The Path To Chromatica
After a seven-year retreat from the high-concept pop which thrust her into international superstardom, Lady Gaga is returning to her roots and embracing the club bangers, other-worldly visuals, and all-round eccentricity that were once synonymous with the singer.
Following the country-tinged Joanne and Oscar-winning A Star is Born, Mother Monster has stormed right back onto the dance-floor with Chromatica, which is poised to become Germanotta’s first all-out pop release since 2013’s ARTPOP.
Fans have experienced a taste of what her sixth solo LP has to offer, with the release of immensely catchy lead-single Stupid Love, and high-energy Ariana Grande collaboration Rain on Me. But as we enter an exciting new phase in the pop chameleon’s career, now feels like an optimal time to reflect on what came before — and who better to dissect the discography of Lady Gaga than her most dedicated LGBTQ+ super-fans?
Below, six self-proclaimed Little Monsters look back on Stefani’s body of work, revealing what each album means to them, and indeed, Gaga herself.
The Fame Monster
The Fame Monster was the album that undoubtedly changed my life. As a 12 year-old closeted guy growing up in a traditional household, queer expression was something that wasn’t natural. Not only did this album catapult Gaga into international stardom, it also made me (and millions of other closeted teens) have a current icon to look towards. The music is an expression of pain and fear in relationships - emotions regularly felt by a young person in the LGBT community. Not only is it cathartic to listen to, but it gives new meaning to these sentiments. It waves a flag for anyone battling their own demons, with Gaga showing that these can in fact give you the best and most successful years of your life. — Joe
Born This Way
To say something was “life changing” is a huge statement, but I would say the album Born This Way is one of the few things in my life that I’m certain had that kind of an impact on me. I was 14 years-old when the first single “Born This Way” was released, and as a closeted teenager, to hear the lyrics “no matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgender life” on the radio was a once unimaginable thing. Lady Gaga has taken risks her entire career, but to be at the height of your career and release an album essentially for the LGBTQ+ community was one of the biggest risks of all, and it payed off greatly. Born This Way is a record that introduced me to life-long friends I met because of our shared love for her music, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not been shown the possibility of acceptance for being different through Gaga and her music. - Daniele
As a gay individual, I resonate with ARTPOP the most. Back in 2013, I was just 17, had recently come out to my family and friends, and it was the peak of when I started to really explore and try to find myself as an individual. To this day, ARTPOP is the soundtrack to that time for me and in my eyes, it is one of her most experimentally diverse albums that just oozes electronic dance pop. As Gaga experimented a lot with this album by combining art with pop, it is a true creative journey as we listen through the entire album, as if she is trialling various genres into one piece of work and this in itself is unique and rare.
The bold album cover, created by Jeff Koons, focuses solely on the purpose of the album and reveals the true nature of what the album allows us to feel – the expression of art in pop. I feel as though this was executed perfectly by Gaga and has allowed us to see how she has transformed her hurt to make it something both exquisite and aesthetic. — Rob
Cheek to cheek
I swear I’m not being a snobby-poseur-bitch when I say this, but my favorite Gaga performance might be of her at Lincoln Center, wearing a red bodysuit and a “Moonstruck” Cher wig, belting her anatomy off to “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” It’s electric. It’s melodramatic. It’s all of Gaga’s camp instincts fossilized in jazzy, big-band amber. The recording of it is a bonus track on “Cheek to Cheek,” which is an album that Little Monsters overlook for various reasons.
And I get it! No one is going to sniff poppers to “Nature Boy” or experience queer loner catharsis to Gaga’s take on a Cole Porter standard. But the album made a case to the world that she was a real-deal scholar of music. Up until then, a critic would say that Gaga’s work was pastiche: she was trying to write an ABBA/Madonna/Springsteen song and she was trying to look like Bowie. But “Cheek to Cheek” proved that she was never cobbling together references—Gaga was the reference. She fully became the lounge singer persona dangling off a crooner’s arm, snapping along to a trombonist or whatever. Not even your out-of-touch dad could poke holes in her talent after that, so the least we can do next time we’re at the club is rage to “Anything Goes.” — Bowen
Joanne was the first Gaga era I experienced as an out gay man and so, it hit different. I loved BTW and Artpop but as a closeted teen, Gaga’s queer aesthetics made me publicly distance myself from her - irrationally fearful my inner Little Monster was exposing my secret. After coming out in 2016, my newly unfiltered self loved the raw edginess of ‘Perfect Illusion’ and sexuality of ‘Dancin' in Circles’. Early gay heartbreaks were soundtracked to ‘Million Reasons’ and ‘Diamond Heart’ while ‘Ayo’ was just fun!
Joanne gets a lot of heat for not having the club bangers of albums past and a Florence x Gaga collaboration not slaying was definitely odd, but it is Gaga's most cohesive album, consistently honest and beautiful open. Besides, if you haven’t strutted through an underground station, iced latte in hand, ‘John Wayne’ blasting through your ears, are you even gay? — Tom
A Star Is Born
A Star Is Born propelled Lady Gaga from pop megastar to fully-fledged actress, and the soundtrack released alongside it came at an incredibly important time in her career. The record really captures Gaga’s powerhouse vocals during ballads like ‘Always Remember Us This Way’ and ‘I’ll Never Love Again’, while also dipping back into her classic pop sound with ‘Heal Me’. In my view, this album solidified Gaga as a multi-talented force in the industry, who before now, had largely written her off as a one-trick pony. — Joshua