It Was A Perfect Allusion: 5 of Lady Gaga's Best Indirect References on 'Joanne'
Lady Gaga's fourth album Joanne -- a stylistically eclectic of collection of swaggering rock, introspective ballads and soulful, danceable grooves -- is finally here, and we've been jamming to it since it dropped Friday (Oct. 21).
Her most personal LP yet, Gaga makes a number of personal, cultural and political references on Joanne. Some are direct -- she names one song after iconic silver screen cowboy John Wayne, and the album's title refers to her late aunt, Joanne Germanotta -- while other references on Joanne are a bit more roundabout.
In honor of lead single "Perfect Illusion," we decided to highlight five perfect allusions from Lady Gaga's Joanne.
In the grand tradition of empowering songs about masturbation (which traces back to Cyndi Lauper's explosive "She Bop") comes Gaga's brilliantly titled "Dancin' in Circles," which finds the narrator fantasizing about a past lover while getting funky "downtown" alone late at night. "I lay around, touch myself to pass the time," Gaga sings, alluding to the Divinyls' classic 1990 ode to masturbation "I Touch Myself."
Gaga comes from a Catholic Italian background, so naturally the Bible crops up on an album this personal. On "Come to Mama," Gaga alludes to both the Old and New Testaments: There's the Noah-referencing lyric about "a forty-day flood," while "stop throwin' stones at your sisters and your brothers" calls back to Jesus' moral aphorism, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
The catalog of the late David Bowie may very well be Lady Gaga's personal Bible when it comes to creative inspiration. So while the lyric in "Diamond Heart" about "young, wild American" might not read like a Bowie allusion if this song came from, say, Britney Spears, when Gaga sings it, it's a good bet she's winking at her hero's 1975 classic "Young Americans."
He's not explicitly mentioned in Gaga's "Angel Down," but Gaga revealed in an interview with Beats 1's Zane Lowe that "Angel Down" was inspired by Trayvon Martin's 2012 murder by George Zimmerman. "I was overwhelmed by the fact that people just stood around and didn’t do anything about it and that the justice system continues to over and over again not seek justice for these families," Gaga explained. The song -- which appears twice on the deluxe edition of Joanne -- features the lyrics, "Shots were fired down the street / By the church where we used to meet / Angel down, angel down / But the people just stood around."
New York's Counterfeit Merchandise Market
On "Sinner's Prayer," Gaga sings, "Her love for him ain't cheap / But it breaks just like a knockoff piece / From Fulton Street," alluding to one of the many Manhattan locations where you can get less expensive (and less-than-legit) versions of name-brand products.