We haven’t heard much from Lady Gaga in awhile haven’t we? She had a crazy string of hits for a period of a couple of years in the early 2010s, but then she sort of went dark. She unveiled Artpop in 2013, a sort of underwhelming record with a couple of singles that weren’t really anywhere near as successful as those on here first two albums. She also released an unexpected (and damn good, in my opinion) collaboration record with Tony Bennett in which the two sung a bunch of jazz standards. But that was in 2014. It’s been two years since then though, and still not much. But then here’s this new track, co-written and produced with Mark Ronson and Kevin Parker, mastermind behind Tame Impala. I can definitely hear the two’s influence on the track, for better and for worse. Don’t get me wrong, I like this track quite a bit, but it doesn’t really hit as hard as I think it could’ve. There’s a great chorus, a sweet guitar line, and a pretty cool retro sensibility (although that in and of itself is sort starting to be worn thin by the amount of modern hits that try to sound like the early eighties).
The overall sound, especially with a powerhouse producer like Ronson, just never really breaks out of this muddy synth swamp. There’s a severe lack of treble presence here, and the drums (done in the typically stiff style of Tame Impala) feel pitifully dialed back. This is probably the first time I’ve ever actually looked forward to the radio remixes that top 40 stations often use instead of the actual mix. If you want a clear example of why I find the track sort of whimpery, just listen to this back to back with one of her earlier hits (especially something like “Telephone” or “The Edge of Glory”, which in my opinion are two of the best produced pop songs of all time) and listen to how much less energetic this new track seems in comparison. And before I get misinterpreted, I’m not trying to say that having a less energetic song is a bad thing, but I’m pretty sure that this was meant to be a banger, and unfortunately it doesn’t quite reach that level. Gaga herself delivers a great a great vocal performance, and it almost makes up for the cringe-worthy key change near the end (seriously, it’s that cheesy).
So to summarize: good song, not done up to its potential