Lady Gaga’s ‘Joanne’: We Pick Our Favorite Tracks
Lady Gaga‘s fifth studio LP Joanne is officially here. Of course, its arrival is not without a few bumps in the road, but still – we’ve made it. And in true Mother Monster fashion, the album is already ruffling many feathers, including perhaps Gaga’s own.
That’s why we here at Idolator have decided to join in on all of the fun and round up our album standouts. So in the interest of saving time (we know you’ve got a lot of Gaga #content to get through), we’re just going to jump right into it.
Read our thoughts below, and see if your favorites match up with ours.
Robbie Daw – “Joanne”
Whether you believe Lady Gaga achieved her own goal of successfully evolving her sound or not with Joanne, it’s hard to deny the emotional pull of the album’s understated, acoustic title track. The entire project is an homage to Joanne Gemanotta, the sister of Gaga’s father who died in 1974 at the age of 19 — a good 12 years before the singer was even born. That her aunt’s spirit is hanging over the album goes a long way toward explaining the overall ’70s vibe of the material here.
Now, putting all the backstory aside, for me, fragile ballad “Joanne” hits the mark as far as simply being a really solid composition. It sounds like “Your Song”-era Elton John meets Carole King‘s Tapestry, while also remaining purely Gaga — and yet it’s unlike 99.9% of what Gaga’s given us before. I can imagine it being played on Top 40 and light FM radio alike. I can see it being played in a mall, and I can see it being played over movie credits. On top of all of this, it’s also a really simple, heartbreaking song.
I remember when Christina Aguilera pulled off something similar in 2002 with “Beautiful.” Here’s hoping Gaga has just as much luck.
Rachel Sonis — “Hey Girl”
Here’s the thing with this one – these are two of the biggest powerhouse vocalists of our time. But the beauty is in the restraint. It’s in the twinkling ’70s-tinged melody. It’s in the sheer fact that these women can easily try to outdo each other but choose not to. Instead, they simply have a conversation. Florence Welch coos, “Lady, is it lonely? I been calling out your name,” and Gaga replies, “Tell me that you need me/ ‘Cause I need you just the same.” There’s a respect there, a reverence for women by women. That doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, it’s really a sight to see.
I also really like “Grigio Girls.” I just wanted to put that out there.
Carl Williott — “A-YO”
I really liked this song, and then I realized it reminds me of Meghan Trainor. I can’t stand Meghan Trainor. But then I remembered I liked “No” the first time, before I realized it was Meghan Trainor. So maybe I like Meghan Trainor? But “A-YO!” It’s good because it’s fun. And because Gaga isn’t singing like she’s trying out for the school musical. And because, like “Hey Girl,” it’s fleshed out without trying to foist this whole “authentic” narrative onto the listener. So that’s why it’s my favorite song of the set, an opinion I expect to change at least three times in the near future.
Mike Wass — None
It would have been nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite song from The Fame or Fame Monster. Sophie had an easier choice than deciding between “Poker Face” and “Paparazzi” — or even worse, between “Bad Romance” and “Dance In The Dark.” I would have had much less trouble with ‘Born This Way’ (“The Edge Of Glory”), while the best track on ARTPOP is obviously “Gypsy.”
Joanne poses an entirely different dilemma. There’s nothing here that I want to add to my Gaga playlist (yes, I have one). The album is so contrived and unconvincing that even well-intentioned anthems like “Angel Down” fail to make a lasting impression. If forced to pick a favorite, I’d have to choose “Perfect Illusion.” It’s flawed, but there’s still a trace of the pop star I used to love in its ambition and howling chorus.