Written Before Listen
Lady Gaga is one of the most infamous pop artists of the 2010s. Known for her extreme Madonna influence and shock appeal while also having pretty strong musical talent. From what I’ve heard from Lady Gaga, I liked some of her early stuff, but her more recent folky stuff I’m not big on. With that being said, I heard that she got back in the swing of things with this album, so let’s see how well it turned out
Let’s start by talking about what I consider the most important aspect of this album, the production. For at least the most part. A lot of my favorite songs are due to the dystopian house music that backs it up. My least favorite songs are because of the more modern house tropes that ruin it. With a song like “Sour Candy”, we have a song like “Stupid Love” where I’m completely over with the vocal chops and loud bass one minute in. Overall, there are a lot of hits and misses on this album when it comes to production.
Lady Gaga is not the most chameleon-like musician, but there are different stages and phases in the Lady Gaga universe. There is the Electropop work of her early days, the Pop Rock of her more recent works, and now the position we’re here. She has truly gone back to her early work, but with an embrace of house music. Whether if it’s the current sounds of “Alice” and “Rain On Me”, the electro-influenced house of “Stupid Love” and “Plastic Doll”, the darker house of “911” or the tropical house of “Fun Tonight”. The main style that Lady Gaga chooses is the more European sound. Think of groups and artists like Pet Shop Boys, Aqua, and Eiffel 65. Just classic guilty pleasure house music that was all over the place in the 90s and 00s. In my own opinion, I’m not big on it. There’s a reason that sound stayed in the 90s and bringing it back is not worth it.
With this being a pop album from 2020, some features come into play. For example, the biggest hit on this album “Rain On Me” has a feature on it. Luckily, the three songs that have features on them are three of the best songs on the album. It’s not even because of the features, it’s because Lady Gaga knows how to work with each artist well. The BLACKPINK features song “Sour Candy” has a very dark sound to it that is completely different than your usual BLACKPINK or Lady Gaga track, but it works. My favorite song though is “Sine From Above” which features rock legend, Elton John. This is not even a piano rock switch on the album either. Elton John straight up sings over a Festival House track and it works perfectly. Surely it might not be the most important aspect of the album, but it’s my favorite.
Now let’s talk about what Lady Gaga is mainly known for, Her powerful vocals. Just like the production, it can work sometimes but most of the time it doesn’t. With a track like “Stupid Love”, the vocal performance is borderline awful but on “Alice” or “Sine From Above”, the vocals are triumphant. With a track like “911”, the robotic vocals are way too much but they fit perfectly on “Babylon”. What I’m trying to say here is that most of the time, Lady Gaga doesn’t know when to go overboard but when she goes overboard on the right spot, it goes great.
Honestly, I thought this album was mostly underperformed, but I do think it had some strong points. Like I said, the three songs that have features are great. The vocal performance on “Alice” was phenomenal. The robotic feel of “Babylon” was frightening and “Replay” is just a banger. The rest of the tracks on the other hand were rather just bad or didn’t do it for me. This is a definition of a hit-or-miss album.
Well, I might not like it a lot, but I feel like a lot of you people will. I will also say that you should check out the stronger tracks as they are some quality dance-pop. I just thought the tracks that weren’t good overshadowed the ones that were.
With this album being a remix album, we have a lot of new producers and vocalists. Let me tell you right now that artistic freedom is far-fetched than what Lady Gaga probably thought of. She brought some of the most left-field EDM producers in the game such as Arca, AG Cook, and Dorian Electra in the mix as well as newcomers such as Bree Runaway and Ashnikko. I will say, that nearly every remix is better than the original except for like 2, or 3. One of them is the overwhelming “Sine From Above” remix from three people I haven’t heard about until now. Let me tell you that the remix is hyper pop to the pure extreme to the point where the ending is the equivalence of 21st-century humor. Despite how I feel about Arca, I also think the “Rain On Me” remix is slightly worse than the original as its charm and upbeat vibe are taken away. Although the first “Babylon” remix is up to par, I don’t think the second one is. I’m not sure about going the funky direction on this one as it’s somehow campier than the original. Luckily this remix album has a lot of highlights. I liked the dystopian sounding “Alice” remix, I liked how Charli XCX & AG Cook turned “911” into a hyper pop banger, I like how “Sour Candy” sounds a little more club-oriented, I love the fantastic drop on “Enigma” and I loved how Dorian Electra flipped “Replay” into something brutally insane. It’s easy to say that I prefer this album over the original.
With a new sound, there are new influences. Surely the retro house influence is still prevalent but the influence is slightly diluted. There are more modern influences from the fields of EDM and Electronic Pop such as Deadmau5, 100 Gecs, and Charli XCX. It’s like the retro house sound has turned into something hyper pop-like. Honestly, this should get a re-release on PC Music. This album is ridiculous.