By Mackenzie Dineen – Co-Arts Editor
Lady Gaga’s newest album, “Joanne,” released October 21, embodies an entirely new sound from her previous work. The album challenges her pop discography with unique folk influences and takes inspiration from artists including the Beatles, David Bowie, and Elton John. The album begins with “Diamond Heart,” a loud ballad that showcases Gaga’s raw vocals. The track focuses on “young wild Americans” and their nature. “A-Yo” is a mix of folk inspired vocals, a hip-hop breakdown, and an upbeat tempo. While the combination is interesting and nuanced, it can feel overwhelming at times. “Joanne,” the title track of the album, is an acoustic ballad focusing on loss. Lady Gaga’s intimate vocal performance makes the song more personal. The song is dedicated to, and the album is named after, Gaga’s late aunt.
“John Wayne” begins with a captivating clip of Gaga talking about her love for cowboys and continues with a simple verse, accented by a thumping bassline, and an energetic and catchy chorus of muffled and raw vocals. “‘Dancin’ In Circles” has a sound that is reminiscent of Gaga’s “Alejandro” with a salsa beat and edgy, provocative lyrics. The song is embellished with artful background vocals, and extra percussion.
“Perfect Illusion,” the album’s first single, resembles Gaga’s traditional repertoire the most. Her dramatic lyrics, synthetic rhythms, and foot-tapping beat make the song a popular hit. The song’s stand out key change is incredibly theatrical.
“Million Reasons” is yet another acoustic song, this time a tender testament to a deteriorating romance, and the desire to stay with a problematic loved one, rather than go. “Sinner’s Prayer” is a tip of the hat to Western music, and includes acoustic guitar, piano, and bass parts that set it apart musically from the rest of the percussion-heavy album.
“Come to Mama” features an upbeat, big band inspired tune with an obvious and inspirational message of love and peace. In the current turbulence of American politics, the song is especially relevant. The song opens with the line, “Everybody’s got to love each other, Stop throwin’ stones at your sisters and your brothers,” and closes with, “The only prisons that exist are ones we put each other in.”
“Hey Girl” has an unmistakably jazz sound. Gaga’s vocals are polished and smooth, and the instrumentals are almost identical to Elton John’s “Benny and The Jets.” The song also features Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.
“Hey Girl,” speaks on a relationship with a very close friend or lover, and describes two people who are able to support each other. “Angel Down” discusses Trayvon Martin’s death, and the role of social media and the public in police brutality. The song itself is majestic, with choral accents and a quiet, string-filled background.
“Grigio Girls” focuses on Gaga’s relationship with a female mentor who helped her build strength, and bonded with her over Pinot Grigio. The song closes with a group of female voices singing the chorus and laughing. “Just Another Day” is a piano-driven song, and hearkens to the Beatles and David Bowie. The final track of the album is Lady Gaga’s work tape of “Angel Down,” which provides a different, less polished, insight to the song.