Mentioning Lady Gaga could lead to a myriad of possible discussions. Some might critique her style, while others are more inclined to say that she possesses no talent whatsoever. However you feel about the controversial singer, you cannot say she isn’t an artist. Gaga is constantly evolving her art, which can be seen in her pop, jazz and now rock era. Two weeks ago, Gaga released the first single from her new album, called “Perfect Illusion.” Many fans are ecstatic about her new sound and are praising the single, yet I feel that it lacks the depth that I have grown accustomed to.
Lady Gaga does not just produce music. She embodies the art that she is making, which is seen through her fashion and music videos. The notorious meat dress at the VMAs made a powerful statement against the meat industry. Each era, Gaga has grown more as she is perfecting her art. The newest era is rock, with her inspirations being artists such as David Bowie and Led Zeppelin.
After Gaga’s latest solo album “Artpop” did not receive the critical and fan acclaim that had continuously been associated with her movement, one could tell that something was off. I attended “The Artpop Ball,” which was the tour following the album, and it was not the same Gaga that had brought the spectacular “Born This Way Ball” and “Monster Ball Tour” years before. Gaga went through each song with barely any pauses and the strong connection between her and her fans was no longer evident.
Following her initial rise, Gaga teamed up with Tony Bennett for their jazz album, “Cheek to Cheek,” and performed twice at the Oscars, which included a “Sound of Music” tribute and “Til it Happens to You,” a song dedicated to survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. This showed the world a different Gaga, and my family realized that the singer I had worshiped since I was 13 could actually sing. Her 2015 comeback also included Gaga being cast in the main role on the cult television series “American Horror Story.”
Following this success, Gaga’s fans eagerly awaited news of another pop album. Over three years after the release of “Artpop,” Gaga announced that her newest single, “Perfect Illusion,” would be released in Sept. 2016. As an avid fan, I was ecstatic. In the years since “Artpop,” I had ventured from traditional pop music and explored different genres, yet I knew I would come back to Gaga after hearing the first note.
Surprisingly, that was not the case. I waited over a day after the song’s release to listen to it, as I was busy and wanted to take my time. My concert-goer group chat was exploding over the song and demanded that I listen. Finally, I caved.
The shrill beat immediately hits you and doesn’t relent for the duration of the song. In contrast to a typical Gaga song, there is a sense of grittiness and hastiness in the sound. It isn’t quite rock, but it also isn’t pop or disco. I felt I was on a roller coaster where I could hear every bump and creak.
Somehow the three-minute song feels repetitive: You would not be able to count the number of times Gaga says “Perfect Illusion” because it feels as though she will never stop. There is a sudden key change halfway through, yet nothing different actually happens. It’s the same repetitive vocals with a variation in instrumentals. Overall, “Perfect Illusion” is a catchy song, but it lacks the depth and effervescence that accompanies a typical Gaga song.
How did a singer known for her uniqueness and talent release such an empty song? Perhaps because of the lack of commercial success of “Artpop,” Gaga felt as though she had something to prove: that she was able to attain another number one. It is trying way too hard to be commercially viable at a pivotal time in Gaga’s career. She just showed the world she is a fantastic singer this past year, but now she is conforming to the current musical standards that utilize strong, repetitive vocals and radio play to garner number-one hits. This may be why she recruited big-name pop producers such as Marc Ronson, Blood Pop and Kevin Parker from Tame Impala. Ronson described “Perfect Illusion” in an interview as bigger than “Bad Romance,” but I could not disagree more.
“Bad Romance” changed the pop music industry upon its release. Its music video has been rated the best music video of all time by Billboard and Rolling Stone. While it is a catchy dance song, it also has the substance and emotion backing it that makes a song more than a song. It’s the kind of song that you can blast on a late-night drive that delivers an overwhelmingly pleasant rush of emotions. “Perfect Illusion” lacks everything that “Bad Romance” possesses. While it is not necessarily a bad song, it will never mean more than that to me.
However, I still have hope for one of my former favorite singers after this disappointing single. Her fifth pop album, “Joanne,” will be released Oct. 21, and I am hopeful that it will not be as commercially-oriented as “Perfect Illusion.” Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Joanne is one of the singer’s middle names. It is the most personal album title yet, and also may pay homage to her late aunt of the same name. Gaga announced that the album will include a collaboration with Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, which promises to be stunning.
Lady Gaga was my favorite person growing up, and while she may no longer be one of my favorite singers, I am eager to see what “Joanne” brings. I know that she is one of the most talented artists out there, and I firmly believe that if she sticks to her voice and doesn’t rely on attempting to please the general public, the album can be sensational.