Every Lady Gaga album, ranked
Lady Gaga. Wearer of meat. Oscar winner. Vegas show-stopper. Mother Monster. In 10 years of her career, Gaga’s achieved feats that no other pop star has. She smashed onto the pop music scene a decade ago, and she’s proven her worth time and time again. With five albums, one movie soundtrack, a collaborative album with Tony Bennett, sold out world tours, nine Grammys, an Oscar and a Golden Globe award, she’s put out some sultry, fist-pumping, inspiring records over the years. While we wait for the eventual release of Gaga’s mysterious upcoming album LG6, I thought I’d take a look back and rank her albums from best to worst. Also, I lied. This isn’t every Lady Gaga album. I left out ‘Cheek To Cheek’ and the soundtrack to ‘A Star Is Born’, mainly because they’re more side projects (an Oscar-winning, multi-week charting, record-breaking side project, I might add), but, for now, I’m just gonna focus on her actual, main-discography studio albums. 5. ‘The Fame’ Ah, Gaga’s infamous debut. ‘The Fame’ forever changed the face of pop music. Before ‘The Fame’, there was little use of electronic-infused beats used in pop music – at least not in the way that Gaga utilised the sound. Once Gaga grabbed that dirty, pop-fuelled production and ran with it, many have followed suit ever since. It wasn’t just that which changed the face of pop music forever, though. ‘The Fame’ didn’t just serve as an album filled with empty, electro-infused bops. The lyrics are more abstract than that of her contemporaries of her time, chucked full of metaphors and layers of hidden meaning, ones to discover when you listen to the album time and time again. With Gaga’s launch of ‘The Fame’, she changed the face of pop music forever, and forced her fellow pop divas to step up their game and follow suit. She pushed boundaries of pop, turning it from mindless, pretty basic stuff into genre-bending, rule-pushing drama, a theatrical debut that went beyond the music itself. And pop music never quite looked the same every again. Even 10 years later, ‘The Fame’ still holds up, sounding as sonically fresh as it did now as it did a decade ago. That’s the sign of true music, of music that’s built to last. Gaga made way more than a solid foundation for her career with her debut. She made a fucking castle. With the release of ‘Just Dance’, Gaga caught the public’s attention. She was bringing something new to the table; but was she just a one trick pony? The answer, of course, was no. ‘Poker Face’ cemented her as a hurricane in the world of popular culture; and from there on in she only went from strength to strength, creating an almost flawless debut album, cementing herself as one of the world’s greatest pop stars already. From the filthy ‘Beautiful, Dirty, Rich’ to the emotional, vocals-to-the-front ‘Brown Eyes’, Gaga has pretty much everything covered in this album. ‘The Fame’ is, interestingly, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Singing about how she yearns to be famous, tongue-in-cheek or not; her wishes certainly became a reality. “I used to walk down the street like I was a fucking star… I want people to walk around delusional about how great they can be – and then to fight so hard for it every day that the lie becomes the truth.” Gaga’s debut album was also surrounded by an onslaught of artistic performances surrounding the attraction. Gaga wasn’t just dishing up an album and bailing. Oh no. She was strutting the streets dressed in leather, doing interviews wearing Kermit the Frog dresses, performing at the VMAs with blood dripping down her chest. She came onto the scene with a bang. With a name like ‘Lady Gaga’, she was forcing us to pay attention. Making it one of the most iconic albums of our age. And the world certainly paid attention. It’s 10-times platinum (!) in the UK charts, spent 7 weeks at Number 1, and had a 72-week stint in the top 10. Crazy shit. That’s not to say that the album’s without fault, though. Despite its perfect introduction into the twisted mind of Gaga, there’s a few missteps along the way. The main one would be the lyric ‘love it when you call me legs / in the morning buy me eggs.’ Um, sure? Even 10 years ago, that’s just straight up lazy song writing. Still, at this point, it’s oddly charming. And ‘Boys Boys Boys’ is still a banger of a track, filled with fantastic imagery that more than makes up for this slight misstep. ‘Starstruck’, while I love it, sounds the most dated now. But, in a way, it makes it all the more endearing. It’s like looking back at the sonic-candy era of the 2000s. That said, the aforementioned track, ‘I Like It Rough’, ‘Eh, Eh’ and ‘Summerboy’, while all now are nostalgia-infused, classic ‘Fame’-Gaga tracks, are, essentially filler. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but when comparing them to some of the other filler on her later albums, there’s just no contest. With that said, I wouldn’t change a single thing about ‘The Fame’. Instead of introducing us to Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga introduced herself to the world, grabbing us by the ear and forcing us to pay attention. And I haven’t looked back since. (Note: Sorry, I realise that was a lot of info-dumping. But despite its #5 ranking, I needed to show my appreciation for how iconic ‘The Fame’ truly is, and how it defined Lady Gaga as the pop force we know her as today). 