Chromatica is the sixth studio album by American singer Lady Gaga. It was released on May 29, 2020, by Streamline and Interscope Records. Originally scheduled for April 10, 2020, the album's release was delayed for several weeks, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chromatica serves as a follow-up to Gaga's fifth studio album, Joanne (2016).
The singer intended the album to be a reminder of her "absolute love for electronic music", and features production from various producers, such as BloodPop, BURNS, Axwell and Tchami. Themes of the album revolve around mental health, healing, and finding happiness through hardship. It also includes collaborations with Ariana Grande, Blackpink and Elton John.
"Stupid Love" was released as the album's lead single on February 28, 2020, and reached number five in both the United Kingdom and United States. "Rain on Me" was released as the second single on May 22, 2020. "Sour Candy" was released as a promotional single on May 28, 2020 and impacted Australian radio as the third official single the following day.
In press interviews after it was announced she would embark on one final performance of her 2016 Dive Bar Tour, Gaga hinted new music would be performed and released during the new leg's stop. However, the Dive Bar Tour performance was later postponed indefinitely due to scheduling conflicts. Later, Gaga hinted the release of new music during the globe-crossing Joanne World Tour, however, in an August 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the singer revealed that due to the constraints of the tour production, specifically the strictly-scheduled synchronization of its various technologies with the performances, there most likely will not be any new material performed on the Joanne World Tour, let alone any deviation from the structure of the show itself. It was also revealed in the same interview that production had begun on the follow up to Joanne, with Gaga offering that the album was still in the initial writing stage.
Talking about previous record Joanne, Gaga admitted that it was an album that she made for his father, trying to heal his and her family's trauma. She later realized she "can't fix dad", and called the album a "futile effort" to heal him. Her disappointment drove her into depression and chainsmoking, and writing new music was her way for healing.
Conception and artwork
Talking about the album's title, Gaga described Chromatica as a planet and also as a location in her mind where all sounds and colors mix and stated: "I live on Chromatica, that is where I live. I went into my frame. I found Earth, I deleted it. Earth is canceled. I live on Chromatica." The dystopian planet of Chromatica appears in the music video for the song "Stupid Love", where Gaga portrays a warrior leader, and "follows a narrative about tribes battling for dominance in a world riddled with conflict". Gaga also confirmed how the concept of the planet Chromatica came about, saying:
BloodPop brought it up, and we talked about how Chromatica was essentially on its own when you first look at it, it seems to be about colors and all the different colors and also music is made of a chromatic scale, you know? So it's all the colors, all the sounds, you know, so we, we're talking about inclusivity and life and also a lot of what we see around us and what we're experiencing is math, which is very much like music and sound is math as well. So we talked about that, and then I sort of went back and I said, 'OK, well, yeah, it's inclusivity but it's really a way of thinking,' you know, it's not just, 'Oh, Chromatica, we're being inclusive with all the colors, all the people,' and when I say, 'All the colors, all the people' I mean way more than we could possibly fathom."
A temporary cover art was released along with the album preorder, showcasing a symbol over a pink background. It received comparison to the yin and yang symbol. The singer explained that the Chromatica logo "has a sine wave in it, which is the mathematical symbol for sound. And, for me, sound is what healed me in my life period, and it healed me again making this record, and that is really what Chromatica is all about."
On April 5, 2020, the album's official cover was revealed. It shows the singer with "cotton candy pink" hair, wearing a "metallic bodysuit with spikes and studs sticking out of it", "a pair of platform boots with a tusk and a knife for its heels" and a "shoulder-to-fingertip sleeve covered in spikes" on one of her hands. She is attached to a large metal grate illuminated by "hot pink neon" light. It also involves the previously showscased Chromatica symbol. Trey Alston from MTV described the cover art as "part-Mad Max, Mortal Kombat, and cyber-punk fantasy", while Hilary Hughes from Billboard also found inspiration from the Alien films. The cover photograph was taken by German photographer Norbert Schoerner, with creative direction by Nicola Formichetti; Gaga's body armor was created by Cecilio Castrillo.
Writing and recording
“What I'm making now is a reminder of the freedom that I have as an artist, but also my absolute love for electronic music, my absolute love for ability for a computer to make something that is so visceral and soulful. The bulk of this album was made inside a computer… I played with modular synths, I played with real synth. I gave Bloodpop what I would play on the piano, we input it as midi, and then we would play with inversions and produce the record and make the song…
—Gaga on the production of the album
In the first seven months of 2018, Gaga was seen at various recording studios in and around Los Angeles and New York City. The earlier recording sessions have been attributed to post-production work for the soundtrack to Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born, a remake of the 1937 film of the same name in which she has top billing. The later recording sessions have mostly been attributed to further production for Chromatica. Producer BloodPop, who had co-produced every song on the standard edition of Gaga's previous studio album Joanne (2016), shared on various social media platforms that he and Gaga had been recording at the singer's Malibu estate with German electronic music producer Boys Noize. BloodPop continued to post similar updates through the entirety of 2019 and January 2020, indicating production had continued for nearly three years. In July 2018, experimental electronic music producer Sophie confirmed that she had contributed production work for the upcoming project but was unaware if her collaboration would make the final cut.
