Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

Let's dance: The 10 songs that best showcase Lady Gaga’s musical journey

The US pop star recently dropped her new album 'Chromatica', a return to her earlier pop stylings

Lady Gaga has built a formidable career over the past decade. EPA
Lady Gaga has built a formidable career over the past decade. EPA

Lady Gaga is back on top. Her sixth album, Chromatica, is number one on the US charts and finds her embracing the carefree pop sounds that beguiled us more than a decade ago.

It has been quite a journey. For the past 12 years, Gaga traversed various creative landscapes ranging from Europop and American standards to folk music.

Here are 10 songs that best showcase that evolution.

1. 'Just Dance' (2008)

The party began here. Gaga's debut single established the turbo-charged Europop template she followed for the first five years of her career. Alongside the chunky synths and anthemic chorus, what stands out here is Gaga's hunger. She knew this was her chance to shine and she delivered with a belter of a performance. That said, let's have a moment of silence for the career of Let's Dance guest artist Colby O'Donis. The US singer inexplicably didn't manage to ride the wave of the song's success and hasn't released an album since 2008.

2. 'Poker Face' (2008)

Where Let's Dance proved Gaga's mettle as a singer, Poker Face is where she established herself as a talented songwriter. Gaga demonstrated an adherence to timeless pop music principles with a chorus that springs forth like a mousetrap and clever use of lyrics that are both repetitive and, in some cases, nonsensical. "Mu-mu-mu-mah" indeed.

3. 'Bad Romance' (2009)

The moment when Gaga went global. It also represented the creative peak of her collaboration with Moroccan-Swedish producer RedOne (real name Nadir Khayat). A key reason for Bad Romance’s success is the drama. RedOne created a tornado of synths and stomping beats and Gaga gave her most intense vocal performance on record. This track, which details a shoddy relationship, would have been ridiculous if it wasn't for Gaga's intent to simply slay the song and, in turn, the charts.

4. 'Telephone' (2010)

An epic musical collaboration of Marvel proportions. The two pop titans Beyonce and Gaga met up, Bonny and Clyde style, for this jerky electro romp. Accompanied by a risque video, the track and Beyonce's rare guest appearance marked Gaga's coronation as the new pop queen. It also marked the end of a remarkable winning streak, both commercially and critically.

5. 'Applause' (2013)

The secret to Gaga's biggest hits was in how effortless it often all sounded. This is why Applause, the lead single from Gaga's disappointing third album, Art Pop, was her first major misfire. The infectious glee key to her sound was missing in this turgid electro number. The faithful were not impressed and the single and album sunk without a trace.

6. 'Anything Goes' (2014)

Stung by the weak response to Art Pop, Gaga did a complete left-turn with Cheek to Cheek, a duet album with legendary crooner Tony Bennett. It's not as crazy as it sounds. Gaga’s vocals always paid homage to cabaret and theatre, and her take on this Cole Porter classic is lovely.

7. 'Million Reasons' (2016)

For her introspective album Joanne, Gaga replaced the disco ball with a cowboy hat. The aim of the project was to jettison the creative excesses of the past for something immediate and streamlined. Million Reasons is a yearning ballad with Gaga's voice raw and direct. After months of relative quiet, the song took off on the charts after her blazing rendition at the 2017 Super Bowl.

8. 'Joanne' (2016)

One of her most affecting songs. The title track of her fifth album, Joanne is a stirring piano ballad dedicated to Gaga’s late aunt. When her voice cracks in the chorus, and asks “Girl, where do you think you're going?,” the track becomes as much a eulogy as a query to a star that creatively lost her way.

9. 'Shallow' (2018)

Gaga always had a gift for blending drama with hooks. Those qualities nabbed her an Academy Award for Best Original Song from the hit remake of A Star is Born. That moment, when Gaga's voice switches gears and delivers that walloping chorus not only guaranteed that Oscar but the song's place as a karaoke favourite.

10. 'Stupid Love' (2020)

And we are back at the beginning. More than a decade after abandoning her pure-pop approach, Gaga rewarded fans with an ebullient single recalling those carefree sounds we digged all those years ago. Stupid Love is fun, catchy and, well, stupid. Welcome home Gaga.

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Read more:

Prince to Springsteen: six of the greatest backing bands behind the stars

Why K-pop needs to stop appropriating black culture and start collaborating more

The 11 best Arab independent musicians you should be listening to right now

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Updated: June 11, 2020 05:39 PM

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