Story by Kirsten Fedorowicz, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Andpop
I don’t think I had listened to an entire Lady Gaga album before I listened to “Joanne.”
Gaga wasn’t an artist that I had sought out, but was one that blended seamlessly into pop culture. I can distinctly remember dancing to “Bad Romance” at a middle school dance, listening to “Born This Way” while riding the bus to school. There was something delightful in how over the top her pop music was.
I don’t think I noticed the absence until Lady Gaga started coming back on the radio a couple months ago. Stations started playing her songs again, and the music felt like it was building up to a great reveal.
Gaga is known for her extreme behavior, from the wild hair to the dress made out of steaks that people still can’t seem to stop talking about. It is surprising to see the cover of “Joanne”: Gaga in a stylish pink hat, facing away from the viewer. Her shoulder and back tattoos are clear, and the calmness of the cover suggests a humanness fans haven’t seen from other album art. In preparation for this article, I watched the video for “Perfect Illusion,” where Gaga is wearing shorts and a tank top rather than an outlandish outfit.
This level of exposure seems to be a theme throughout the album. The title song, “Joanne,” is about an aunt who died of Lupus, and is heart-wrenchingly sad. “Million Reasons,” another beautiful ballad about a failing relationship is already climbing the charts.
There are a few songs in album that seem to be cries for social justice and kindness, including the gentle “Come to Mama” and the riveting “Angel Down.” Gaga has long been an activist in the LGBTQ+ community, but the first time her activism came to her music was with the release of a song called “‘Till it Happens to You” for the film “The Hunting Ground” about sexual assault. It is fun to see her bring that energy and passion into her music. “Hey Girl,” a duet with Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, is a same-sex love song.
Gaga seems to be drawing on more folk-style rock and Tom Petty-like roots for “Grigio Girls” and “Sinner’s Prayer.”
There are songs that are more typical Gaga-style, including “Perfect Illusion” and “Dancin’ in Circles.” My personal favorite out of this bunch would be “A-YO,” a fun, bouncy pop song.
“Joanne” is worth a listen, or several. It’s the kind of album that can be stuck in your head for days, but you never really mind. There’s enough variety to get you through work, classes, and any remaining free time you might have. “Joanne” gives listeners all the feelings, and makes emotions feel brilliant.