through her hardships. This further reinforces her vulnerability. On top of that, the upbeat background music leaves the listeners dancing through their emotions as they relate to Gaga, and the mix of the song being both optimistic and melancholic is something that Gaga is no stranger to.

Her fourth track, “Rain on Me,” a collaboration with Ariana Grande, is undoubtedly this upcoming summer’s pop anthem — it has an energetic beat, vibrant imagery and catchy lyrics. Grande is younger and hasn’t been in the industry as long as Gaga, but this song proves that musicians can still relate through similar experiences and emotions, regardless of the age gap. Gaga and Grande sing, “I can feel it on my skin (It’s comin’ down on me) / Teardrops on my face (Water like misery) / Let it wash away my sins (It’s coming down on me),” referencing how both of them have shed countless tears as a result of their struggles, such as Grande’s Manchester concert bombing and Gaga’s experience with rape, but are now experiencing a revival, as water is a symbol of renewal. 

While speaking about “Rain on Me” in an interview with Apple Music’s streaming radio station Beats 1 Gaga reveals how becoming closer friends with Grande helped her to heal and turn her pain into music, resulting in the pair’s duet. They are unapologetically real and truthful, accepting their anguish, but finding solace in the belief that everything will get better if they stay positive and face their problems head-on, shown when Gaga and Grande sing “I hear the thunder comin’ down / Won’t you rain on me?”. Gaga’s confident and powerful inflection added with Grande’s unique and breathy tone make the listener feel as if all their problems can be resolved through the combination of the two singers’ voices. 

As “Chromatica” progresses, Gaga gets more and more intimate with the listener. The sixth track on the album, “Fun Tonight,” seems like an explosive and fun song at first listen. But when closely listened to, the audience can quickly sense the heartbreak and feeling of loneliness. Unlike the previous songs on the album, “Fun Tonight” started with a gloomy vibe through the instrumentals, but when reaching the pre-chorus, the song’s passionate tone makes the listener want to scream their heartfelt emotions at the top of their lungs.

Gaga does the chorus justice with her powerful voice, and in a way, by making this painful song into one that the listener can still dance to, Gaga assures her audience that it’s okay to not be okay. In one of the most relatable tracks on the album, Gaga emphasizes to her audience it’s okay that not every moment in their lives will be a fairytale, and that ultimately, regret is what makes people more resilient.

Gaga’s “Sour Candy,” her first collab with sensational K-pop group Blackpink, is another energetic and upbeat electronic track that sends an empowering message of female power and how people shouldn’t expect a woman to change to fit into a bubble of being sweet and submissive. Gaga sings about how she’s “Hard on the outside / but if you see inside, inside, inside,” as in she’ll open up to her partner if they don’t expect her to change for them. Jennie, a member of Blackpink, then sings, “If you want to fix me / then let’s break up here and now,” reiterating the song’s message of staying true to oneself and accepting one’s more complex imperfections as a part of their identity.

While the message is clear when translated, American listeners may not understand the full message behind the song upon first listen as a small percentage of the lyrics are in Korean. However, the small addition of Korean is refreshing, though previously done, as it allows listeners to appreciate the beauty and stylistic charms of a different language. Even if a few lines of the song are in Korean, “Sour Candy” is still catchy and universally enjoyable, especially considering how language has no barrier on the dance floor. 

As the album reaches its end, one of the most powerful songs on “Chromatica” is one of the last — and fittingly so. “Sine From Above,” featuring English musician Sir Elton John, starts off as a mid-tempo ballad as Gaga sings the lyrics “I found myself without a prayer / I lost my love and no one cared / When I was young, I prayed for lightning.” But as the song progresses, the lyrics show more and more ambition to seek revival through music.

Gaga shares with her listeners the impact that music has had on her — how it has literally saved her — and like every other song on the album, her vocals do not disappoint. When John enters the song in the second verse, his voice initially seems out of place. However, once John and Gaga sing together in the pre-chorus, their distinct voices complement each other perfectly with  John’s lower register and Gaga’s higher tone.  

Gaga’s “Chromatica” is exhilarating, bright, healing and honest. Gaga doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge her struggles and shortcomings, embracing them both with enthusiasm and a desire to reclaim her identity and iconic sound. Although the fast-paced and energetic album comes at a bizarre time where no one feels like getting up and dancing, it takes the listener on a journey to a fantastical, otherworldly planet — a fun and whimsical planet everyone would much rather be on right now.