All images were obtained via the artists' Spotify.
2020 may be a terrible year, but the same simply cannot be said about the music that’s been released so far. New music is a great distraction from the COVID craziness that has consumed 2020, so over the course of the next five days, I will be reviewing my top five favorite albums from this summer in a countdown from number five (the “worst” of the group) to number one (the album of the summer). All of the music included in this five-part series was released from May 29, 2020, to Aug. 28, 2020, and this is part two.
#4) Chromatica – Lady Gaga
After breaking away from her traditional pop-scape back in 2017 with Joanne, Lady Gaga has returned with Chromatica, a blend of European house and Gaga’s signature pop.
Unfortunately, Chromatica isn’t all I expected, though that’s not to say that this is a bad album. It’s cohesive, I’ve listened to it approximately 40 times (according to Last.fm), and I don’t dislike any song here. Rather, I’ve actually found some of my favorites songs of the year on this record. The interludes are tasteful, and the transition from “Chromatica II” to “911” is legendary—I gasp every time the dark strings and bright horns flawlessly fade into the robotic “911,” with the synthetic guitar, pounding bass, and programmed drum pad that makes me want to shake my booty. “1000 Doves” is the definition sad disco, and the juxtaposition in “Engima” of the smooth instrumental and dramatic vocals from Gaga is ear candy. Though I wasn’t in love with the Ariana Grande collab at first, “Rain on Me” is definitely a grower; the wild, crooning guitar is addicting, and I never hesitate to attempt Grande’s ad-libs.
Speaking of collabs, all three of the tracks that feature other artists are exceptionally well-done, in part because the artists that were chosen to fit their respective features perfectly. BLACKPINK is the glue that holds together “Sour Candy,” their sassy vocals essential to the theme of embracing your imperfections. Additionally, even though I don’t quite understand what’s happening in “Sine From Above,” Gaga and Elton John’s voices are complementary to both each other and the solemn instrumental, plus I just can’t get this song out of my brain.
With all that said, “Babylon” is easily the best song on this album, and one of the greatest of the year. The choir, the saxophone, the word play?!?!?! Are we JOKING?!?!?! I’m in love! As Gaga commands, I absolutely will, no hesitation, “Strut it out, walk a mile / Serve it ancient-city style / Talk it out, babble on / Battle for your life, Babylon.”
Overall, Chromatica is just one of those albums where you listen to it again a few months later and say to yourself, “Wow, I forgot how good this is!” I hate to say it, but Chromatica isn’t anything new. Not that any music nowadays is truly original or has never been done before, but the “dance-away-the-trauma” subset of pop music is becoming old, and Gaga didn’t add her personal flare to it, thus creating a forgettable, albeit enjoyable, album.
7 / 10
Listen to Chromatica below!