Lady Gaga’s new song “Perfect Illusion” is available worldwide today, and I see so many fans hating on her because it’s not what they expected. The problem isn’t with the song; the problem is you’re missing the point.
The biggest complaint I’ve seen is that “Perfect Illusion” doesn’t fit with any of her previous albums. “Perfect Illusion” marks a moment for her where she decided enough with the try-hard lyrics and expectations. I am going to write a song about how I feel and just tell you about it with my voice.
Ever since Born This Way, her creativity has felt limited by her fans’ and label’s expectations. She has tried to grow and develop and be more than the gay-loving pop girl, and we might have seen that on ARTPOP had she been given more creative control. Instead, she was put in a box and did her best to make music she felt passionate about while also keeping it relevant to what the world expects from her.
Going in a new direction was the only option for Lady Gaga this time, probably to her relief. She is being her most musical self and forgetting the art. After all, she is a musician and was one even before the theatrics and disco sticks and meat dresses. Keeping up the shtick didn’t work with ARTPOP and won’t work now.
Let me break it down for you.
“Applause” was not something that everyone could bounce in their mind and say “I’ve been there.” The metaphors were not easy to digest, either. My mother thought Gaga was talking about raccoons when she said “Koons is me.”
“Do What U Want” missed the mark because R. Kelly is a sexual offender and people thought “Is she really singing a song about letting a guy do anything he wants with her body, with a sex offender?” (Bad idea). And G.U.Y.? No one cared at that point because the first two singles were so meh. If she came back with a song similar to any of these, she’d basically be guaranteed failure.
Then there are fans who claim the song is too repetitive to be successful. Let me remind you of another song that was released this year that we can all agree is too repetitive: Work work work work work work work work work……. That song is a Billboard hit.
To the people saying “I didn’t sign up for this” or “I’m turning in my Stan card,” the rest of this fanbase didn’t sign up for your rules and regulations. You’re essentially saying that Gaga is condemned to your particular tastes. That’s not a healthy way to treat a musician or artist. If you want sugary pop, I have great news for you! The Fame, The Fame Monster, Born This Way, and ARTPOP still exist. PI’s existence and creation did not banish your ability to recall those tracks or listen to them. Have at it.
And in case you’ve forgotten already, Britney Spears just released a great new pop album called “Glory.” It’s so sugary you’ll become diabetic.
“Perfect Illusion” is the real deal. It has it all. Whether or not you like it will not have an affect on its success. She doesn’t simply speak the lyrics like she has in the past and like other pop stars do today; she sings all of them. That makes this a standout song on radio.
The topic will also keep the general public interested. It’s something that anyone who has experienced a breakup can relate to, and the production is nearly flawless.
Chemically and lyrically and cohesively, this is her best work to date. Come for me for saying that if you want, but if you want to release a successful song in 2016, you have to write about something that people live through.
Gaga does not owe anyone a particular style. She is an artist. Saying otherwise is like dragging a new iPhone model because you miss the previous model’s size, layout, and the way it felt in your hand. No one is sticking a gun to your head and saying “YOU HAVE TO BUY THE NEW iPHONE AND LIKE IT,” but the market called for them to make a bigger screen so they made a bigger screen.
Think of Gaga’s artistic vision as the market and Perfect Illusion as the newest model. Keep your 5S. Keep your 2008 sound. Keep your signed hard copy of the terms and conditions you set forth in your mind for what Gaga must do to keep you happy. Keep that and move along.
When this song slays for the next six months and you want to hop back on the train to Gaga town, go right ahead. She won’t mind. You’re the one with expectations of her, not the other way around.
Now excuse me. I’m going to abuse the repeat button on Perfect Illusion again.