We’ve had more than a week to sit with Lady Gaga’s Chromatica and it seems the world has fallen in love with pop Gaga once again. We’re likely going to regret this exercise but we’ve decided to rank all the song not including the Chromatica interludes because our knowledge of orchestral arrangements is limited.
13. 1000 Doves
Gaga spends most of the album playing with European club styles but on 1000 Doves she goes full EDM. It’s the blandest moment of the record, working better as a ballad on the Target edition.
12. Plastic Doll
Plastic Doll is one of the straight-up pop moments on the album and it’s cute. This one has one hell of a chorus but the doll metaphors become tiresome.
The house album opener comes running off Chromatica I super-charged. It leads us down the hole that is Chromatica and while it’s a valiant guide, it’s ultimately showing us towards something better.
Enigma is what we expect from a pop-Gaga record. It’s a mighty dance/pop song drenched in ’80s and ’90s references. The chorus is as camp as they come and it feels liberating every time. The reason for our low ranking? Gaga gave us more than what we expected on the rest of the album.
9. Fun Tonight
Fun Tonight is the heart of the album. Lyrically, it goes deeper than the others with Gaga singing about the breakdown of her relationship. “I can see it in your face, you don’t think I pull my weight,” she sings as the beat speeds up in the chorus. Gaga wants to have fun tonight but she’s got some shit to work through first. Thankfully by the end of the song we’re there.
8. Sour Candy (Feat. BLACKPINK)
Sour Candy may be the anomaly of the album. It’s a pulsating house cut that’s taken over by BLACKPINK’s militant delivery. They bring the personality in droves and offer Chromatica some of its most iconic lines – “I’m sour candy, so sweet then I get a little angry.” Mother Monster delivers one of the album’s strongest bridges on the way to an otherworldly chorus.
7. Free Woman
Free Woman is the most straight-forward song on the album but it also feels like Chromatica‘s mantra. “This is my dancefloor, I fought for,” Gaga sings, sounding the most renewed and powerful she has in years. Radio tends to shy away from clubbier pop moments so we’d be servicing this as the next single from the album.
Babylon is so Madonna that it feels like Gaga is purposefully trolling. She’s always been as expert referencer though and it feels satisfying to finally hear her tip her hat to Madonna now the pair have patched up their relationship. Babylon is ridiculous. A house-ballroom song for the ancient world that manages to slip in a line about music piracy. Pop got serious for a while so it’s strangely satisfying to hear Gaga singing nonsense.
5. Sine From Above (Feat. Elton John)
If you’d have asked us to rank this album before hearing it, we would’ve put this last. We expected a ballad but we were gifted the opposite. Gaga got Elton John on a pounding, trance-inspired song and it’s brilliant. The lyrics, which revolve around being guided by a sound (sine) from above, teeter on being too much but, like the whole song, excess is key.
4. Stupid Love
The song that re-introduced us to pop Gaga. It may be the oldest moment on the record but it still sounds fresh, like it’s heralding in the return of big, bold pop music on the radio. Gaga went even larger on the rest of the album but this was a gentle reminder that she can reclaim the pop crown whenever she wants.
Speaking of going bigger, Replay goes so hard it feels as if it’s going to blow up. Taking the same sort of disco-flavoured club sound that Dua Lipa played with on Future Nostalgia, Gaga turns up everything. It’s a dizzying, strange and hypnotic song that shatters the beat with its bass-rattling drop. I imagine there was a point in making Chromatica where Gaga could’ve dialled it back and gone full throttle. She clearly chose the latter and Replay benefits from being larger than life.
911 is not an obvious highlight. It rolls at a slower pace than the others and houses the least obvious chorus of the set. That’s the joy of it though. Like subtler Gaga moments Bloody Mary and Heavy Metal Lover, 911 builds a strange melody out of nowhere. It’s almost monotonal at points but she gently plays with the top line, adding vocal layers and manipulation. It’s all about anti-psychotics and she’s somehow managed to capture the mood shifts in this undulating song.
1. Rain On Me (Feat. Ariana Grande)
Of course, we were tempted to make 911 number one instead of this because the number one single from the album is an obvious choice. Rain On Me, however, is impossible to deny. This album was born from a low point in Gaga’s life. There’s something so powerful about two women who have really been through it, coming together to celebrate the struggle. Rain On Me doesn’t declare everything better, it simply acknowledges the pain and turns it into strength. It also helps that it’s all done on top of a sweeping and ethereal yet pumping beat.