When Lady Gaga releases a new album, it is expected lots of strong and diverse opinions will follow. The pop star came back last week with a completely different style on the record Joanne. A Bit of Pop Music’s review described the album as an interesting reinvention and title track ‘Joanne’, a soaring acoustic ballad about her late aunt, was named the best song of the record. Now it is time to let our panel members speak their mind. What are their thoughts on Joanne and which song do they like best?
Raven (18), Myanmar
“After a long relentless silence since dropping her last album ARTPOP, Mother Monster has finally risen from the ashes. Now, upon hearing Joanne, I am cold-heartedly very sad to say that I did not really enjoy it. Perhaps my heart is still clinging on to my own beloved nostalgic version of Queen of Pop Gaga back in the golden days, refusing to accept the fact that she has evolved into something else. Gone are the days of her catchy pop tunes. However, with that being said, I did have one song that I really liked and that stood out to me: ‘Dancin’ in Circles’. The mixture of reggae and ska appealed to me and forced my mood to enter a state of trance. The beats then invited my body to move along with them and the next thing I know, I am already rolling my body along to the music with hints of merengue spice here and there. Of course, in harmony to the music, Gaga’s distinct strong vocals never get old and will never disappoint as she starts repeating the “Tap down those boots, while I beat around, Let’s funk downtown.” As she commences to sing the verses and the chorus, she sounds sexy and very enticing. What’s sexier than Gaga’s very own ode to sexual desires and masturbation, am I right? Haha. One of the reasons I like it so much is probably because it is reminiscent of ‘Alejandro’ to me (again, for the love of god Gaga, I miss those days so much). ‘Dancin’ in Circles’ is starting to definitely grow on me, but in the mean time, I am off to go listen to ‘Bad Romance’!”
Marjolein (21), The Netherlands
“I was really looking forward to the new album by Lady Gaga. Finally some new music! The album sure is something completely different from her. She dropped the electronic pop style of her earlier work and luckily she uses a lot less autotune these days. While the album has a few true pearls, like ‘Million Reasons’, ‘Sinner’s Prayer’, ‘Perfect Illusion’ and ‘Joanne’, there are also a few tracks that I don’t particularly enjoy. My absolute favorite is ‘Million Reasons’. Gaga’s beautiful vocals completely fill up your room. The track was love at first sight for me. Her raw vocals touch you and the chorus sticks. Although I do not enjoy every track on the record, Joanne is a job well done by Lady Gaga.”
Jarrod (24), New Zealand
“I have start off by saying I’m disappointed with the direction Gaga is going in with this era. Not because I don’t enjoy folk/rock/pop mixture of music, but because it’s clearly not something she excels in. After the underwhelming response to ARTPOP from the general public, you’d think she’d come back full force ready to take back that top spot amongst her contemporaries, but instead she copped out and made a ‘personal’ album with no obvious hits. Gaga’s cultivated a strong enough fan base to sustain a career as a pop star for many years to come. Hopefully she doesn’t take advantage of that by releasing more subpar albums like this. It seems that this era only her fans care about what she does and the general public isn’t paying attention. Personally, I don’t want anything she’s already done but I do want hits from her. If she’s not going to give us hits, she could at least start a conversation on something important through her music. It would be much appreciated if she would let her music speak for itself and stopped making her music seem deeper than it actually is. If it’s a gut wrenching song we should feel that emotion when listening to it not because we’ve heard an elaborate back story about it from her. If I have to choose one track, ‘Angel Down’ is my favorite.”
Gus (24), Brazil
“With this album, it feels like we hear Stefani Germanotta for the first time and not Lady Gaga. I must confess, at first I was a bit reluctant when I saw the cover of the album. It looked more like an attempt to go indie and get a chew of the instagram generation with nicely filtered and produced artists (I’m looking at you FKA twigs. and Lana Del Rey). It turned out I was wrong and Joanne is a back to the roots kind of record. It is well produced and she does what she knows best: to sing! Her voice is the flagship and that sounds like a breath of fresh air after the more electronic sound she used to produce before. We get lyrics that are both poetic and easily digestible. My favourites are the catchy, fun and dynamic ‘Dancin’ In Circles’, ‘John Wayne’ with its country Rock vibe and a very loud chorus and her flawless vocal performance on ‘Million Reasons’. If I have to choose just one it is the confessional ‘Joanne’. All in all, I’d say Gaga is back with a solid album, vernacular in its essence, yet truly a sophisticated self-assured statement work that gives us a glimpse of who Stefani is. In this day and age, Joanne truly is a standout piece.”
Zuheir (25), Malaysia
“The one thing I’m gaga over with Gaga’s Joanne is how much she has grown. Of course, her sense of conscientious awareness in her previous albums is something to be admired, but on this album she decided to forego that and focus more on her personal struggles, which I find really mature in terms of her personal expression. ‘Million Reasons’ strikes me the most for how personal she got. The acoustic vibe complements really well with how raw her lyrics are. We all know how this song is about her tumultuous relationship with her ex fiancé so if that one line ‘I got a hundred million reasons to walk away, but baby I just need one good one to say’, doesn’t give you goosebumps, then you’re dead inside. As a person who was recently affected by the same problem, I feel everything that she puts out, and I can just feel her struggles in both her relationship, and on admitting publicly that that was the issue. Because of the level of connection I feel with this song, I think ‘Million Reasons’ is the best song on this album, if not her entire music career.”
Tim (26), The Netherlands
“It may not be as big as an event as it was five years ago, but I was still pretty excited about the release of Lady Gaga’s latest album. I was curious to find out what she had in store for us – how different from her previous stuff is it gonna be, is there any hit potential on it and mostly, is it good? My absolute highlight on Joanne came at the very end of it (although I REALLY dig album opener ‘Diamond Heart’). The closing track of the regular album version, ‘Angel Down’, is my favorite track by far. Typically, this is also the only RedOne production on the album – but don’t expect another ‘Poker Face’. ‘Angel Down’ is a raw and haunting ballad, with its lyrics containing a strong message of social criticism. The melody sends shivers down my spine, Gaga’s singing is completely on point and the lyrics are contemporary and relevant, but not-too-preachy. I’m gonna need some time to see if I’m still as touched by it when I’ve heard it a lot more, but in my current state of enthusiasm I say ‘Angel Down’ might be the best thing Gaga has ever done musically. That’s not something that applies to the entire album, though. There’s a few good tracks on it, and I appreciate that she didn’t succumb to the pressure of writing a hit for the sake of being a hit. But, that being said, there could’ve been a few more good hooks on there. For every good song, there’s also a song that I’m just not feeling or that is just… well, I don’t wanna say ‘bad’, so let’s say ‘underwhelming’. The album works as full body of work, though, and the whole rock-country-singer thing: Gaga can pull it off. At least she isn’t just trying to repeat herself.”
The panel has spoken! It seems the slower songs by Gaga these days are the most popular with two votes for album closer ‘Angel Down’, two for country ballad ‘Million Reasons’ and one for title track ‘Joanne’. Pop Gaga is still in style as well with one vote and a few positive mentions for ‘Dancin’ In Circles’. It turns out Lady Gaga’s new sonical direction is not for everyone, but I think we can agree on the fact we all admire her effort and courage!
Curious to read more of our panel? The members also shared their two cents on ‘Perfect Illusion’!
Would you like to be part of A Bit of Pop Music’s Fan Panel? Send a short bio and a short review on a recent pop release to firstname.lastname@example.org!