After teases, delays, leaks, and surprise drops, the wait is finally over; Lady Gaga‘s sixth studio album Chromatica has finally arrived.
From front to back, Chromatica plays as a return to form for Gaga, as she not only embraces the dance pop that once made her a global superstar overnight, but twists it, splits it in half, sews it back together and reforms it as something else entirely. With thrilling production throughout (courtesy of her executive producer BloodPop) and some exceedingly personal songwriting, Chromatica is just about everything that fans could have hoped for.
But which of the album’s songs stand head and shoulder’s above the rest? Take a look at our definitive ranking of all 16 songs off of Lady Gaga’s Chromatica below:
16, 15, 14. “Chromatica I,” “Chromatica II,” & “Chromatica III”
Look, orchestral interludes are nice, if not unnecessary. On Chromatica, the numbered titular tracks serve like friendly act breaks, announcing a new musical movement of the album’s grand score. And while that’s all well and good, you can’t compare a few 30-second string sections with Gaga’s undeniable dance-pop.
13. “Free Woman”
On an album as musically coherent as Chromatica, “Free Woman” stands out as the truncated afterthought of a song. The beat is certainly fun, the melody is definitely catchy, but there’s nothing in the fabric of the song that passes the Gaga test of grabbing you by your shirt collar and refusing to let you go. Especially following up the massive energy of singles like “Stupid Love” and “Rain on Me,” “Free Woman” simply pales in comparison to the rest of the album’s impressive track list.
12. “Fun Tonight”
Imagine if Lady Gaga took “Edge of Glory,” slowed it down a touch, and removed a considerable portion of the fist-pumping production at it’s center — you don’t have to imagine, actually, since that song is named “Fun Tonight.” The songwriting ultimately counterbalances the underwhelming productions elements of this sobbing-on-the-dancefloor track, but it can’t save “Fun Tonight” from falling to the wayside early on.
11. “1000 Doves”
There’s something truly enjoyable about the way Gaga embraces cheesiness on “1000 Doves” — nowhere does the song feel like it’s aiming for subtlety, especially when Gaga exclaims lyrics like “I’ve been flying with some broken arms.” While the song is certainly a fun riff on a familiar Mother Monster trope, it eventually wears thin by minute three, becoming a quick example of a song that could have been easily cut from the album.
10. “Plastic Doll”
Throughout her career, Gaga has made it clear that of her favorite topics to write songs about, the concept of fame reigns supreme. “Plastic Doll” serves as an interesting new entry into her pantheon of songs about stardom, as she transforms herself into a Barbie-fied persona asking that the world stop toying with her. Gaga’s vocals shine through on this fun deep cut, boasting her voice’s near-elastic versatility and power.
At this point, comparing Lady Gaga to Madonna is a hackneyed tradition in modern pop music (Madonna would call it “reductive,” but same difference). But sometimes you can’t help it — album closer “Babylon” sounds so strikingly similar to “Vogue” that it’s practically unmissable; check out the two songs’ chunky piano lines, speak-sung choruses, and similar chord structures. It doesn’t matter much at the end of the day, since “Babylon” still ends up being an infectious track that will make you want to turn your living room into a runway.
8. “Sour Candy” (feat. Blackpink)
The impressive feat of “Sour Candy” is its ability to give each of the track’s five participants equal, well-balanced time in just two and a half short minutes. Jisoo, Lisa, Rosé and Jennie of Blackpink all get their opportunity to shine, with Gaga only appearing in the middle of the song to sing one pre-chorus and a verse. Even still, “Sour Candy” feels like it’s missing just a little something — had we gotten a slick rap verse from either Jennie or Lisa towards the song’s close, that could have rounded out an otherwise very fun track.
7. “Sine From Above” (ft. Elton John)
More than any other song on Chromatica, “Sine From Above” feels like Gaga’s mission statement for the album, even if it’s appearing just before the album’s close. She sings emotively about the power of music as an almost religious figure, and the song’s massive drop sends it shooting into outer space. Elton John’s assist on the track feels strange — the effects laid over his voice falter as it slips into an uncanny valley. And then, with just 30 seconds left, the track kicks into a confusing and ultimately unnecessary sonic overdrive. Still, “Sine From Above” feels special in a way that the previous tracks on this list simply don’t.
Remember how deliriously entertaining early 2000s post-rave dance music was? Lady Gaga certainly does as she exhibits on what essentially serves as the album opener, “Alice.” Referring back to her favorite Lewis Carroll character, Gaga throws listeners down a sonic rabbit hole of kick drums and shimmering synths as she declares over and over again that, while her name may not be “Alice,” she going to “keep looking for Wonderland.”
5. “Stupid Love”
There is no doubt that “Stupid Love” was the correct choice as Chromatica’s lead single. Even three months after hearing it for the first time, “Stupid Love” still offers spine-tingling pop euphoria on each listen. The drilling bass, mixed with the unbridled joy in Gaga’s voice, creates an emotional domino effect where you can help but smile as the song comes to its close. It may be the most saccharine of Chromatica’s songs by far, but that only works in its favor as Gaga storms her way back into the electro-pop arena.
It’s been a long six and a half years since Artpop was first released, and in that amount of time, Little Monsters have cemented it as the culturally misunderstood fan-favorite LP in her catalog. On “Enigma,” it’s almost as if Gaga is thanking those fans with a wink — the unflappable electropop production with a disco twist feels like it was lifted right from Artpop‘s cutting room floor. The lyrics, meanwhile, feel like they’re describing the feeling that surrounded the mythos of the infamous album, as Gaga’s growling voice declares “We could be anything you want.” The electrifying groove of “Enigma” will certainly have you up and dancing, and perhaps even giving Artpop the second chance it deserves.
Who knew that a song about antipsychotics could be so deeply great? “911” illustrates a fundemental truth about Lady Gaga — she is in her element when she is delivering camp. Even on a song about the very real struggle of dealing with mental illness and its subsequent medication, Gaga can’t help but turn it into the sleek, techno-groove stepdaughter of Born This Way fan favorite “Government Hooker.” The deeply satisfying production, courtesy of BloodPop and Madeon, mixed with some ridiculously clever songwriting from both producers, Gaga, and pop mainstay Justin Tranter make “911” an easy homerun.
2. “Rain on Me” (duet with Ariana Grande)
“Rain on Me” is not only a tour de force for Gaga’s production team (which it very clearly is), but a perfect example of a collaboration gone extremely right. Ariana Grande may not be the first name you think of pairing with Gaga, but the minute Gaga’s dramatic alto mixes with Grande’s airy soprano on the song’s second pre-chorus, everything just feels right. The incredible dance-disco production and uplifting songwriting help make the song great, but its the unmatched chemistry between the two pop divas that makes it one of Gaga’s best.
No, the title of Chromatica’s twelfth song is not just an instruction for which button you should press once the album has ended. “Replay” is nothing but pure, unadulterated fun, even when its lyrics are about being stuck in an unhealthy relationship with yourself. The ’70s disco groove, mixed with the deep house elements that BloodPop expertly weaved throughout the fabric of the album, makes for some of the most danceable music on the album. Meanwhile, lyrics like “Every single day, yeah, I dig a grave/ Then I sit inside it, wondering if I’ll behave” will cut to your emotional core while you’re still dancing. If that’s not enough, the final drop strikes like a lightning bolt, culminating into the perfect storm of dance-pop that fans have been eagerly awaiting from Lady Gaga for years.