This article contains too many or overly lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (May 2020)
|Studio album by|
|Released||May 29, 2020|
|Lady Gaga chronology|
|Lady Gaga studio album chronology|
|Singles from Chromatica|
Chromatica is the sixth studio album by American singer Lady Gaga. It was released on May 29, 2020, by Streamline and Interscope Records. Originally scheduled for April 10, 2020, the album's release was delayed for several weeks, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chromatica incorporates elements of dance-pop, EDM and other pop-focused genres. Gaga and BloodPop served as the album's executive producers. The themes of Chromatica include mental health, depression, loneliness, finding love through hardship, PTSD due to sexual assault, and self-worth; it stands in contrast with the music, which has an overall positive vibe. The album features guest vocals from Ariana Grande, Blackpink and Elton John.
The album's lead single "Stupid Love" achieved a top 10 placement on music charts in over 15 territories and reached number five in both the United Kingdom and United States. Its second single "Rain on Me" debuted at number one in the United Kingdom and the United States. "Sour Candy" was released as a promotional single a day ahead of the album's release. Chromatica received generally favorable reviews from contemporary music critics.
In press interviews after it was announced she would embark on one final performance of her 2016 Dive Bar Tour, Gaga hinted new music would be performed and released during the new leg's stop. However, the Dive Bar Tour performance was later postponed indefinitely due to scheduling conflicts. Later, Gaga hinted the release of new music during the globe-crossing Joanne World Tour, however, in an August 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the singer revealed that due to the constraints of the tour production, specifically the strictly-scheduled synchronization of its various technologies with the performances, there most likely will not be any new material performed on the Joanne World Tour, let alone any deviation from the structure of the show itself. It was also revealed in the same interview that production had begun on the follow up to Joanne, with Gaga offering that the album was still in the initial writing stage.
Talking about previous record Joanne, Gaga admitted that it was an album that she made for her father, trying to heal his and her family's trauma. She later realized she "can't fix [her] dad", and called the album a "futile effort" to heal him. Her disappointment drove her into depression and chain-smoking, and writing Chromatica was her way for healing. The singer later added that her failed relationships also served as inspiration for writing new songs, and talked about how she was in "a very dark place" when she started to work on them.
Talking about the album's title, Gaga described Chromatica as a planet where equality rules, and also as a location in her mind where all sounds and colors mix and stated: "I live on Chromatica, that is where I live. I went into my frame. I found Earth, I deleted it. Earth is canceled. I live on Chromatica." The dystopian planet of Chromatica appears in the music video for the song "Stupid Love", where Gaga portrays the warrior leader of the "kindness punks", and "follows a narrative about tribes battling for dominance in a world riddled with conflict". Gaga also confirmed how the concept of the planet Chromatica came about, saying:
"BloodPop brought it up, and we talked about how Chromatica was essentially on its own when you first look at it, it seems to be about colors and all the different colors and also music is made of a chromatic scale, you know? So it's all the colors, all the sounds, you know, so we, we're talking about inclusivity and life and also a lot of what we see around us and what we're experiencing is math, which is very much like music and sound is math as well. So we talked about that, and then I sort of went back and I said, 'OK, well, yeah, it's inclusivity but it's really a way of thinking,' you know, it's not just, 'Oh, Chromatica, we're being inclusive with all the colors, all the people,' and when I say, 'All the colors, all the people' I mean way more than we could possibly fathom."
A temporary cover art was released along with the album preorder, showcasing a symbol over a pink background. It received comparison to the yin and yang symbol. The singer explained that the Chromatica logo "has a sine wave in it, which is the mathematical symbol for sound. And, for me, sound is what healed me in my life period, and it healed me again making this record, and that is really what Chromatica is all about."
On April 5, 2020, the album's official cover was revealed. It shows the singer with "cotton candy pink" hair, wearing a "metallic bodysuit with spikes and studs sticking out of it", "a pair of platform boots with a tusk and a knife for its heels" and a "shoulder-to-fingertip sleeve covered in spikes" on one of her hands. She is attached to a large metal grate illuminated by "hot pink neon" light. It also involves the previously showcased Chromatica symbol. Trey Alston from MTV described the cover art as "part-Mad Max, Mortal Kombat, and cyber-punk fantasy", while Hilary Hughes from Billboard also found inspiration from the Alien films. The cover photograph was taken by German photographer Norbert Schoerner, with creative direction by Nicola Formichetti.