In an interview with Beats 1's Zane Lowe, Gaga confirmed the album will be a dance record, saying "We are definitely dancing… I put all my heart, all my pain, all my messages from the other realm that I hear of… what they tell me to tell the world and I put it into music that I believe to be so fun and you know, energetically really pure. I want people to dance and feel happy. I would like to put out music that a big chunk of the world will hear, and it will become a part of their daily lives and make them happy every single day." She divulged how her intuition had evolved since the production of her last album, especially with the "real" and "honest" nature of this record's production virtually halting her inclination to second guess her creative output. Gaga also went into great detail about how the collaborative process of creating the album helped her overcome her internal struggles:
We made a lot of the record in my studio house. So I have a house where it's Frank Zappa's old studio, it's a live room, it's a big studio, it's beautiful. And I would be upstairs on the porch, outside the kitchen, and Bloodpop would come up and he'd go, 'Okay, come on, that's enough, off the porch,' and I would cry and I would say, 'I'm miserable, I'm sad, I’m depressed,' and he'd go, 'I know, and we're gonna go make some music now. And then I'd go downstairs and I would write. This album is such a display of not only how you can reframe the way that you view the world, but I promise and I hope, that the love that was around me in the process of making this album is something that other people feel, that they know that artistically, like, you know how producers are, if one guy's working on it, or one girl's working on it, they don't want anyone else to work on it, they don't wanna share, they, everybody gets cocky, there was none of that. These records got passed around to so many different people, there were so many different iterations of these songs because we all wanted it to be perfect and literally nobody cared who put their fingerprints on it, as long as it was the dopest thing that we could give to the world and that it was meaningful, authentic, and completely me.
Gaga collaborated with Ariana Grande on the track "Rain on Me".
In an interview with Justin Moran of Paper magazine, released in March 2020, Gaga talked at length about numerous topics, including the recording process for Chromatica, and confirmed that BloodPop was the "center" and her "nucleus" of production while creating the album and that he had a hand in the creation of every track. Gaga worked with a wide array of producers, such as Burns, Axwell of Swedish House Mafia, Skrillex, Madeon (who had previously worked with Gaga on her third studio album, Artpop), Ryan Tedder, Justin Tranter, Tom Norris, Madison Love, Tchami, Benjamin Rice, and Rami Yacoub, to create an album described as an "electronic tapestry" by Moran. In discussing the large collaborative atmosphere that enveloped the album's production, Gaga said, "It's easy to go into a computer and find a cool loop, but the producers I work with don't work this way. When they're inspired, they embroider things." She later added:
“I’ve been in this business a long time… I’ve never seen so many producers be willing to pass around music and be like ‘What do you think, man?’, and have it be a conversation. And if we didn’t use somebody’s production, it was no big deal… Everybody was in service of the song, which made me feel so loved, as the writer. Because when I write a song, I want it to sound the best that it could be, I also want it to interpret what I’m saying the best that it can interpret.”
Gaga collaborated with Elton John on the song "Sine from Above". Talking about their work together, she described him as her “mentor” and explained how he played a significant role in her road to recovery: "Elton’s always really challenged me to take care of my artistry and to really take care of myself. And I really, really honour that about him. He is so, so uniquely special. And I cannot tell you how instrumental in my life he’s been to showing me that you can go all the way in life and… be authentic and be you and do good things in the world and take care of yourself and be there." The album also includes a collaboration with Ariana Grande on the track, "Rain On Me", whom Gaga described as an artist "who immense trauma while in the public eye", which brought them together for the creation of the song. Gaga collaborated with K-Pop girl group Blackpink on a song titled "Sour Candy". In an interview for Japanese entertainment site TV Groove, Gaga stated that "when called them and asked if they wanted to write a song with , they were so happy and motivated" and that she wanted "to celebrate them". The group's members sing in both English and Korean on the song.
