Lady Gaga’s Chromatica,
▌Lana Del Rey
‘Yayo’ is the seventh track off of Del Rey’s third studio release, Paradise. Upon its initial release, the song was critically dismissed for feeling contrived. Yet, in my opinion, these critics failed to see the point. Del Rey’s floating jazz vocals and the lo-fi recording perfectly illustrate the image she is attempting to create.
Lyrically, ‘Yayo’ embraces submissive femininity through an ominous lens, which allows her to simultaneously transgress and subvert the persona she is representing. It is equally sexy and unsettling. It has a quiet power that brings the listener clearly into the world of a 1920’s submissive femme fatale character in a way that I have simply never heard.
As Beach Bunny’s most popular song, it’s not surprising that it ended up on this list. ‘Prom Queen’ is a first-person narrative that reflects on the experiences that most girls have, growing up in the society where stereotypical ideals of beauty and femininity rule developing self-esteem.
While the song is self-reflective, it also outwardly and brutally rejects these ideas with a distinct sarcasm and wit in the vocal delivery of the lyrics, which are perfectly placed atop a surf meets grunge instrumental. ‘Prom Queen’ has got an attitude that feels empowering, sassy, and dismissive, and to top it all off, it has just the right amount of teen angst to make us feel young again.
‘Body’ is, perhaps, quite the controversial choice of song for this particular list, but Jacklin is a powerful female vocalist, who consistently writes heart-wrenching songs about the female experience. In this song, Jacklin explores a past relationship and how the dynamic of the relationship affected her relationship with her body. I can feel her pain through the stripped-down instrumental and haunting vocal performance. But there is a strength represented that comes in her voice as well as in the mixing of the song which pushes the level of the vocal high in the mix; a powerful choice for such a vulnerable song.
Tanners wrote ‘Venus’ about an experience she had in Southeast Asia, where she was able to look up at the stars and see the glow of the planet. Upon returning to the US, she was no longer able to see it but carried the memory. This song is so much more than that, however.
The specificity of the theme is almost subjugated by her identity as a queer woman and the romantic notion of lost love. The idea of Venus, whether meaning the goddess or the planet, is a powerful symbol of the divine feminine. The song has multiple meanings in its lyricism, cradled in airy synth sounds and a funky bassline that begs you to dance in the nostalgia.
Upon first listening to Chromatica, ‘Plastic Doll’ was probably one of my least favorite tracks, but, after spending more time with it, I learned to love it for so many reasons.
‘Plastic Doll’ shows Gaga and all of her sides. It is a classic Gaga vocal performance that brings us back to The Fame-era camp aesthetic that made us love her in the first place.
Lyrically, in the verses of the song, Gaga plays into the stereotypes of superficial femininity and, in the chorus, she subverts these ideas and claims her rightful place of dominance and autonomy. ‘Plastic Doll’ is an anthem for any woman who has ever felt belittled or disrespected in a relationship. We can’t deny the way Gaga is merging her recent vocal style with the attitude and creativity that brought her to stardom all the way back in 2008.