Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (/ˈstɛfəniː dʒɜːrməˈnɒtə/ stef-ə-nee jur-mə-not-ə; born March 28, 1986), known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She performed initially in theater, appearing in high school plays, and studied at CAP21 through New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career. After leaving a rock band, participating in the Lower East Side‘s avant garde performance art circuit, and being dropped from a contract with Def Jam Recordings, Gaga worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. From there, recording artist Akonnoticed her vocal abilities and helped her to sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own KonLive Distribution.
Her debut album The Fame (2008) was a critical and commercial success that produced global chart-topping singles such as “Just Dance” and “Poker Face“. A follow-up extended play (EP), The Fame Monster (2009), was met with a similar reception and “Bad Romance“, “Telephone“, and “Alejandro” were released becoming successful singles. Her second full-length album Born This Waywas released in 2011, topping the charts in more than 20 countries, including the United States, where it sold over one million copies in its first week. The album produced the number-one single “Born This Way“. Her third album Artpop, released in 2013, topped the US charts and included the successful single “Applause“. In 2014, Gaga released a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek, which became her third consecutive number one in the United States. For her work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga won a Golden Globe Award in 2016.
With global album and single sales of 27 million and 146 million respectively, as of January 2016, she is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Her achievements include twelve Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, and six Grammy Awards. She is also the first artist to win the Songwriters Hall of Fame‘s Contemporary Icon Award. Other accolades include a Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (2011), regular appearances on Billboard‘s Artists of the Year lists and Forbes‘s power and earnings rankings. In 2013, Gaga finished second on Time‘s readers’ poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, while in 2015, she was named Billboard‘s Woman of the Year. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights and her own non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.
Diamond Heart—-Kicking off this very, very long awaited release, this first track is a slower drawn out song with a slight bass beat in the back drop…..then the song opens up a bit and reminds me why I have loved her for so long. This is an erratic romp through disco fueled back alleys…a bit moody despite the tempo…it still lifts you up out of your seat.
A-Yo—-Fairly dance floor friendly but with a slight Country twinge, this is a great ‘dirty’ sounding track that romps along at a great pace. The guitar is dirty and blistery….making me smile to myself. The chorus is a sing a long affair that leaves you with a great taste on your palate. I suspect Country music may be next?
Joanne—-By all accounts, this track was written for Gaga’s deceased aunt. The guitar intro is stripped down and bare…with subtle squeaks. The vocal is sad and the lyrics convey sadness and contemplation. This speaks of loss and hurt in a beautiful way. A touching tribute.It speaks of death in an incredibly healthy and beautiful way.
John Wayne—-With a very bizarre intro, this begins with another slight homage to Country sounds. The pace of the song is brilliant….I don’t care for the vocal manipulations….causing the track to be noisy and slightly abrasive. I like the feel….but this seemed like it belonged on ArtPop rather than this release.
Dancin’ In Circles—-After the little intro, Gaga enters with a strong and forceful vocal. The pace of the song reminds me of something from Abba or Ace Of Base. The whispered chorus seems quiet compared to the rest of the track. This is playful and fun…..but has not grown on me yet.
Perfect Illusion—-I have to admit, when I first heard this release as the first single. I was not impressed. The song does have an addictive quality to it though and after multiple listens it grows on you and becomes part of your memory bank. This is melodious…with nice back tracking vocals and a damn catchy chorus. I am glad I gave it a chance to grow on me.
Million Reasons—-With a very quiet and introspective bend to the track, the voice is very on show with this song. I love when the voice is at the very fore-front of the song like this. Gaga has a very powerful vocal and I suppose she has to rein it in a bit to prevent it from being to loud.This is a brilliant wonderful track. The lyrics are perfectly matched o the feeling of the song.
Sinner’s Prayer—-Beginning with an intro that sounds like it stepped from a 50’s cowboy show, this has a definite Country lean. The next release I can almost guarantee will explore Country music. This is not a bad song per se…but I really do not like the music. The lyrics are ok…but the feel of the song is a bit to quirky.
Come To Mama—-This takes a bit to settle in with your brain waves after the last track. If I have one main criticism with this release it is that stylistically it is ALL over the place. This has more of the Tony Bennett lean she explored the past few years with a 50’s doo-wop feel thrown in.
Hey Girl [w/ Florence Welch]—-One would not expect these two voices to meld together so well….but the end result is pretty phenomenal. I love the way they sing together. This could be a great future collaboration release. This is pure pop mastery….the recipe of switching lines work so well….the argument is who has the stronger vocal…lol. Combined this could very well be the best track on this release.
Angel Down—-Stripped down with bare piano and lyrics that really sink into your soul, this is another stand-out track on this release. The vocal is strong but sedate enough to be beautiful. The music has a ‘downbeat’ feel to it that settles in nice to my brain. I love the sentiment and the melancholy.
Grigio Girl—-This is an interesting track….not sure what it is about…but one can surmise. This has another slight Alt-Country feel to it that I much prefer to previous efforts at this genre. There is even a slight drawl to the vocal and a nice old record scratch sound floating through the backdrop of the song. This is brilliant. The huge end of the track is the best part!
Just Another Day—-With another slight nod to those bands aforementioned from Sweden, this has a nice pop reggae feel to it that makes you bounce along to the progression of the song. The vocal is exquisite….it seems to me, this release gets better as it progresses. I suspect we will be hearing much more of this is the next year or so. Mark Ronson allows his quirky knob turning to steal the show….and the horns are present as always.
Angel Down [ Work Tape ]—-This is not so different than the previously heard version….except that the vocal is much more beautiful and present. The slight musical swells are really incredible…but it would have been nice to have something than just this redux for the price of the ‘deluxe’ release.
**** out of 5