Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!
Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!
Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.
Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.
Today’s roundtable topic sees us review…
Lady Gaga’s ‘Perfect Illusion’
Welcome back Lady Gaga!
Despite being an ardent fan of ‘ARTPOP,’ time and hindsight make clear the fact that its themes and lyrics were at best abstract. But for most unrelatable. After all, how many can identify with “fame IVs” and venturing to ‘Venus’?
With ‘Illusion,’ Mother Monster serves up the sonically familiar with subject matter that is magnetic to all.
It also sounds larger than life, which is everything a Gaga single should be. Especially at a time when the politics of the Pop world has seen her play down her trademark theatrics.
There are a few nagging niggles, namely the hilarious annunciation of “larhve” and “illoosheun,” as well as the short runtime. The latter of which sees the song end just at the entry point of blazing bliss.
Still, there’s beauty in imperfection. And there’s no illusion to me that this is Gaga in fervently fine form.
At a time when her contemporaries are embracing the lo-fi, it’s warming to see Gaga turn up the volume and rock out.
Upon listening to ‘Perfect’ I wasn’t sure about it…at all.
However, after giving it subsequent spins I found myself enjoying it thoroughly. Why? I’ve realised that it would be wrong to expect Gaga to deliver the kind of material she rose to fame championing eight years ago.
There’s been no formal announcement (nor would there be), but Gaga has made a transition into an Adult Contemporary of artist and ‘Illusion’ sees her showcase that creative shift with a sound that’s grown on me.
Armed with a relatable theme, the song seems to allude to the demise of her relationship with Taylor Kinney.
It noticeably steers clear of the R&B-kissed vocals she offered on ‘The Fame‘ and ‘The Fame Monster‘ and instead gives a wink at ‘Born This Way’ with its dramatic 80s inspired Pop Rock sound.
Put simply, ‘Illusion’ is raw, powerful, deeply moving and (unlike some of her past releases) human.
I look forward to hearing the rest of the album.
Admittedly, I – like so many – was hoping the songstress would use the launch of her 5th album/era as a true “return to form” (i.e. channeling ‘The Fame’ and furnishing some seriously radio friendly Pop akin to the ‘Paparazzi’s and ‘Poker Face’s of yesteryear).
Weary of the socially conscious, unrelatably artistic offerings of the ‘Born This Way’ and ‘ARTPOP’ eras, I needed her to use the time she took off to reevaluate the desires of her fans (and the music buying public in general) and create something that could balance her artistic desires with – dare I say it – Pop fluff (see: ‘G.U.Y.’ as an example of this idea).
Conceptually, ‘Perfect Illusion’ is just that on the surface – it’s a balance between who Gaga wants to be and who, from a business perspective, she needs to be (minus the almost parodic and/or exaggerated pronunciation of certain words at various points in the song). However, because it lacks the potency and infectiousness of her previous offerings on the instrumental-front, some will automatically pan it.
Personally, I love the song as it is. Awesomely 80s in composition and the girl is flatfoot singing her face off. But, for what the ‘Edge of Glory’ singer needs to regain any semblance of her former glory, I (sadly) do not believe ‘Perfect’ was the perfect choice. Good song, yes. Single-worthy? Not so much.
Because this song is a grower and polarizer, a well-thought out video will be its ultimate saving grace.
Gaga is back – and thankfully with a single that sounds very her.
After the underrated ‘ARTPOP’ and the Grammy winning jazz effort ‘Cheek To Cheek,’ Ms. Germanota proves to the world that she still has what it takes to rule Pop.
For me, ‘Illusion’ is the best single she could have released to launch a new project, as it’s essentially what she’s been servicing the masses for years but with a twist. That twist being SIMPLICITY.
Clocking right under 3 minutes, the track manages to fit everything a good Pop song needs and leaves you wanting more to the point you MUST press replay.
Also, its “uncomplicated-ness” lyrically and structurally makes it a welcome departure from the sometimes convoluted approach of previous releases.
Now all we need is a killer video and Mother Monster might reclaim her throne as Pop music’s leading lady.
Welcome back, Lady Gaga!
Do you agree with our points? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and Lady Gaga’s ‘Perfect Illusion’!