I’ll admit it, in High School I was a big Lady Gaga fan. And I mean big, like Born This Way (the album), was my religion. I would listen to that album every second I could, there was just something about it that spoke to me. Now I’m not bowing down to Gaga the way I used to, but I still enjoy her; I’ll listen to Fame Monster or something every now and then just to revisit. But today of course is the release of her new album, Joanne, an album that unlike some of her previous releases (Artpop era I’m looking at you), was announced pretty recently and quickly pushed out a few singles before it’s release. It’s 11:45 now and I just finished listening to the deluxe version of the album so I thought, like I did when new Britney came out, I would rank all the Gaga albums from my least favorite down to my favorite. Thought it would maybe be nice to take a break from all the blood and guts just a for a second, so as Gaga would say in A-YO … here we go!
5. ARTPOP (2013)
I’ll never forget the anticipation I had for this album when it was slowly being released. Like I said, I was in love with Born This Way, thought it was a masterpiece at the time, and was ready for the next chapter. I honestly really don’t know what I expected firstly because it’s Gaga and she can be so unpredictable but also did I guess I expected a BTW part 2? Well either way, BTW part 2 is not what ARTPOP was or is. ARTPOP is definitely the strangest album Gaga’s ever put out (which is saying a lot), it’s got an odd blend of songs about fashion, sex and space?? I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to put this last because there actually are some really solid EDM/dance Gaga songs on here (Venus, G.U.Y., Mary Jane Holland, etc.), but when you think of the album as a whole, it’s a mess. There’s a great blog out there that I really like called Hardinthecity that kind of reviewed ARTPOP and rearranged the album by cutting out certain songs and moving others around so they play better and honestly it’s the only way I listen to the album now. They perfectly captured what I think the album was trying to be?? Anyway, here’s the link if you want to read it, which I think you should….Rearranging ‘Artpop’: An Edit of Lady GaGa’s Latest.
It’s interesting because I really like where this album was going in the beginning with Venus and G.U.Y., where we have this sort of sexual space journey thing, I bought it completely! But then we sort of take a left turn into this weird blend of bad rap songs and mediocre sex songs. The biggest flaw of this album for me is the lack of focus, which was an issue for Born This Way too, but somehow I felt it worked better there. I would’ve liked to stick with the space like theme a little longer rather than just with two songs. And sure the sex songs can stay and maybe one or two of the fashion songs, but have them interwoven with the overall theme. That’s why in the end I decided to stick ARTPOP in last place, it has some great songs here and there but overall it’s a mess that can be hard to sit through at times.
4. Joanne (2016)
I just finished listening to this album about a half hour ago, so all of it is still fresh in my head. My thoughts as a whole on this album are very mixed and I was actually considering maybe putting it at #5, but I think it’s just a little better than ARTPOP, so I’ll let it stay here. The idea that I liked about this whole album initially was the fact that Gaga was trying something new, which I think is a great step for her. I love when an artist tries something new musically because it shows range and even if it doesn’t work out at least they were willing to go there. But as far as the turnout of the album itself, I think it’s just fine. I think it has a strong first half, once you get to the 8th track, Sinner’s Prayer, things started to get a little mixed for me. I think Sinner’s Prayer and Come To Mama have to be two of my least favorite songs on here and I’m not entirely sure why. I think when I heard them I just felt a sense of underwhelm and I just wasn’t feeling either of the those songs. One that I was actually looking forward to was Hey Girl, which features Florence Welch from Florence + the Machine, and I think it’s fun, I think I expected more from a duet with them but it does the job for the most part. Then there’s the closing track (on the deluxe only I think), Just Another Day, which sounds straight out of A Hard Day’s Night or something, which I don’t know if that’s something I need from Gaga, but it’s alright. That was my main issue, kind of like I said, it’s all just okay, there was nothing that majorly stood out to me. I really liked Dancin’ In Circles and the title track; Perfect Illusion is fun but I don’t know if it really fits in this album actually, and Million Reasons is a nice little country type ballad. So really I think it’s not necessarily bad, it’s just fine..but maybe after a few more listens I’ll get to like it a little more, we’ll see.
3. Born This Way (2011)
Like I said, I lived by this album in High School, and I’m pretty sure I still know all the words from listening to every song so many damn times. Looking at it now, it’s definitely not the masterpiece I once thought it was, it’s fun but it’s definitely got flaws. One flaw being that this album is just all over the place, we explore a song about hair and a song about a highway unicorn, it’s a wild ride. But isn’t messy in the way ARTPOP was where it felt like there was no cohesion to the album, here at least we get the feeling Gaga tried to kind of make this an experience about being a wild child (hence the song Bad Kids), and she kind of explores a lot of different sides of herself. Some of my favorites are Marry the Night, the oddball Government Hooker, Bloody Mary, Heavy Metal Lover and Edge of Glory. I think listening to it again, the title track is maybe a tad overrated? The message is nice but it’s definitely a mess of a song production wise. If you’d asked me what the best Gaga album was back when I was a freshman I would’ve almost immediately told you this was the one, but now I see it as something that I loved at a certain moment in time and it was fun but it’s really just nice little dance album from 2011, what a time to be alive for music.
2. The Fame (2008)
This is the Gaga I’m most nostalgic for. This is the Gaga that everyone was introduced, this is when the whole facade of the costumes and craziness started. Releasing Just Dance as her first single, I’ll never forget it, that song just oozed ’08 and kind of that pop dance music that was coming out at the time. It’s definitely her most straight up pop album with Poker Face, Paparazzi and Eh Eh. This is the album that I listen to a lot these days and I think it’s mainly just because it brings up so many memories, it came out when I was a certain age where I was growing up and going through puberty and all that good ole teenage stuff that was starting to happen. Poker Face and Paparazzi were probably the two I listened to the most, although I did love Beautiful Dirty Rich as well and Money Honey (you get your fill of money songs on here). Paper Gangsa is another fun one that I don’t think anyone ever really listened to much, it’s definitely cheesy and a little much but I enjoy it. There’s not much else to say about The Fame other than that it’s definitely a fun little pop album from 2008, very of it’s time and the start of a character a lot of people wouldn’t forget.
1. The Fame Monster (2010)
This is when I remember really kind of falling in love with Gaga. Bad Romance, I think still her best song, was this big song when it came out and was what brought out the crazy side of Gaga that no one had really seen (crazy in the best way possible I mean). Sure, this isn’t a full album and you can come for me because of that but I think it deserves just as big of a spot as any of the other albums have. It’s just filled with so many great pop songs like Alejandro, Monster, Dance in the Dark, Telephone, Teeth, etc. And it borrows from so many artists that she loves, it feels like a love letter to pop in a way. This is that album I think of when someone says Gaga, it’s the one that defined her career with her dark sense of fashion and style, it’s a tight 8 tracks (not including the Bad Romance remix at the end), and it’s essential Gaga.
Well, hope you enjoyed the list and hope you get a chance to listen to Joanne at some point because I’m interested to know everyone’s thoughts on it.