1. Just Dance (The Fame, 2008)
Written in 10 minutes, this track was the first we ever heard from Gaga. I remember so vividly hearing it on MTV upon it’s release and immediately being hooked (Yes, MTV. I know; the shame). The premise of the track was relatable: “I’m absolutely fucked off my face and have no idea what’s going on, but sod it, I’ll just keep dancing”. At the time there were much fewer pop princesses (no Ariana Grande or Katy Perry in sight) and this track’s synth-pop fibres made it stand out. It’s got that catchy, choppy, short sentenced structure that makes it both easy to sing along to, and an incredible club anthem. As a debut, it did the job. This track propelled to number 1 in 6 countries and charted high in many others. A lot of critics used the old “One Hit Wonder” to describe her at the time. I believe they’ve now realised that they should stick to criticism, and steer clear of clairvoyance.
Choice lyrics ‘I love this record baby, but I can’t see straight anymore’
2. Bad Romance (The Fame Monster, 2010)
One of the best pop songs ever written. This track turned humble Lady Gaga into empress Mother Monster. The fierce baseline, raw vocals, and “Rah Rah” hook showcased Gaga as not just a singer, but as an artist. Her 80s roots are exposed in the second verse, where she introduces a background synth beat between the baseline. The song in itself is an anthem of endurance. It was Gaga showing the world that it wasn’t just about the fancy and wacky clothes; it was about the music. It was art and pop (little forecast there). And it was her proclaiming that she wasn’t going to go away in a hurry. The music video was new and exciting and told a tale in a completely new way. It wasn’t a sepia toned love story, it was a leather clad bath house. It was pain, and it was bloody fantastic.
Choice lyrics ‘I want your horror, I want your design. ‘Cause you’re a criminal as long as your mine’
3. Marry The Night (Born This Way, 2011)
Church bells. Techno. Disco. Glamour. No, not the Vatican Christmas party, but Marry The Night. Written in honour of Gaga’s home city of New York, this track is like house music with lyrics. It has a consistent four-on-the-floor beat that even the most pompous of landed gentry couldn’t resist bobbing their heads to. This track sets the tone for the album; classic rock and pop in harmony. That being said, the drop at the chorus also qualifies the track as a dance single. This song has always been a favourite of Gaga’s and she even recorded an acoustic version for her Very Gaga Thanksgiving one off show.
Choice lyrics ‘Love is the new denim or black’
4. Aura (ARTPOP, 2013)
Opening with an acoustic guitar riff very alien to her usual pop beats, this track starts with a sinister tone. It doesn’t take long, however, for it to turn into something you could hear in an illegal rave. Originally titled Burqa, the track was criticised for sexualising the Arabic garment. The song is really about celebrity, though there are clear Arabic musical influences. Gaga’s vocal range is showcased in the chorus and verses, which is a bit odd for a dance track. It’s a transition away from cheesy pop, and with it having been produced by Israeli psytrance duo Infected Mushroom (which sounds like something a man would see his doctor for), it was bound to be.
Choice lyrics ‘I hear you screaming, is it because of pleasure or toil?’
5. Anything Goes (Cheek to Cheek, 2014)
When every Gaga fan heard this I think they had two thoughts: Who’s Tony Bennett, and has Gaga been hit on the head by a saxophone in a bingo hall? Well, if you actually look at her musical influences, it makes perfect sense. Gaga has always been a lover of Jazz, and a huge admirer of Bennett. This track, and album, also intrigued and interested an older generation that would have previously seen Gaga as a harlet in fishnets. Although the song is very traditional to the original, it does have new life breathed into it by Gaga’s fresher and younger vocals that contrast with Bennett’s more classic jazzy tone.
Choice lyrics ‘When most guys today that women prize today are just silly gigolos’
6. Diamond Heart (Joanne, 2016)
This song is Carrie Underwood meets modern rock. When news got out that Gaga had a country album in store for us, I don’t think this is what we expected. I for one pictured a mechanical bull covered in red leather and glitter. What we got was a grown up and new interpretation of Yee-Haw. This track in particular is very drum heavy, with country guitar layered in quite cleverly. The only thing that remains true to classic country is arguably the lyrics in the verses. It’s the sort of song that would confuse a father of 14 who wears a confederate flag t-shirt. Country, but very Gags.
Choice lyric ‘Girl’s playin’ bad ’cause it doesn’t pay to be good’