Music Review: New Sound, Same Gaga

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Megan Simmermeyer

File Under: joanne, lady gaga, music review

Known for her insane style and empowering, vibrant songs, singer Lady Gaga has returned to mainstream music with her latest album Joanne, titled in memory of her deceased aunt. The album, released in October 2016, was preceded by five earlier albums that captured the unique style of the young singer.

In 2008, Lady Gaga released her debut album The Fame featuring hits like “Just Dance,” “LoveGame,” and “Poker Face,” and a year later, she released The Fame Monster, bringing bigger, bolder tracks like “Bad Romance” and “Telephone” (featuring Beyoncé). The success of her first two albums only increased with the release of her third, Born this Way, which continued bringing voice to the themes of love, empowerment, and often, fun. After three bold, well-known albums, Gaga released two lesser-known ones: Artpop in 2013 and Cheek to Cheek, a collaboration with Tony Bennett, in 2014.

Her sixth full-length album, Joanne, maintains Gaga’s fantastic style but with fresh new songs hailing from rock, folk, and pop roots. Throughout the album, Gaga showcases her wide range of musical and vocal talents. Songs like “Perfect Illusion” and “Joanne” sound as though they belong on two different albums (or even in different genres), but Gaga manages to weave the different styles, such as the more rock-sounding “Perfect Illusion” and the country-esque “John Wayne,” together with her impressive vocal range and talent.

Unlike her previous albums, which could easily apply to the pop genre, Joanne maintains a sort of genre fluidity that would make it hard to classify. Tracks like “John Wayne” and “Dancin’ in Circles” sound as though they could be made into country hits with line dances and everything. Even Gaga’s Joanne wardrobe features lots of cowboy hats, boots, and tasseled shirts. However, she switches things up by including songs like “Perfect Illusion,” which has a rocker vibe, and “Hey Girl,” which sounds like a track one might listen to during 70’s.

With such a wide variety of songs, almost anyone can find a song to appreciate, and fans of her earlier pop albums will find solace in the high energy songs of “A-YO” and “Diamond Heart.” For sure, Lady Gaga’s latest album is very different from her previous albums in terms of a clear-cut genre, but the change is a welcome one that does not feel as though she did a 180 in terms of sound and messages. She continues to draw on other influential artists and to include her empowering, loving messages to all her “Little Monster” fans.