4. ‘Joanne’ Lady Gaga’s latest release, discounting the soundtrack to ‘A Star Is Born’. Ah, ‘Joanne’. Filled with a range of tracks, from the emotion title track to the fist-pumping, angst-infused, adrenaline-raising ‘Perfect Illusion’, there’s a little splash of everything in here. Sonically, though, it somehow manages to be one of her more cohesive albums. There’s just a ‘vibe’ that Gaga manges to capture here. The album itself is red sunsets, overflowing ashtrays and long, empty roads, all trapped in a bottle. It’s just a feeling that Gaga manages to capture and then regurgitate into a 14-track record. When it was realised, ‘Joanne’ was… divisive. Especially amongst the fanbase. Some Monsters cried that Gaga had ‘gone country’, while others claim it’s a personal effort. I’m firmly in the latter camp. At this point in her career, she had nothing left to lose. With ‘ARTPOP’s poor reception, Gaga could’ve gone in any direction. With album number five, however, she chose to scrap half the tracks she’d already created, and write something personal. Named after her deceased aunt, ‘Joanne’ tackles a variety of themes. She’s always been a family gal, forever giving shout-outs to her parents during her live performances. Dedicating ‘Joanne’ to her aunt was a sweet move; addressing the trauma her family was put through at the loss, the hole in the fabric of their unity. With that said, the theme does get a little bit… messy. ‘Dancin’ In Circles’, for example, is a little uncomfortable when you realise she’s singing about masturbation on an album that’s dedicated to a dead family member. It’s a great track, don’t get me wrong – it’s one of my faves! – but it kind of dilutes the theme a little. Then again, it’s Gaga, and she’s always enjoyed creating art that makes the average person uncomfortable, so maybe that’s her intent. ‘Million Reasons’ is one of the best tracks of Gaga’s entire career, the piano-based ballad capturing hearts all across the world when she performed at the Super Bowl in 2017. ‘A-YO’ is a cute summer bop, ‘John Wayne’ has a sick music video and beat… there’s just so much to enjoy here. With that said, ‘Joanne’ suffers the same problem as ‘The Fame’. While its highs are high, there’s a few filler tracks seeping in. ‘Come To Mama’ and ‘Hey Girl’, while enjoyable, are hardly in the same league at the album’s lead single, and it shows. It’s okay, not every track has to be gold – and most of Gaga’s tracks are – but it’s just a nitpicky reason as to why ‘Joanne’ ranks in fourth place. On the album art, Gaga’s literally facing another direction, representing her change in sound. In every other album cover, Gaga is facing forwards, staring into the camera (or, at least I assume, it’s hard to see with her iconic ‘Fame’ glasses). With ‘Joanne’, however, she’s facing the side, literally portraying that this album is going to be slightly off-key from her prior releases. And that’s rad! It’s brilliant when artists are comfortable enough to experiment with their sound; follow their creative muse and create the music and art that they wish to pursue. With a stripped-back, more country-infused sound, ‘Joanne’ is the most personal entry into Gaga’s plethora of sick records. This album is severely underrated in the Little Monster fanbase. Although it achieved a #4 ranking, for reasons above, ‘Joanne’ still has a special place in my heart. 3. ‘The Fame Monster’ It didn’t rank as high as you thought, right? I do love ‘The Fame Monster’, and it only ranks at #3 because I prefer her other two entries more. It’s not out of fault of ‘TFM’, but more a testament to my love of her other albums. With that out of the way, I adore ‘The Fame Monster’. The concept behind it, the tracks, the visuals – everything about this EP is deliciously dark, lathering layer upon layer of twisted pop music. The yin to ‘The Fame’s yang, ‘The Fame Monster’ is cohesive, has no filler, and features some of Lady Gaga’s most well-known tracks. Opening with perhaps her most iconic song ‘Bad Romance’, Gaga made sure we realised that this bitch wasn’t going anywhere. Each track on ‘The Fame Monster’ represents one of Gaga’s different fears. There’s the Fear of Sex Monster, the Fear of Love Monster, the Fear of Death Monster, and so on. It’s the dichotomy between this and her first record that makes ‘The Fame Monster’ such an interesting record. She’s capable of singing about more than wanting to be famous and parties and drugs and sex; she already opened herself up to show the raw, rah-rah bitch that was hiding beneath the disco sticks during her sophomore album, and that’s a rare thing to do. She shook off that infamous sophomore slump without even trying. While only featuring eight tracks, ‘The Fame Monster’ is a tightly woven experience, a journey into the darkness of Gaga’s mind, that would be tainted had it had any extra tracks thrown into the midst. ‘Dance in the Dark’ has always been a fan-favourite, its dark and sultry beat and high-pitched vocals resonating with Monsters around the globe. If only it got the proper single treatment it deserved. Sigh. “Marilyn, Judy, Sylvia… Tell ’em how you feel girls. Work your blond Benet Ramsey, we’ll haunt like Liberace. Find your freedom in the music, find your Jesus, find your Kubrick. You will never fall apart Diana, you’re still in our hearts. Never let you fall apart, together we’ll dance in the dark.” There’s also the usual Gaga ballad here, too. ‘Speechless’, penned for her father when he was going through heart surgery. Again, it shows another edge to Gaga that isn’t just a tits-on-fire, balls-to-the-wall kind of singer. Give her a piano, and she can still belt out a tune and put on one hell of a show. With ‘The Fame Monster’ also came on the most intricate and iconic tours the world’s ever seen: The Monster Ball. Watching the gig is like tumbling head-first down a rabbit hole into Lady Gaga Land. Filled with living dresses that flutter in the breeze, gigantic monsters that are killed with photographs, glitter pathways...
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