—Gaga on the production of the album
In the first seven months of 2018, Gaga was seen at various recording studios in and around Los Angeles and New York City. The earlier recording sessions have been attributed to post-production work for the soundtrack to Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born, a remake of the 1937 film of the same name in which she has top billing. The later recording sessions have mostly been attributed to further production for Chromatica. Producer BloodPop, who had co-produced every song on the standard edition of Gaga's previous studio album Joanne (2016), shared on various social media platforms that he and Gaga had been recording at the singer's Malibu estate with German electronic music producer Boys Noize. BloodPop continued to post similar updates through the entirety of 2019 and January 2020, indicating production had continued for nearly three years. In July 2018, experimental electronic music producer Sophie confirmed that she had contributed production work for the upcoming project; although, her collaboration did not make the final cut in the end.
In an interview with Beats 1's Zane Lowe, Gaga confirmed the album will be a dance record, saying "We are definitely dancing... I put all my heart, all my pain, all my messages from the other realm that I hear of... what they tell me to tell the world and I put it into music that I believe to be so fun and you know, energetically really pure. I want people to dance and feel happy. I would like to put out music that a big chunk of the world will hear, and it will become a part of their daily lives and make them happy every single day." She divulged how her intuition had evolved since the production of her last album, especially with the "real" and "honest" nature of this record's production virtually halting her inclination to second guess her creative output. Gaga also went into great detail about how the collaborative process of creating the album helped her overcome her internal struggles:
"We made a lot of the record in my studio house. So I have a house where it's Frank Zappa's old studio, it's a live room, it's a big studio, it's beautiful. And I would be upstairs on the porch, outside the kitchen, and Bloodpop would come up and he'd go, 'Okay, come on, that's enough, off the porch,' and I would cry and I would say, 'I'm miserable, I'm sad, I'm depressed,' and he'd go, 'I know, and we're gonna go make some music now. And then I'd go downstairs and I would write. This album is such a display of not only how you can reframe the way that you view the world, but I promise and I hope, that the love that was around me in the process of making this album is something that other people feel, that they know that artistically, like, you know how producers are, if one guy's working on it, or one girl's working on it, they don't want anyone else to work on it, they don't wanna share, they, everybody gets cocky, there was none of that. These records got passed around to so many different people, there were so many different iterations of these songs because we all wanted it to be perfect and literally nobody cared who put their fingerprints on it, as long as it was the dopest thing that we could give to the world and that it was meaningful, authentic, and completely me."
In an interview with Justin Moran of Paper magazine, released in March 2020, Gaga talked at length about numerous topics, including the recording process for Chromatica, and confirmed that BloodPop was the "centre" and her "nucleus" of production while creating the album and that he had a hand in the creation of every track. Gaga commented that the recording process for the album was made difficiult by her fibromyalgia, as the severe pain made her unable to "get off the couch" to compose and record the songs. She cited BloodPop as the main reason she was able to finish the work, as he motivated her to "push forward" to continue the process. Besides BloodPop, Gaga worked with a wide array of producers, such as Burns, Axwell of Swedish House Mafia, Skrillex, Madeon (who had previously worked with Gaga on her third studio album, Artpop), Tchami and Benjamin Rice, to create an album described as an "electronic tapestry" by Moran. In discussing the large collaborative atmosphere that enveloped the album's production, Gaga said, "It's easy to go into a computer and find a cool loop, but the producers I work with don't work this way. When they're inspired, they embroider things." She later added:
"I've been in this business a long time... I've never seen so many producers be willing to pass around music and be like 'What do you think, man?', and have it be a conversation. And if we didn't use somebody's production, it was no big deal... Everybody was in service of the song, which made me feel so loved, as the writer. Because when I write a song, I want it to sound the best that it could be, I also want it to interpret what I'm saying the best that it can interpret."
Gaga collaborated with Elton John on the song "Sine from Above". Talking about their work together, she described him as her "mentor" and explained how he played a significant role in her road to recovery: "Elton's always really challenged me to take care of my artistry and to really take care of myself. And I really, really honour that about him. He is so, so uniquely special. And I cannot tell you how instrumental in my life he's been to showing me that you can go all the way in life and... be authentic and be you and do good things in the world and take care of yourself and be there." The album also includes a collaboration with Ariana Grande on the track, "Rain On Me", whom Gaga described as an artist "who [had similarly experienced] immense trauma while in the public eye", which brought them together for the creation of the song. Gaga collaborated with K-Pop girl group Blackpink on a song titled "Sour Candy". In an interview for Japanese entertainment site TV Groove, Gaga stated that "when [she] called them and asked if they wanted to write a song with [her], they were so happy and motivated" and that she wanted "to celebrate them". The group's members sing in both English and Korean on the song.
