Lady Gaga revisits her last full-length album with a remix project that she calls the Dawn Of CHROMATICA and invites up-and-coming artists, DJs and remix producers to give a new polish to what should have been the dance album of 2020.
Among the many things that made the last year one of the most tragic in living history, is how isolation and quarantine during the global pandemic put a pause on all manner of entertainment and shut the door on many forms of art across all mediums. Among some of the greater casualties to fall due to social distancing was the dance party and music venues were completely banned from allowing any form of gathering, but that did not prevent musical artists from releasing dance music or fully embarking on pushing the dance genre in a new innovative fashion.
Among one of those artists was none other than Lady Gaga. The award-winning chanteuse was on the percipience of releasing her 2020 effort Chromatica which was promised a return to form for the musician who had reinvigorated dance-pop and had decidedly taken a detour to demonstrate her versatility as a songwriter on more acoustic productions like 2016’s introspective Joanne and the deeply emotive music for the remake of A Star Is Born. With Chromatica Mother Monster was determined to prove she hadn’t lost her edge and was carving up a set of beat-heavy, synth feast as COVID set in.
Without a doubt, the forced isolation and desire to limit one’s pod for fear of contracting the debilitating disease took the air not only out of everyone’s lungs but without a cure in sight at the onsite, it kept everyone from feeling in the mood to cut loose and get their freak on. For Lady Gaga, it was a deeply healing process to collaborate with BloodPop® (who also worked on Joanne) on this setlist which would be profoundly dance-dedicated and she selfishly admitted, she was keeping “this dance floor, it’s mine, and I earned it.” Chromatica matches that expectation and proved a melodic tonic full of elation.
With the eager anticipation of any new music, “Stupid Love” came out the gate all gangbuster and was pure-Gaga indeed, but it was the album’s second single that would turn pop music on its ear. Before the pandemic had become a serious health issue, Lady Gaga had invited Ariana Grande into the studio to work in tandem on the album’s crowning jewel, the duet “Rain On Me” which features the most euphoric rhythms and percussive beats with a tinge of electronic, though its the vocal arrangements of these two powerhouse divas that really puts the song into a class of its own.
Chromatica proved interesting and the artist didn’t sit the time out producing visually arresting videos and ultimately releasing 4 singles, but without a tour to support the album, it largely went unnoticed and with nightlife brought to a crawl, the accompanying remixes didn’t have a dance floor to play on — Gaga’s audience was left to ponder what would come next. The artist didn’t sit on her laurels and apparently actively committed to her art. As the light began to appear at the end of the tunnel, Lady Gaga reconnected with the iconic Tony Bennett and the pair recorded their second album of jazz standards.
…and Chromatica was also about to experience a metamorphosis.
Life was slowly returning to some sense of normal in 2021, and although the club scene hadn’t returned to stride, vaccines were showing promise that the horror of COVID might soon be contained. Tony Bennett announced his well-deserved retirement after performing a series of sold-out shows alongside Lady Gaga at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, and Gaga reclaimed her Las Vegas residency for a short series to run in support of their album Love For Sale (which will be available wide on October 1). Determined to keep her dance-relevancy on high, Gaga promised to dust off of Chromatica.
The result: Dawn Of CHROMATICA The Remix Album which revisits the setlist and enlists a cadre of talent to give their new spin and polish on Chromatica. Promoted as a “reinvention” of her sixth consecutive #1 studio album, the remix package was curated and produced by Lady Gaga and BloodPop® (released via Interscope Records) and astonishingly isn’t as vibrant or elegant as its predecessor but is a promising amalgamation of the developing new wave of dance producers and artists on the scene.
Assembling a mix of still emerging producers and collaborations that open the scope of the original songs, Dawn Of Chromatica includes reworks of “Free Woman” by Rina Sawayama & Clarence Clarity that give the track rock credibility it didn’t have before. “Rain On Me” with Ariana Grande is also featured in a remix by Arca that leaves a little to be desired; a lot of the track’s original depth is stripped back for a less profound impact. “Fun Tonight” is given a whole new vibrance by Pablo Vittar which has arranged the track to perfectly suit tropical calypso escapism.
Perhaps the most interesting remix in the package is “Sour Candy”. The collaboration with K-Pop sensation BLACKPINK is expanded upon to include Shygirl & Mura Masa giving the darkly trance-intoxicating arrangement an after-hours deep base feel, without really extrapolating much of the original. The Doss Remix of “Enigma” and Dorian Electra on “Replay” really help to elevate these tracks to the dance floor, and the two remixes of “Babylon” are easily among the setlist’s best. What’s missing from this album is the innovation that was apparent and all over Chromatica.
It must not have been an easy task for Gaga and BloodPop® to whittle their choices down to these 14 tracks, but rather than seamlessly tie these tracks into a non-stop party album, or break it up with interludes which were effectively used on Chromatica the Dawn Of Chromatica moves from one track to another and is sometimes jarring or in some instances, the remixes are little more than transitions themselves. The album opens with a reworking of “Alice” by LSDXOXO but rather than ease the listener in like the original, it’s a cacophony of beats and bumps that would have been a more likely conclusion.
You can expect that the most loyal among her fanbase will be thrilled by this (re)examination of Chromatica but for the real dance floor experience, the original is still far more motivating and inspiring. Dawn Of Chromatica is not easy to digest as an homage to that album’s more spritely evocative rhythms but at least it’s a new color on the spectrum of an interesting career and creative vision.
DAWN OF CHROMATICA The Remix Album | by Lady Gaga | is available to download on iTunes and additional digital music store outlets. Download from iTunes here.