Pop Perspective: Lady Gaga’s “Perfect Illusion” Rated & Reviewed

Mike Wass | September 9, 2016 2:46 pm
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At Idolator, the editors share a passion for high-quality pop. Occasionally, our tastes align. Other times, not so much. So, in the spirit of debate (and online drama), we’ve developed a recurring feature called Pop Perspective. In a nutshell, our editors dissect a particularly noteworthy pop-event, and give it a rating out of 10.

That way you’re getting a full spectrum of views and we can all vent. (It’s cheaper than therapy!) The latest track to be dragged under the Idolator microscope is Lady Gaga’s iTunes-conquering comeback single “Perfect Illusion.” Is it a glorious return to form or an ARTPOP-sized misfire? Read our thoughts below.

Robbie Daw — 8/10

I don’t want to overthink this too much, but I’ve got this theory about “Perfect Illusion”: To properly enjoy this song, you need to a) first and foremost, play on bigger and better speakers than your iPhone or tinny-sounding laptop; b) attempt to remove your expectation of what “Perfect Illusion” should sound like, given Gaga’s back catalog — in other words, try to drown out your memories, if possible, of her vast array of dance-oriented hits; c) definitely be patient and listen to it a few times.

Whether “Perfect Illusion” is a flower that will bloom for the general public over repeat plays remains to be seen. It definitely sounds better upon the fourth and fifth listen than it did the first, and it’s absolutely different from the lead Gaga singles of yesteryear. Overall, the vocals are top notch, while the music on the track proves to be a subtle, if not left-of-center, gem.

I’m probably going to full-on dig this after a few more plays, though I’m not entirely sure. Isn’t that just like Gaga, though, keeping us perplexed and just a little frustrated? For that alone, I’m giving “Perfect Illusion” 8/10.

Rachel Sonis — 7.5/10

The first thing you notice on “Perfect Illusion” is Mother Monster’s vocals. She’s always had the pipes, but this is really a new level of ferocious. Between the key change and the strange “Queen’s English” accent she’s putting on in the chorus (“It wasn’t laaaaaaav.”), this pop-rock extravaganza is ultimate drama Gaga. Can you even imagine what the video for this is going to look like?

Though, I have to say, this song did take some getting used to. The brash guitar progressions, the arena-rock drums, the overall Pat Benatar vibe — it felt like stepping into alien territory at first listen. But once you get your sea legs, you begin to realize this much: Lady Gaga (with her army of A-list collaborators) is here to take back the throne. Whether you like it or not.

Mike Wass — 6/10

This reminds me of the Glee episode where the girls cover Bon Jovi and Kurt has his first gay kiss (or something like that). It’s cute and camp, but wholly unconvincing. After a three-year break, it’s kind of depressing to realize that Lady Gaga is still playing musical dress-up. And still light years away from recapturing the magic of her first two albums.

On the other hand, I like “Perfect Illusion” more than anything on ARTPOP. She deftly modernizes ’80s guitar pop and captures something genuinely euphoric in the chorus. This will please the faithful and win back some of her lost flock, but Mother Monster needs to do better if she’s going to return to the top rung of pop’s ladder alongside Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Rihanna.


What do you rate the song out of 10? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!