Chromatica is a primarily '90s-influenced dance-pop, electropop, and synth-pop record, that also includes genres such as house, techno, disco, funk, trance, Eurodance, EDM and new wave music. It is a departure from the country-rock sound of its predecessor Joanne (2016) and a return to the music of her early albums. The most prevalent theme behind Chromatica is being able to feel happiness and dance to it even at the same time when experiencing difficulties and sorrow. It touches topics such as mental health, depression, loneliness, finding love through hardship, PTSD due to sexual assault, and self-worth. Despite dealing with dark themes, most of the songs have a positive vibe, as the singer intended to make an album that is enjoyable and danceable, but at the same time with a concept and meaning. Kory Grow from Rolling Stone referred to the music of the album as "therapy pop". Katherine St. Asaph from Pitchfork opined that while Joanne was also called the singer's most personal album, Chromatica fits that description much better: "Joanne was 'personal' in the same way all pop stars' unplugged albums get called that: the arrangements had acoustic guitar, and the AutoTune was kept to a tasteful touch-up. Chromatica loses the guitars but certainly handles heavy subject matter."
The album is divided into three unique segments and begins with a string arrangement, "Chromatica I", which the singer described this way: "The beginning of the album symbolizes for me the beginning of my journey to healing. It goes right into this grave string arrangement, where you feel this sort of pending doom that is what happens if I face all the things that scare me. [It] is setting the stage for a more cinematic experience with this world that is how I make sense of things." This theme continues in the song "Alice" with the line "My name isn't Alice but I'll keep looking for Wonderland”, meaning that the singer is not giving up, she is "not throwing in the towel". The song talks about mental illness and Gaga's struggle to find a place where she belongs. Compared to "Gypsy Woman" by Crystal Waters, it is a '00s post-rave dance, house and electronica song that follows a '90s EDM beat with kick drums and shimmering synths that sees Gaga using her lighter high notes.
"Stupid Love" is a "disco-infused" dance-pop and electropop song, which is about the "joyful foolishness of loving someone" and gathering the courage to love again after a breakup. Talking about the song, Gaga said the following: "I’m pretty sure that when we all decide to be vulnerable, it’s really scary, and I think it’s very scary for a lot of people and there’s all kinds of laws and constructs and things that have built all around us and you know what?...I’d love for it to collapse as many of those walls as possible and people to be saying, ‘I want your Stupid Love. I love you.'" "Rain on Me" contains elements of French house, while blending multiple genres including dance-pop, disco, house and electropop. It features an upbeat production consisting of a synth-disco beat, catchy synth claps, steady bass lines, funk guitar strums and rolling synths. The song talks about "persevering through hardship" and healing, and uses the metaphor of rain for alcohol used to numb pain. It was described by Gaga as a "celebration of all the tears": "I sat with [Ariana] and we talked about our lives. It's two women having a conversation about how to keep going and how to be grateful for what you do." Vocally, it includes robotic spoken word deliveries by Gaga, Grande's "signature" high note octave, and the two of them "belting" their lines in the final chorus.
"Free Woman" is a euphoric Eurodance and house anthem, containing elements of acid house that was compared to "Love is Free" by Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique. The song sees the singer reclaiming her identity and gender after a sexual assault with a "rousing" chorus, a "fun" electronic beat, "catchy" melody, an EDM drop, and a midtempo gospel groove from a keyboard line. Gaga talked about the origin of the song, saying it "came from thinking on some days I was going to die. I was like, 'I'm going to die soon, so I better say something important.' Now I listen to it and know that I'm going to live." The song tackles her need to be with someone "in order to survive" while trying to be a free woman, a topic she discusses in the lyrics "I'm not nothing without a steady hand". "Fun Tonight" continues the Eurodance of its predecessor while also including electropop and dance music genres, with an EDM drop. It is categorized as a "breakup anthem" with mentions of fame and paparazzi. The song features a "melancholic" with an "emotional" vocal delivery by Gaga where Gaga uses falsetto in the chorus. According to Gaga, it is about how there were many nights when people who loved her would try to make her smile or be optimistic, but she had no ability to be happy while also seeing her reflect on the disconnection between her professional power and personal sadness. It was also described as a conversation between Stefani Germanotta and Lady Gaga.