We first saw a glimpse of Chromatica – the fictional planet Lady Gaga has created with her sixth album of the same name – in the music video for lead single ‘Stupid Love’. The video opens with text that explains that while the world “rots in conflict”, many tribes are fighting for dominance, including “the Kindness punks”, a tribe Gaga leads, who fight for peace. Gaga and her gang – a group dancers clad in hot-pink Mad Max costumes – break up fights between with other factions of warriors in an extra-terrestrial desert, eventually restoring order.
Chromatica, she’s since explained, can be thought of both as an inclusive place where all sounds and colours mix. But it’s also an inclusive frame of mind, she told Zane Lowe in a recent interview: “I don’t know that I’ve ever made an album that wasn’t on Chromatica in some type of way, meaning like my frame of mind is always a part of my music, and this is just my way of kind of expressing, even in a both literal and abstract way.”
It’s high concept – albeit a slightly confusing one – but what else would we expect from Lady Gaga? This is the artist who’s consistently reinvented herself over the course of the past decade. Take a genre 180 and drop an album of jazz standards (2014’s ‘Cheek to Cheek’ with Tony Bennett) or country tunes (2016’s ‘Joanne’)? Sure! Become an Oscar-nominated actress in a smash-hit remake of A Star Is Born? Why not!
For ‘Chromatica’, though, Gaga has returned to the effervescent dance-pop she first broke the charts with back in 2009 (who could forget her world-changing debut single ‘Just Dance’?). As she explained in an Apple Music interview: “I’m making a dance record again, and this dancefloor it’s mine and I earned it, and all that stuff that I went through… I don’t have to feel pain about it anymore. It can just be a part of me and I can keep going.” Writing the album helped Gaga heal her personal pain – and this perseverance permeates ‘Chromatica’.
Take smash hit Ariana Grande collaboration ‘Rain on Me’, which may just be Gaga’s best song since 2011’s ‘Born This Way’. Over euphoric synth-pop instrumentals and strutting disco beats, Gaga purrs “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive” in a fist-pumping moment of pure jubilation. There can be 100 songs you’ve written, and 99 don’t leave an impact, but all it takes is one as good as ‘Rain On Me’ to remain a pop icon.
House-tinted thumper ‘Enigma’ is a celebration of lust (“We could be lovers, even just tonight”), while electro-pop lead single ‘Stupid Love’ is concerned with the joy of being head-over-heels in love (“You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for / Gotta quit this cryin’”). That isn’t to say that there aren’t heavier moments – the Daft Punk-inspired ‘911’, which is about antipsychotic medication, sees Gaga admit “My biggest enemy is me / pop a 911″ via robotic vocals. But each song is wrapped up in healing and kindness, accompanied by empowering lyrics and triumphant melodies. The shimmering ‘Free Woman’ sees Gaga victoriously move forward after being sexually assaulted by a music producer, preaching: “This is my dancefloor I fought for / A heart, that’s what I’m livin’ for”.
The album is best listened to in full, with the cinematic orchestral passages linking the songs together and acting as a respite between each of the break-neck pop bangers. Occasionally it threatens to become a cliché – ‘Fun Tonight’ threatens to turn into Jess Glynne-radio fodder and inoffensive penultimate tune ‘1000 Doves’ fails to live up to the ecstasy of its predecessors. But for the most part ‘Chromatica’ is pure joy.
There are unexpected moments, though – particularly Gaga’s collaboration with Elton John. The two have been pals for over a decade – she’s even godmother two Elton John’s two sons – and previously teamed up for dramatic, piano-led awards ceremony performances and the soft-rock Gnomeo & Juliet soundtrack song ‘Hello Hello’. Given their past works, would it have been save to assume the two artists would work on a ballad together?
Absolutely not: ‘Sine From Above’ is basically what a heady night out at Glastonbury’s Shangri La with Elton and Gagz would sound like. With PC Music-tinted vocals and wild club production that fuses drum-and-bass and Eurodisco with ear-worm hooks, it’s brilliantly bizarre.
If collaborating with Elton John was her way of embracing the pop music’s past, Gaga also looks to the present and future, teaming up with K-pop group BLACKPINK on ‘Sour Candy – a ‘90s house smasher filled with slithering vocals (which flit between English and Korean) and a throbbing bassline.
On ‘Chromatica’ Gaga has fully embraced creating a pure pop album. The record is littered with catchy choruses and glossy production – but it goes deeper than that. ‘Chromatica’ is “about healing and it’s about bravery”, she explained before the album came out, adding: “sound is what healed me in my life period, and it healed me again making this record”. You can certainly hear that. From the exhilarating melodies to the positive, hope-filled lyrics, ‘Chromatica’ is a celebration – and a well-deserved one at that.
SOURCE: https://www.nme.com/reviews/lady-gaga-chromatica-album-review-2677590 User Comments