Despite still being a long way from qualifying for a Little Monster loyalty card, I have to admit that I have always been partial to a bit of Gaga. Very rarely does a
musician come along who understands the intrigue and value of showmanship yet also has had the talent to remain credible since her breakthrough in 2008. Having achieved 'The Fame' that she spoke
about back then, she has returned after a two year musical hiatus during which time she won a Golden Globe and was named Billboard's 'Woman of the Year'.
Quasi self-titled fifth studio album Joanne starts with the bang that you might expect from classic Gaga. Diamond Heart has a thudding drum beat, memorable
chorus and haunting lyrics that speak to a tainted youth that, true or not, is beautifully tapped into by Gaga. The imagery of the 'asshole' who 'broke me in' and 'wrecked all my innocence' is as
evocative as it is disturbing. Whisk through A-Yo, a track which lesser artists may consider single material but to the accomplished Gaga is nothing more than mindless filler.
The album's title track, Joanne, serves as a reminder, if one were needed after her anthemic rendition at Superbowl 50, of the true versatility of Stefani
Germanotta's beautiful voice. A gorgeous, no doubt meaningful, song with a heavy country influence. While listening, I sensed I was being given a three minute glimpse behind the curtain to something
deeper. It feels like reading Gaga's diary, an impact which I haven't experienced since the song So Hard by The Dixie Chicks. It was a pleasant surprise and I was left wanting more.
Unfortunately, I didn't get it.
Though John Wayne is a reasonably catchy, upbeat number, it instantly becomes forgettable when listeners are presented with the monstrosity that is
Dancin' In Circles or as I shall henceforth call it 'A coffin nail-shaped ode to masturbatory pleasure'. If the cast of Geordie Shore were put in charge of the Eurovision entry, it probably
wouldn't be far from this. With Gaga urging us to 'Funk me downtown' as she is 'tryin' to rub the pain out', it was hard to hear most of the track over the sound of Mary Whitehouse spinning in her
grave. Lazy songwriting combined with lacklustre shock tactics. It is the musical equivalent of listening to your Nan explain the subtle nuances of dogging whilst wearing a basque and the album never
quite recovers from it.
Perfect Illusion is the passionless, post-orgasmic moment of clarity that follows Gaga's clitoral waltz and is a surprising choice as the album's lead
single. The decline continues through the uninspiring Million Reasons, the jaunty but too late Sinner's Prayer and the oddly-festive Come To Mama (think the horrendous
One More Sleep by Leona Lewis). Even the multi-faceted Florence Welch can't halt the runaway train as she turns in a soulless performance on misjudged, droning collaboration Hey
This album will sell. It will top charts. Perhaps it will even break records. Gaga's following are nothing if not loyal from ear to purse. For me, though I do love the pomp and theatrics, I can't help being left with an overwhelming desire for a little less Gaga and a little more Stefani in future releases please.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Week
"I lay around, touch myself to pass the time"
Dancin' In Circles
Glam New York princess
Tales of self love and distress
Cut back on meat dress?
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