Henry’s Review of Chromatica

Sam hates this album, which is a good enough reason to like it if you ask me. 

Chromatica is Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album, and she’s moving back to her pop-electronic roots after the more country ballad style of Joanne. It’s well put together, if sometimes not all the way there. Though that might just be my high expectation speaking. 

So I’m a pretty big fan of Lady Gaga, and I’m not going to lie, Joanne wasn’t my favourite thing that she did. I get what she was doing there, but just my personal taste, I prefer the poppier stuff she does. Course, I also just like pop music, so again, subjective. Either way, I was glad when I heard that she was going back in that direction with this. The title of the album and the aesthetic it seemed to have were all clearly her going back to the weirder stuff that she got famous on, which is pretty awesome. I’m not going to go song-by-song through Chromatica, though I will touch on a few that I particularly liked or had thoughts on. 

The album itself is not actually as weird or experimental as I feel like it could have been—or as it thinks it is. Parts of it are a bit generic—not necessarily in a bad way, just that they fit very neatly into their genre. And I think honestly that’s because the genre has changed in the last ten years because of Lady Gaga and people like her, and that’s kind of the thing, she’s still doing some of the stuff that was really new and interesting when she did it ten years ago. Like how middle-class people think Seinfeld was funnier before everyone copied its genius, except this time it’s true. I just would have liked to have seen her—heard her—push the envelope a little more, I guess. And maybe sample just a little less from the late 80s and early 90s, because at times it feels like she was leaning on that more than her own talent.

Now I don’t want any of that to be taken to mean that I didn’t like it! I do like Chromatica and I think it’s a strong inclusion into her overall discography. “Alice,” “911” and “Babylon” are really cool, dancey tracks that I’ve listened to a bunch of times each (even if Babylon is…let’s say heavily influenced by Madonna’s “Vogue”), and “Sine from Above” with Elton John is really stellar as well (largely because of Elton John if I’m honest, who never should have even dropped out of super-stardom in my opinion, but is crushing the resurgance game).  In fact, there’s no song on here that I automatically didn’t like. A few of the songs (looking at you, “Enigma” and “Babylon” again) give me kind of Born this Way vibes, which isn’t a perfect comparison because I personally feel that’s her weakest album, but I almost feel like she managed to do what she’d been trying to do back then, but properly this time.

I also like the album as a whole a lot better now that I’ve listened to it a few times. At first I think I was the victim of high expectations, and I was slightly underwhelmed. But now I’ve had some time to think about it and listen to the music more, and I do appreciate the whole thing, really. This is kind of what happened when “Stupid Love” came out—wasn’t a fan the first time, but I really like it now (even if, and I’m just gonna say it, she did that thing white celebrities do in the video where she darkened her skin in a way that puts one vaguely in mind of blackface, and I did not like that). 

So yeah, overall Chromatica isn’t quite what I was expecting based on how it was marketed, and I’m not sure the actual concept of the whole album is borne out properly, but I do really like it and if you’re a fan of Lady Gaga you probably will too. 

Plus I’ve been playing it really loudly and it’s been fun to watch and place bets on whether Sam, Todd or Scott is going to flip out over it first. I have some fun little activities in mind for whichever one of them it ends up being.

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