The grand string swells of "Chromatica II" crescendo and swerve into "911", a Euro disco song dealing with the singer's antipsychotic medication. Compared to Daft Punk, the song sees Gaga using "robotic-like" vocal effects along a techno robo-funk groove, industrial synths, and a "trippy" chorus. In the verses Gaga lists how mental illnesses have affected the world around her while the choruses see her fully acknowledging her mental illness. In "Plastic Doll", Gaga confronts how she is objectified, comparing herself to a barbie by the way others have treated her. A catchy Eurodance and disco song, it features a punchy and scintillating production containing "synthetic" drum snaps where she delivers an anguished falsetto. "Sour Candy", Gaga's collaboration with Blackpink, sees the singers addressing a potential lover to not attempt to change their damage. The song is multilingual containing English and Korean and sour candy is used as a metaphor for how the singers function in a relationship. It is a blend of multiple genres including dance-pop, electropop, bubblegum pop and deep house and follows a house, dance and electronic beat. The groovy house and disco-influenced dance-pop anthem, "Enigma" emphasizes Gaga's desire for mystery. It sees Gaga telling a lover she can be anything they desire. The song features an electropop production including "woozy" horn loops "swirling" strings, '80s synths, "soaring" vocals and a "funky" '90s. backdrop while the middle of the chorus features drum kicks. The record continues with the hispanic-influenced French house, nu-disco and electropop track "Replay", that contains deep house elements, disco synths, and ghost-like vocals. It sees Gaga addressing her past and being in a unhealthy relationship with herself.
"Chromatica III", a "dramatic" string arrangement, was compared to the works of Hans Zimmer and goes into Gaga's collaboration with Elton John, "Sine from Above", that talks about the healing power of music and Gaga's relationship with a higher power. Influenced by electronica, it blends multiple genres including electropop, Euro disco, dance-pop, trance, and house music, while also featuring trance synths, a panpipe-inflected beat and includes a drum n' bass breakdown at the end of the song. "1000 Doves", a trance song, contains "sparkling" synths, a piano-driven house beat and "ethereal" backing vocals. A "graceful" cry for help, Gaga professes her love for her fans, wanting them to see her as a human. The album closer, "Babylon" is a disco-influenced '90s-house and hi-NRG track about gossip, something that "used to run" the singer's life and made her feel "small and chained". The song received comparisons to "Vogue" by Madonna. The Target and international deluxe edition contains bonus track "Love Me Right", a downtempo "vulnerable" song, differing from the songs on the album's standard edition.
In response to tabloid reports saying she might be pregnant, Gaga tweeted on March 12, 2019, "Rumors I'm pregnant? Yeah, I'm pregnant with #LG6." Several news outlets speculated the tweet alluded to a release within a nine-month window, the typical span of a human pregnancy, but the anniversary has since come and gone, proving the theory to be false. In October 2019, she jokingly announced via Twitter that the album would be called Adele after the English singer-songwriter of the same name. In January 2020, several news outlets reported that the album's lead single was scheduled to be released in early February, with the album's release following soon afterwards.
On March 2, 2020, Gaga announced the name of the album and that it will be released on April 10, 2020. The pre-order for Chromatica was made available with the announcement. On March 24, Gaga announced in a statement on Instagram and other platforms that the release would be postponed until later that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She later elaborated on the decision: "It's been a very difficult time for a lot of people, and we stopped the drop of the record and everything that we were doing because I really wanted to be more specific at one point. I wanted to do something to help the world, that was very focused. And working with the World Health Organization and Global Citizen [on the televised benefit concert, Together at Home] was a way for me to talk about kindness, and the things that I believe in, in a very focused way, as opposed to a more abstract way, which for me, is what Chromatica is."
The album was released on May 29, 2020. On the same day, Spotify unveiled "Welcome to Chromatica", an enhanced album, where the tracks of the album are interspersed with video messages of Gaga delivering her personal "Chromatica Manifesto", and exclusive photos and downloadable posters are also included. Gaga planned an album listening party on the day of the release, but postponed the event due to the protests for justice after the killing of George Floyd, saying that "our kindness is needed for the world today."
"Stupid Love" was released as the album's lead single on February 28, 2020. It received positive response from music critics, who compared it favorably to the singer's earlier works. Commercially it had a number five peak position both in the US and the UK. The accompanying music video was directed by Daniel Askill and was released on the same day as the single. The Target/deluxe edition bonus track Vitaclub Warehouse remix of the song was released on May 15, 2020.
