I’m not sure if I’m writing about me or Gaga, but I’m so happy that we are finally in a place where it’s fine to let your hair down, embrace the 90s hifi, add some 90s country influences – Sheryl Crow, Ace of Base, David Bowie, Swedish pop – all at the same time. It’s ok to mix the vocals super loud, add some Ableton sounds to remind us that it’s 2016. And then in the next track, it’s ok to flirt with early 2000s rock. Being an artist in your thirties right now means that we can admit we loved bad chart music in the 1990s and to go somewhere from there. Anywhere. We’re already through the door, baby. We can love indie boys and Versace in the same sentence. Gaga can wear passé denim shorts and laugh at the expectations of yet another outrageous meat dress. Come to Mama – this is the present. It’s mine. I’m loving it.
I found only 3 songs in Youtube from the new Gaga album and hated them all. But it’s no wonder since only 3 weeks ago I fell in love with her song ‘Judas’ from 2011. I think I’ve only heard her music in a video format and those she’s done very well. She should’ve done this album under another artist name and let Lady Gaga remain plastic ’cos it’s fantastic. “Judas Juda-a-aa!”
Joanne is alright. Nothing more nothing less. This is Gaga showing her roots, and in turn giving us an (un)welcome return to rootsy rock (no really). The songwriting is on the whole very good – though as an album it’s all too long. Here Gaga gives us some country, Elton, Macca and dollops of Bowie amongst a series of songs that do at times sound very familiar. One truly awful song even sounds like Ace of Base, which should appeal to the hipster fraternity. At it’s best (which is infrequent), Joanne could be a long play version of Laura Branigan’s ‘Self Control’ (yes, that good). Unfortunately, like so much pop nowadays, it’s full on (even on the softer numbers), which means it’s a bit much for a single sitting. Gaga takes every opportunity to oversing every note of every song, like she means it maaaan. And she probably just about does. Gaga enlists some trendy indie-A-listers too (it’s so in right now), which you can’t really hear on the record, though the biggest fingerprints belong to knob twiddler Mark Ronson. Depending on your view, this is a good or bad thing. Instead of choosing a clear line the Gaga/Ronson axis can’t decide which way to go; stick to the plain old country (which perhaps was the true statement Gaga wanted to make) or bring in some apparently (but not really) modern flourishes. Instead of being a concise record, this indecision in direction means Joanne at times comes across as a real confused mess. A good mess, but still, a mess. And this is the rub. Gaga is effortlessly talented, and there is enough here to suggest this could have been special – especially if they’d decided to not always paint in broad strokes. Joanne is good pop, in a humourless, lifeless, ‘this-is-the-real-me’ kinda way. Problem is, I don’t want a real Lady Gaga.