Oh, how we have missed you, Lady Gaga.
It has been three long years since Gaga’s last pop-music release. In 2013, she released “Applause” from Artpop. Despite the mass amount of hype leading up to both the album and the single, the music fell relatively flat with many critics and fans alike.
Since then, Gaga took a break from mainstream music to venture into different career paths. She released a jazz album with Tony Bennett, titled Cheek to Cheek. She also starred as the main character in the fifth season of American Horror Story, titled Hotel, which she won a Golden Globe award for. She then earned her first Oscar nomination for her song “Til It Happens to You” from the documentary The Hunting Ground.
The 30-year-old singer had been dropping hints that she would make her return to pop music sometime this year, but not much was known about the style of music she would venture into this time around. Thankfully, she is finally back and has a completely new sound.
Late Thursday night, Gaga released “Perfect Illusion,” which is the first single from her yet-to-be-titled fifth album. However, “Perfect Illusion” is different in more ways than one, and that is exactly what makes it so great.
Unlike many of her iconic singles, such as “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face,” the song does not come across as a smash right away. But, after a few listens (we recommend with good headphones), the song truly begins to shine.
The song can also be a bit off-putting upon the first listen due to Gaga’s vocals. In almost every pop song released today, the artist’s vocals are incredibly processed and auto tuned. “Perfect Illusion,” on the other hand, breaks that mold, because Gaga’s vocals are completely raw, which makes them come across as more powerful and real than any song on the radio today. Could the emotion in her vocals be coming from her recent split from fiancé Taylor Kinney?
The song’s genre is completely surprising as well. Gaga is known for her usual pop tracks, like “Born This Way” and “Paparazzi,” but “Perfect Illusion” is a rock-driven dance song. This mixing of genres is not surprising, however, when looking at who produced the track: Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker, BloodPop, who produced Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” and Mark Ronson, who is responsible for Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, Adele’s 19 and one of the biggest songs in the last few years, “Uptown Funk.”
All of the quirks and surprises in “Perfect Illusion” is exactly what will make it go down as one of Gaga’s most iconic singles, and hopefully, one of the biggest songs of the year. With “Perfect Illusion,” Gaga has, yet again, proven why she is one of the most captivating artists of our lifetime. Which other mainstream artist could take a three-year hiatus from pop music and return with a rock-inspired track? Gaga is not afraid to take risks, and “Perfect Illusion” seems to be the one that will pay off for quite a long time.