"Rain on Me" was released as the album's second single on May 22, 2020. It received praise for the vocal skills of both Gaga and Ariana Grande, and for its uplifting nature. The accompanying music video, directed by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, was released on the afternoon of the same day. One day ahead of the album's release, Gaga released "Sour Candy", without any prior announcement as a promotional single.
On March 5, 2020, Gaga announced that she would embark on The Chromatica Ball tour to support the album. The limited six-date long, all-stadium concert series is currently scheduled to begin on July 24, 2020, and conclude on August 19, 2020, going to Saint-Denis, London, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, and East Rutherford.
|Album of the Year||75/100|
|The A.V. Club||B|
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has an average score of 78 based on 21 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Album of the Year sums up the critical consensus as a 75 out of 100. Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave the album 7.3 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus.
Jason Lipshutz of Billboard dubbed the album a "summer [escape] of the highest quality". Patrick Gomez of The A.V. Club gave the album a "B", writing that although it is "at times frenetic and disjointed", the songs are generally strong and varied. Michael Cragg from The Guardian gave the album a 4 out of 5, saying the album "represents not only Gaga’s most personal record, but her most straightforward" and compared it to the electropop from earlier works. However, he felt some songs ran too short on the album, and felt "claustrophobic" and "overworked". Katherine St. Asaph from Pitchfork opined that "the pop diva returns to her dance-pop days with a fabulously fun and deeply personal album that is at turns bizarre, theatrical, and ambitious." In a positive review from from Variety, Jem Aswad wrote that the album has "consistency and sonic unity, even as the songs wander thematically and melodically all over the map" as well as calling it a "rock-solid foundation for the next phase of [Gaga's] remarkable career". Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Leah Greenblatt thought that "nearly every one of its 13 tracks reaches for a kind of delirious excess: thunderous hard candy bangers designed to press on the brain’s pleasure centers until they submit, again and again, to the replay button." Hannah Mylrea of NME gave a positive review calling the album "pure joy" specifically calling the record's production "glossy." Katie Tymochenko of Exclaim! stated that "Chromatica proves that Gaga is back and better than ever." In its review, Forbes wrote that Gaga revived pop music, further stating, "The bravery in her songwriting, the effort in honing electro-pop perfection, and the transitions between the tracks make it pop's strongest album of the year."
Furthering with positive reviews, Nick Smith of musicOMH concluded his review by saying: "There may not be anything really new here, but why mess with this formula when it can produce such engaging slaps and dancefloor empowerment?" Kory Grow from Rolling Stone thought that "mostly, Gaga has focused Chromatica's spectrum on the kind of body-moving music that comes naturally to her" and said that "her pop renaissance couldn’t come at a better time." Clash gave the album a rating of 8/10 stating, "Across its sixteen tracks, Chromatica is entirely over-the-top, but in the best possible way. Every song is an anthem of defiance and empowerment, turned up to 11 and genetically engineered for maximum danceability." Alexandra Pollard of The Independent called it "extravagant" but "overblown" but suspected that "it will keep revealing itself over time." The Telegraph's Neil McCormick wrote that "Chromatica offers Gaga at her most energetic and forceful, and that is something to behold." Writing for PopMatters, Evan Sawdey called the album a "full-bore masterwork" praising the song's music choice and lyrical content.
In a mixed review from Slant Magazine, Sal Cinquemani wrote that Gaga "continues to mine the same territory, both musically and conceptually, suggests the empress truly has no clothes." Simon K. of Sputnikmusic also gave a mixed review writing that it is a "solid" return but is too "indecisive." Jeremy J. Fisette from Beats Per Minute gave the album a 64 out of 100 rating, and said that the production "becomes a bit samey by record's end, leading to a dull predictability", although "Gaga's vocals [...] save the day much of the time." Dan Weiss from Spin highlighted some of the songs with "slam dunk" hooks, but overall criticized the music for being "unnecessarily disciplined", and called it "her least sonically diverse album ever."
|4.||"Rain on Me" (with Ariana Grande)||3:02|
|10.||"Sour Candy" (with Blackpink)||2:37|
|14.||"Sine from Above" (with Elton John)||4:04|
|17.||"Stupid Love" (Ellis remix)||4:11|
|17.||"Love Me Right"||2:51|
|18.||"1000 Doves" (Piano demo)||2:49|
|19.||"Stupid Love" (Vitaclub Warehouse mix)||3:41|
|20.||"Stupid Love" (Ellis remix)||4:11|
|Japanese Albums (Oricon)||3|
|Japan Hot Albums (Billboard Japan)||3|
|Various||May 29, 2020||Standard||Interscope|||
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