It's weird that we're meant to accept that Ally Maine is a fresh-on-the-scene popstar who literally sweeps the Grammys with her first album after being given an orange wig even Ava Max would scoff at and churning out nipple-arousing, but hardly Grammy-baiting, electropop bangers like Hair Body Face. But what a banger it is the stripped back verses exploding into that big 80s synthpop power chorus deliver a JOLT of euphoria and a frisson of a thrill that hasn't dulled with time. As with the entirety of the soundtrack though, from the big emotional ballads to the intentionally-throwaway "artist turned manufactured poptart" numbers like this, it's Gaga's tremendous vocal which really anchors Hair Body Face, turning this track 8-on-the-Ally-Maine-album into something surprisingly watertight and worthy of Gaga's own name.
29 · So Happy I Could Die · from "The Fame Monster"
I remember being into this song in quite a big way during the early days of my Gaga obsession. Pre-Born This Way, it felt like a cool change of pace from the more frantic singles of The Fame Monster (in retrospect, it has more in common with Alejandro). With what came next being such a level-up, I more or less stopped using the Monster EP and I didn't play this song for a very long time, but lately I have a renewed appreciation for it. I can't claim to understand what monster (titular, proverbial or otherwise) would drink red wine in a club, and the production (although twinkly enough) is nothing special - in fact it's precisely what you'd expect from a union of Space Cowboy and RedOne - but nonetheless So Happy has its own charm, benefits from the curious dichotomy of its lyricism and is the best non-single from its parent "album".
It's weird - Paparazzi was never my favourite single from The Fame at the time. It's evidently a really strong song, but somehow it felt a touch overshadowed by the previous two. I don't know if it's overplay or what, but today I'd much sooner come back to it than Poker Face or Just Dance, both of which I can hardly stand to hear ever again. I think the biggest thing this one has going for it is that vocally, she sounds really good - way less processed than on those 2 songs. It's a really sweet, pure vocal. I don't think Paparazzi is god-tier Gaga, but with the exception of one more track from The Fame (to be revealed soon, unless I give this whole thing up tomorrow ) it has endured the test of time the best.
Paparazzi is just godly. It's a sonic aesthetic that I wish she would re-explore.
And it's the TF single with the best video and best live performances. The excitement of a pop icon being born live on stage here is palpable. The Eternal Mother was truly hovering in the multiverse that evening.
Gaga's contributions to the soundtrack for A Star Is Born can roughly be divided into songs explicitly designed to EXTRACT tears DIRECTLY from the duct, and frivolous synth-pop bangers meant to illustrate that Ally Maine was losing grip on her artistry in the evil music industry. Look What I Found is a song that falls into neither category - instead it's a melodic, blues-y, jaunty and slightly staccato number that is also clearly a pop song, and really quite an enjoyable one. The moment it all comes together for me is the middle 8, and that build back into the final chorus.
When I met you I was blown to pieces
Heart all over the floor...
Ever since you put me back together
I can't believe, can't believe it (UNH!)
Look what I found! (WOO!)
Somebody who loves me! (COME ON!)
There's something absolutely delightful about the line "look what I found, somebody who loves me" - as though she never could've imagined it in her wildest dreams. Strangely enough that's probably more true of Gaga than it is of Ally, and Look What I Found really feels in every way, from the "live" instrumentation to the Mariah-inflected vocal runs, like it could be the blueprint for a future Gaga record during a more exciting "real music" phase than whatever Joanne ended up being. All things considered, a heavily underrated song and a bit of a gem (sultry? you be the judge!).
26 · Sexxx Dreams · from "Artpop"
We're already at the point where every song feels like a level-up from the last. Here we go with our first entry from Artpop, the possibly-misunderstood-or-possibly-fairly-maligned-but-definitely-highly-bloated-and-maximalist subject of a very entertaining recent sync listen here on Moopy. Sexxx Dreams is quite an intricately constructed song built around a call-and-response, where she sings one line to her partner and the following to the subject of her dreams - you can hear the lady herself explain it here at 3:15. I remember feeling at first like the chorus in particular was a touch MESSY, with the "YOU. WERE. IN. THEM." chant disrupting the flow of the main hook, but I've come to think it actually makes sense - the whole song is about the torment between loving someone but being unfaithful, during sleep, and never being able to fully enjoy either affair without feeling like something is just a bit wrong. The construction of the song, that feeling that something is a bit "off" and the back-and-forth, really backs up the theme (FROM BEHIND).
Of course, the generous climax to the whole thing comes with Gaga's sloppy bottom confession moment in the middle 8, before that gloriously 80s power chorus comes crashing back in like a top who you thought was done, but who has a few more thrusts in him (and indeed, in you) yet.
5 songs from Stefani's latest effort, Chromatica, declared "fun for Europe" by a vaguely scornful New York Times and a "return to form" by basic gays including @Pipo, made this countdown - it's her third-best represented album. First to fall is FUTURE SINGLE 911, which I have bundled here with the widely celebrated modern orchestral classic Chromatica II interlude, for the obvious reason that the transition from dramatic strings to homosexual electropop strut will soon be considered responsible for turning a whole new generation of children gay. That's power! There's a certain energy to 911, simultaneously relentless and a gentle 7.3 on the uptempo foot stompery scale, which allows it to weave its charm in a chilled out fashion. The resuting stannage is sub-conscious before it becomes conscious. A reverse Artpopian expedition. Perhaps my favourite detail of the song, transition aside, is the "a-woo-hoo!" backing vocals hidden in the mix at the end of each line in the final chorus. For a song about teetering on the very edge of a nervous breakdown and lunging for the medicine cabinet, the whole thing feels charmingly optimistic.
24 · Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) · from "The Fame"
I love that it takes approximately three seconds of Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) to figure out exactly what kind of song it is. A straightforward bubblegum track with a clear Ace of Base influence, Eh Eh is often forgotten alongside its big sister singles from The Fame, but the truth is that this featherweight bop so perfectly encapsulates summer, innocence, the frivolousness of young romance and the art of less is more that it is in fact the best song on The Fame - or at least, the Jark jury-certified favourite. For proof of its brilliance, see the fact that it charted at #2 in Sweden - they may be painful social introverts but they know pop.
Agreed about "Sexxx Dreams" being a bit clunky, which is probably why it's a 9/10 for me despite being a sultry gem.
"Paparazzi" has probably held up the best for me of her debut album singles. That video and MTV VMA live perf were really the moments she elevated pop music. Aside from Blackout we were in a really dark place from about 2006-2008. I love "Eh Eh" too - probably was a smart move to keep it a limited single release as each single/video was becoming an event for her at that point. It's still a cute bop, though.
Love "911" of course, probably too early for me to rank it alongside the classics though.
I have no interest in anything A Star Is Born related so let's keep those to a minimum, please.