‘Chromatica’ review: Lady Gaga’s euphoric dance-pop return’s her best album in a decade

The album released Friday delivers on its energetic, empowering concept, making it Mother Monster’s catchiest and most cohesive body of work since 2011’s ‘Born This Way.’

SHARE ‘Chromatica’ review: Lady Gaga’s euphoric dance-pop return’s her best album in a decade
Lady Gaga’s new album’s a winner.

Lady Gaga’s new album’s a winner.

Getty Images

Twelve years ago, an unknown singer in a disco-ball bra told us it’s gonna be OK. 

The artist was Lady Gaga, and the message came by way of her infectious debut single “Just Dance,” her first of four No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Flash forward to 2020, and that blissfully carefree chorus couldn’t seem further from the truth. 

We live in a dystopian hellscape. A deadly virus is forcing us inside, our president is tweeting threats of violence against protesters, and police are continuing to kill unarmed black men and women.

It hardly seems like an optimal, let alone appropriate time to release an album full of sweaty dance-floor bangers. But after months of song and track list leaks, Gaga had no choice but to unleash “Chromatica” on the world this weekend — and we’re all much better for it. 

“Chromatica” by Lady Gaga.

“Chromatica” by Lady Gaga.


“Chromatica,” released Friday, is her first solo effort since 2016’s “Joanne,” a well-intentioned but mostly forgettable foray into earnest country-pop. (The aching title track is an all-timer, but the less said about “Million Reasons” the better.)

In that nearly four-year span between albums, Gaga has managed to headline the Super Bowl halftime show, play dual Las Vegas residencies and win an Oscar for her signature (that is, memeable) “A Star Is Born” duet “Shallow,” performed with Bradley Cooper. 

But those were all red herrings for what she had in store on “Chromatica,” a Trojan horse of electro-pop earworms that, at 16 songs and 43 minutes, has virtually no fat.

Once again recruiting BloodPop for the bulk of co-writing and production duties — as well as European DJs Madeon, Axwell and Burns — Gaga delivers an album’s worth of four-to-the-floor anthems that are begging to be played at festivals and gay clubs whenever it is safe again to do so. 

After a brief, dramatic overture — the first of three strings interludes — Gaga launches into the album’s hypnotic opener “Alice,” invoking Lewis Carroll as she robotically beckons, “Take me home / take me to Wonderland, Wonderland.”

From there, the should-be hits keep coming: “Free Woman,” a euphoric thumper about reclaiming your space; the grimy “911,” in which she gets frank about antipsychotic medication; and “Fun Tonight,” a propulsive breakup anthem nodding to her earlier work (“You love the paparazzi, love the fame”). 

Like her pop forebears Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson and, more recently, Dua Lipa, on her throwback sophomore effort “Future Nostalgia,” Gaga’s “Chromatica” is indebted to ’90s house music, with its swirling synths (“Replay”) and woozy horn loops (“Enigma,” a soaring standout).

Her sultry “Sour Candy,” with K-pop girl group Blackpink, is the best of the album’s three collaborations, which occasionally are hampered by frustratingly vague lyrics despite reliable vocal turns from Ariana Grande (“Rain on Me”) and Elton John (“Sine From Above”). 

In lead-up interviews and music videos for “Chromatica,” Gaga has painted the album as its own utopian musical universe: a steampunk sci-fi world in which oddballs and outcasts can dance and love as they please.

But unlike 2013’s “Artpop,” a misunderstood misfire with similarly lofty ambitions, “Chromatica” delivers on its energetic, empowering concept, making it Mother Monster’s catchiest and most cohesive body of work since 2011’s hit-spawning ”Born This Way.” 

The Latest
Alex Alvarado, de 19 años, fue baleado el 20 de agosto y permaneció hospitalizado durante más de tres meses. Murió el 29 de noviembre, según la Oficina del Médico Forense del Condado de Cook.
El Departamento de Servicios Humanos dijo que el estado intervino mientras la Ciudad de Chicago continúa buscando vendedores de alimentos adicionales.
La Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Illinois comenzó a revisar el reporte de casi 800 páginas preparado por un consultor de la Municipalidad durante el fin de semana.
Nearly 30 community organizations and artists, most on the city’s West and South Sides, received grants from Mayor Brandon Johnson and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
Expanding existing leased space near City Hall is crucial for the reborn Department of Environment and a new civilian police oversight commission, committee members were told. But some members complained there’s vacant government-owned space in their wards.