by Carla Bynum
The album Joanne was named after an aunt who died of lupus when she was 19. Fun fact, Joanne is also Gaga’s middle name. Joanne was instrumental in helping Gaga become the woman she is today, “She is the woman of my past who is becoming and helping me bring more of my honest woman self into the future.”
“A-YO” is the album’s third single and debuted on Beats 1 with Zane Lowe on October 18th. Lady Gaga has been through a lot in recent years and she just wants to have a good time. When asked about the meaning of the song by a fan, she stated that the song is saying “hey you, let’s celebrate. We’re leavin our haters in the dust.” This song is not only a reflection of how she wants to live her life but also her approach to this album.
The album’s title track “Joanne” has been described as the “true heart and soul of the record” by Gaga. The song is about her late aunt who passed away before Gaga got a chance to meet her. Gaga wants to continue her aunt’s legacy and that’s why Joanne has been an instrumental part of her record breaking career. The chorus asks the questions “Where are you going,” and could be in reference to a poem Joanne wrote where she states that she didn’t know where she was going. The song highlights how Joanne was taken away too soon and heaven could have waited for her.
Lady Gaga is tired of encountering the same type of city men and she craves a cowboy type like “John Wayne.”
The song “Dancin’ In Circles” has a reggae flavor to it and is a bold song about female masturbation. All her worries and concerns disappear when she’s spending alone time with herself.
“Perfect Illusion” is the album’s lead single and on the surface it may seem like it’s about a relationship but Gaga has stated that it isn’t. In fact, it is about social media and how people put on façade’s for their friends and followers and keep up the perfect illusion in their real lives.
The album’s second single “Million Reasons” was first premiered during a Facebook live performance on October 5th. The song has a country rock vibe and shows how Lady Gaga isn’t afraid to test boundaries in music. She has a million reasons to walk away from her relationship but she wants one good reason to stay. The song was co-penned with Hillary Lindsey (“Jesus Take the Wheel”).
Gaga asks for forgiveness on the track “Sinner’s Prayer.” She realizes that she isn’t perfect and she does sin but despite her flaws, she only wants one man in her life.
“Come to Mama” encourages listeners to stop throwing stones at one another because loving one another is the most important thing. We are all going through trying times but it’s important to uplift and show love for each other.
Florence Welch joins Gaga on the track “Hey Girl,” an empowering song for women about lifting each other up and having each other’s backs.
The song “Angel Down” was inspired by the unfortunate and heartbreaking murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Gaga sings about her feelings towards the world we live in and the tragedies we have seen on a consistent basis. During an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 she said,
“[There is an] epidemic of young African Americans being murdered in this country. 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…[I have] my ear to the ground of my fans, young African American women and boys who are terrified… they tell me they drive in their cars, and when they hear a siren there’s a paranoia that runs through their body, that they freeze up that they can’t think. This is a tremendous anxiety. This is something I care about. This is something that has to stop, something we all need to heal from.”
While “Angel Down” is the final song on the standard version of the album, the deluxe version features the songs “Grigio Girls,” “Just Another Day,” “Angel Down (Work Tape),” and “Million Reasons (Work Tape).”
“Grigio Girls” is dedicated to her friend and Haus of Gaga’s managing director Sonja Durham who is battling stage 4 cancer. The first verse details how the two met years ago while the rest of the song shows their friendship and how they call on each other in times of need. During their sessions of wine drinking and pouring out their feelings, they turn sad situations into celebrations.
Gaga has said that the song “Just Another Day” was inspired by her frequent walks in Central Park. She sings about doing everything she can to show her lover how much she loves him.
The remaining songs on the deluxe version of the album feature the original takes for the songs “Angel Down” and “Million Reasons.”
It has been a few years since Lady Gaga released a solo album. Since the release of Artpop in 2013, she has collaborated on an album with Tony Bennett and revved up her acting career. Even though she took some time away to focus on other ventures, she had more to say to her fans. Joanne is an extremely personal album that delves into Gaga’s true feelings. She has stated that every song on the album is autobiographical and is “implicitly related, every single song, to actual things happening in my life.” In my opinion, this album shows Gaga at her best and her personality truly shines through. It isn’t surprising that the album is already number one.
Recommended Tracks: “Joanne,” “Hey Girl,” “Dancin’ In Circles,” “John Wayne,”