I’ll admit, I’ve never once heard an entire Lady Gaga album in my life. She’s just never been my speed, but I have always appreciated her immense talent. Whether you liked her music or not it’s hard to deny that she has an incredible musical touch. So with that being said, Joanne is my first full Gaga experience and I don’t have much to compare it to, outside of a handful of her songs.
Going in to this my picture of Gaga was one of a meticulously constructed persona that reveled in the extravagant and absurd; not just in music, but in her various appearances and performances. I knew her for her mega pop hits that were loud, intricate, and in your face. So I was surprised with what I heard on Joanne. Everything sounded so understated, subdued, and raw in comparison. I don’t know if the pressures of being a walking caricature got to her, but there’s been a clear decision to distance herself from pop mega-stardom in search of something more authentic. There is no “Poker Face” here. The result of this search for authenticity, came off as anything but however. She makes multiple attempts to employ country, folk, and other similar sounding sounds throughout the album, that just don’t work. Outside of a semi-successful “Million Reasons,” she just sounds out of place.
“Take my hand, stay Joanne
Ready for you
Of my aching heart
Needs you more
Than the angels do”
One area in particular I’ve always respected about Gaga is her songwriting. I think she’s one of the best modern songwriters in pop and it’s led to a slew a massive hits. Joanne still has some strong songwriting, more personal than ever, but her decision to move away from pop has produced vastly less interesting songs than her previous work. She even tries to pen a song about Trayvon Martin and the BLM, but it just doesn’t work or come off as very authentic. Which is how I felt about Joanne as a whole.
“Young, wild, American
Head full of Jameson
Girl’s playin’ bad ’cause it doesn’t pay to be good
A cruel king made me tough
Daddy’s girl’s never good enough”
Have you heard Joanne? What’d you think about it? Do you think this new direction worked? Did you think the music sounded authentic? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave a rating for the album.