‘Dawn of Chromatica’ is a Welcome Bout of Danceable Chaos

Regrettably, the release of Lady Gaga’s Chromatica album didn’t accomplish all that it was meant to. Its pandemic release kept listeners from experiencing it the way it should be — on the dance floor.

However, Dawn Of Chromatica has arrived right when fans are returning, although perhaps somewhat prematurely, to the club. Featuring remixes that turn the original work’s vibe up to ten (and then some), the album seeks to make more sense of the world Gaga created, through the sponsorship of some of hyperpop’s most powerful players.

Dawn Of Chromatica contains a multitude of artists Lady Gaga has never collaborated with before, but have now earned her mark of approval for pop stardom. Flourishing UK pop sensation Bree Runway gets a co-sign on the remix for “Babylon” featuring Jimmy Edgar, breathing life into a previously corny original track. Newcomer Ashnikko puts her stamp on “Plastic Doll,” and Rina Sawayama teams up with Clarence Clarity to give “Free Woman” some of the nu-metal edge she’s become known for.

A.G. Cook and Charli XCX perform at their absolute musical peak on the remix to “911,” which turns from a clubby romp into a glitchy and gorgeous electronic ballad. Charli’s breathless voice drapes itself over Cook’s relentless chiming production, as she cries out longingly: “When I cry like I’m a waterfall / And pour it out like alcohol / Would you raise your hands and catch it all?”. Their polished collaborative process is perfect for the project’s remix format, and turns “911” into the strongest track of the album.

Two more of the album’s strongest tracks come from Doss and Arca, artists that have shaped the underground world of pop considerably. It feels so exciting to hear them team up with Gaga for the first time, and the results are astounding. Doss’ “Enigma” remix is incredibly danceable, and Arca’s version of “Rain on Me (with Ariana Grande)” is a blissful pop triumph.

Not every collaboration works so well, however. Shygirl doesn’t quite bring the heat that she’s known for on the remix of “Sour Candy (with BLACKPINK)” and ends up feeling like somewhat of an afterthought on a track too similar to its original form. Also, something about the remix of “Fun Tonight” with Pablo Vittar is so incredibly cheesy that it threatens to transport the listener to a sweaty indoor water park, circa 1998. Music that makes you laugh is as fun and valid as anything, but on Dawn Of Chromatica, “Fun Tonight” sticks out like a sore thumb amongst more sophisticated dance tracks.

Overall, the remix album achieves a success that the original Chromatica album misses narrowly. Besides being such a formidable project, Dawn Of Chromatica successfully cement’s the new guard of pop stars and producers, each as unique and forward-thinking as Gaga has been throughout her career. Ever the supporter of the underdog, a Gaga co-sign is as high an honor as any for the artists featured on the project.

The only person so obviously missing from the album’s lineup (besides perhaps Grimes, who apparently missed the project’s deadline) is SOPHIE. Reports that Gaga and SOPHIE had collaborated in some form began as early as 2018, and producer Bloodpop confirmed that SOPHIE had a hand in some early sessions of Chromatica, although the tracks produced with SOPHIE did not make the final version of the album.

Releasing an artist’s work posthumously is a somewhat hairy process, so it makes sense that SOPHIE’s touches would not be felt on Dawn Of Chromatica. Still, this album yearns for the artist’s spirit, and SOPHIE’s influence can be heard in nearly all the tracks. To think of the way SOPHIE shaped the reference points for Chromatica, and then the artist’s untimely death before its release, brings about a dull ache, even when listening to the most joyous dance tracks.

Still, Dawn Of Chromatica is an excellent album, flaws and all. Gaga has a winner on her hands, supported by so many talented musicians on every track. And now, finally, we can dance, too.

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