Lady Gaga’s Celebration of Healing

Jake Miller, Copy Editor

Lady Gaga is back. The pop icon has returned with her latest album, “Chromatica,” released on May 29. It marks her first dance record since 2013’s “ARTPOP”, after a years-long venture into country-influenced, singer/songwriter ballads. The album sees her dive into club-ready pop music, this time with a heavy house influence, that her fans have craved for years. Gaga has been through a lot in those past years: addiction recovery, sexual assault, and resulting trauma. “This music actually healed me,” she told Apple Music. Healing, for Gaga, means letting out all her emotions, dancing the night away, and reflecting on both the blessings in her life and how much stronger she has become as a person, something she hints at on the standout single “Rain On Me.”

“Rain On Me,” is an undeniable hit. Gaga joins forces with Ariana Grande, a woman who has certainly had a tumultuous and emotionally exhaustive past few years. In the song, the two recognize that “the thunder [is] coming down,” referencing life’s challenges, but “at least [they’re] alive.” If the message, a celebration of healing, was not infectious enough, the beat is impossible to resist. You cannot help but to dance your heart out. This feeling is present throughout the entire album; its production is stunning, a blend of nineties house and early 2000s glittery pop, complimenting Gaga’s powerful voice in a way that allows her to command the song. “Babylon” is another highlight. The song is straight out of an underground voguing club, an ode to thriving despite opposition from the haters. She instructs her listeners to “serve it ancient city style,” dismissing the gossip. Those who do not like you can “babble on” but you must “battle for your life, Babylon.” The wordplay is Gaga at her best: cheeky self-love and ready to party.

The album has its low points, as does pretty much any pop record these days. Most of the time, Gaga’s songwriting is a perfect blend of fun and reflective (“Fun Tonight” is particularly emblematic of this), but she occasionally stumbles into unoriginal lyricism. In “Alice,” she sings “My name isn’t Alice/But I’ll keep looking for Wonderland.” “Plastic Doll,” though delivering an important message about objectification, exemplifies similar usage of lazy figurative language. But the songs’ production saves them, as they are both irresistible dance tracks. The one time the album truly disappoints is on “Sine From Above” with Elton John. Despite being an artist who arguably paved the way for Gaga and her ostentatiously flamboyant peers, John feels out of place on the dance-heavy song.

Overall, “Chromatica” is a massive success. I must admit, I was at first a bit disappointed in the direction the album took. I missed the uber-controversial Gaga I grew up with and wanted an edgier sound from the record. It only took a couple listens to realize how wrong I was. “Chromatica” is a more experienced Gaga, finally ready to address her trauma outright and create an album dedicated to healing. It is undeniably fun and relevant. During a time when the world feels like it is falling apart, we could all use a good hour of dancing our worries away. “This is my dancefloor/I fought for,” she sings on “Free Woman.” She has certainly earned it.