Over a decade into her career as a pop star, experimenting in synth-pop, EDM, country rock, jazz, and movie stardom, where else could Lady Gaga have gone in 2020? With Chromatica, finally released after delays due to COVID-19, Gaga has returned to the dance floor, finding solace in energetic 90s-inspired house beats that circle some of her darkest lyrics to date. “I’m tired of screaming at the top of my lungs,” she belts out in “Alice”. “I’m in a hole, I’m falling down.”
Gaga traverses Chromatica while recovering from past traumas, notably struggles with mental health and the suffocating side effects of fame. It can be jarring, listening to a pop diva allude to horrific events in her life while backed up by bouncy, BloodPop-produced music. But it also provides a thrilling, eye-opening experience as the songs transition flawlessly into one another through cinematic orchestral interludes.
Chromatica is epic, but it won’t be for everyone; perhaps for those who loved Gaga’s versatility and powerhouse vocals from her Oscar-nominated turn in A Star Is Born. Gaga’s unique voice goes hand-in-hand with Chromatica’s flashy musical production, but doesn’t give it as big of a chance to stretch and shine as past projects have. This release of fiery energy and pain seems to be a necessity for Gaga to put out, and possibly for those struggling with this difficult year as well. “Talk it out, babble on,” she commands on “Babylon” at the end of the album. “Battle for your life.”