BY SARAH OLSEN ’18
Lady Gaga reveals a new side of herself in her fifth studio album, “Joanne,” released Oct. 21, 2016. “Joanne” diverges from Gaga’s previous pop sound and embraces a raw, stripped-down version of Lady Gaga. The result is an honest album in which Gaga boldly expresses her natural self.
The album cover for “Joanne” reflects its simplistic sound. Gaga’s bare-skinned profile is featured against a basic blue background. The pink hat adorning her head is the only splash of color as Gaga calmly gazes to the side. The cover is less flashy in comparison to Lady Gaga’s previous album covers.
Unlike in her previous albums, Gaga’s vocals dominate the tracks of “Joanne.” Her voice is strong and soulful as she dabbles through a palette of musical genres.
The album opens with the powerful “Diamond Heart,” which sets the album’s overtone of unapologetic honesty. Gaga sings unflinchingly of her self-worth: “I’m not flawless/but you know I gotta diamond heart.”
In the following tracks Gaga explores themes of love, death and violence while remaining conscious of herself.
“Sinner’s Prayer” is a country track that opens with guitar twangs that grab at the listener’s ear. In the song Gaga claims the term of “sinner” as she prays for her lover to be her only one: “I am what I am/And I don’t want to break the heart of any other man.”
“Perfect Illusion,” one of the album’s singles, is also one of its few dance tracks. Gaga sings “It was a perfect illusion/you were a perfect illusion,” a possible reference to her previous image. The outrageous songs and costumes from her previous albums were merely an illusion and “Joanne” is the Mother Monster’s true identity.
The wisdom of Lady Gaga appears in the form of “Come to Mama.” The upbeat rock and roll medley matches perfectly with the lyrics’ message of love. “Everybody’s got to love each other/Stop throwin’ stones at your sisters and your brothers.”
Despite the difference in musical styles,“Come to Mama” and “Angel Down” both address the importance of acceptance and love. “Angel Down” is the question and “Come to Mama” is the reply.
The songs “Joanne” and “Angel Down” are the heart-wrenching tracks of the album. “Angel Down” bemoans the chaos and violence in society. Gaga sings of the loss of innocence and empathy in the lyrics “Angel down, Angel down/Why do people just stand around?”
Gaga wanted to create an album that could resonate with any audience. De-spite dappling in various genres, Gaga described the album’s sound in an interview with ABC News as “just my brand of pop.”
The album’s name is a tribute to Lady Gaga’s aunt, who died from complications of Lupus at 19. Despite having never met her aunt, Lady Gaga’s shares her middle name with Joanne and feels a connection to her.
In an interview with E! News, Lady Gaga said, “I’ve always used the fact that she didn’t get to live the rest of her life as a sense of strength and power within me ... I have to go out and live the rest for her.”
The track “Joanne,” is a moving plea for Lady Gaga’s aunt, Joanne, to remain with her loved ones. The song’s chorus, “Girl/Where do you think you’re goin’?” is a haunting reminder of life’s fragility.
“I’m figuring out all of those relationships in my life through the music, and going very deeply into it.” Gaga told ABC News. “It’s not a sad album. It’s an album that is very revealing of me as a woman.”