‘Joanne’ by Lady Gaga Review
Written by Reid Smith on October 25, 2016
Scribed by Erin Keller
At last, Lady Gaga has returned to the mainstream pop scene. Mother Monster’s middle name Joanne serves as the title of the singer’s newest album since 2013’s Artpop, an album that was a bit disappointing to millennials who bumped The Fame Monster on middle school bus rides. Gaga then took a break from the crazy outfits and outlandish stage performances to team up with jazz icon Tony Bennett. The duo released Cheek to Cheek a year later and won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
Now in 2016, Gaga’s put back on the fishnet tights, cut-off shorts, and distinctive fashion accessories to create her first pop album in three years. With a lack of dancehall anthems, Gaga has mellowed out. Nevertheless, the new eleven tracks are packed with meaningful and important themes.
The first theme running through the album is peaceful social change. “Angel Down” elude to today’s cultural problems including police brutality. Gaga shared that the song was written about Trayvon Martin.
“How could I not say something?” Gaga asked in an interview with Beats Radio 1.
Another hopeful track “Come To Mama” is what I am calling 2016’s version of The Beatles’ “Come Together.” Gaga starts the track singing “Everybody’s got to love each other/ Stop throwin’ stones at your sisters and your brothers.” She ends the four-minute masterpiece shouting out the LGBTQ+ community: “Why do we gotta tell each other how to live/ Look what that rainbow did.” It lacks the mainstream radio appeal of “Born This Way” but is still one of the album’s catchiest jams.
The second Joanne theme is women empowerment. The highlight of the album is perhaps the work’s only collaboration: “Hey Girl” featuring Florence Welch of Florence and The Machine. Gaga and Welch alternate lines on the chill, girl empowering track resulting in an urge to play it on repeat. The title track “Joanne” also relates to this theme. The beautiful plea at the beginning of the track, “Take my hand, stay Joanne/ Heaven’s not/ Ready for you/ Every part/ Of my aching heart/ Needs you more/ Than the angels” makes this song a standout. Both songs talk about having a female to lean on, which is refreshing considering the highly publicized feud of Taylor Swift vs Katy Perry.
If you were hoping and expecting songs similar to the style of Gaga’s earlier albums, “Dancin’ In Circles” will be your jam. “Dancin’ in circles, feels good to be lonely” Girl, we can relate. The song mentions masturbation, a topic Gaga has never shied away from in oldies like “So Happy I Could Die” and “Sexxxx Dreams” and “John Wayne.” If we’re talking traditional sounding radio hits, I do not think there are many on this album. However, this is the perk of being an established artist such as Lady Gaga. The album is a valid addition to her massive collection of pop hits and social change-charged deep cuts.