Lady Gaga’s last album, Joanne, felt like a forgery—a misguided bid to be taken seriously. This was curious coming from an artist who once refreshingly insisted that pop need not make any apologies. Joanne wasn’t the sound of a singer who’d lost herself, but of one who never knew who she was in the first place. Gaga’s new surprise single, which she premiered during her performance at Coachella last night, only further calcifies that impression. With “The Cure,” she abandons the middling singer-songwriter pap of recent single “Million Reasons” and abruptly shifts gears for a tropical house rhythm complete with a sped-up vocal sample reminiscent of Justin Bieber’s smash “Sorry.” The lyrics are composed of generic pop platitudes about unconditional devotion that aren’t worth citing here, rendered even more forgettable by a generic hook and a lifeless vocal turn by Gaga herself. If her intention was to make us realize just how much personality she imbued Joanne with, “The Cure” is a resounding success.
Joanne (#1–10 of 2)
Capitalizing on a wave of publicity in the aftermath of Sunday night’s Super Bowl halftime performance, Lady Gaga has released the music video for “John Wayne,” a standout track from last year’s largely forgettable Joanne. Gaga’s short film-style clips for “Bad Romance,” “Alejandro,” and “Born This Way” helped reignite the music video medium, turning each new release into a bona fide event, but her recent output—especially the lackluster videos for “Perfect Illusion” and “Million Reasons,” the first two singles from Joanne—have failed to garner much buzz. “John Wayne,” however, sees Gaga once again plying a maximalist aesthetic, and returning to the outlandish costumes and, possibly, a storyline that began almost eight years ago.