GAGA TAKES AN EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH ON NEW SINGLE ‘PERFECT ILLUSION.’ BUT DOES IT WORK?
Lady Gaga released her new single “Perfect Illusion” Friday, her first solo project since the release of the polarizing album “Artpop.” Hailed as a “dancefloor anthem” and “rock heavy” song, fans were ready to have their minds shattered and their expectations exceeded. To many, it appears this wasn’t the case.
When Lady Gaga announces a single, her “little monsters” get nostalgic. For many of us, the promotional duties surrounding the release of new music is just as important as the music itself. From the outfits to the interviews, the process and the spectacle is what we appreciate and it’s what we’ve been used to. However the feeling in the air is that the same girl who once said it was her desire to “shock” isn’t as interested in spectacle as her fans wish her to be.
It’s hard to tell how aware Gaga is of her fans wants and needs. When she worked with Tony Bennett on 2014’s Cheek to Cheek many monsters felt her pop career was over and some even took this as a betrayal. Two seasons of American Horror Story and a follow-up album with Mr. Bennett reaffirmed some fans’ worst fear – that not only was Gaga’s pop career “over,” but that she was entirely fine with it.
Many fans want commercial success but not at the sacrifice of the outlandish costumes and familiar floor-thumping beats. When Gaga announced in 2015 that she was reuniting with old friend and producer RedOne (responsible for “Pokerface,” “Just Dance,” and “Bad Romance”) media outlets and fans alike were elated. Sadly, their high hopes for the return of The Fame Monster didn’t last forever.
After months of silence, rumors went around that Mark Ronson was starting his work with Gaga on her new record…a record he would be executive producing. Starting? But we waited months? And what did this mean about her RedOne songs? Doesn’t she care about her career?
What these fans don’t seem to understand is that they have conflated their ambitions and aspiriations with what they perceive hers to be. Songs like “Bad Romance” and “Pokerface,” however catchy they were, did little to showcase Gaga’s artistry. The only people that knew she could sing were people who knew to search further, not casual fans.
Running at just over three minutes the song is over as quickly as it starts – and boy does it start quickly. By the time the pre-chorus rolls around, you realize that it’s actually the only chorus. After that, the song doesn’t offer much more. Just as the song gets its footing it reaches its conclusion, leaving fans to want more.
With “Perfect Illusion,” Gaga feels like she is trying to please her pop-oriented fans while proving to music fans (and more importantly herself) that she can put out music that is both catchy and reflective of her capabilities. What worries some fans is that this is a sign that the best she has to offer is behind us. What worries me is that Gaga might continue trying to bridge the gap instead of fully letting go of her fans’ expectations.
I would be lying if I didn’t say it feels like the song is missing something – that secret component that takes a song from being good to being something special. Does Gaga have it in her to produce something special anymore? Her still-untitled studio album is scheduled for a 2016 release, so fans will have to wait just a bit longer for that killer pop chorus we all know she’s capable of.