His breath so hard: The best of Lady Gaga

Remember those turn of the decade articles about Lady Gaga as an artist of singular recombinant power? She was supposed to be that generation’s Madonna. I didn’t hear it — not in her uneven albums or increasingly blah singles, which sported hooks and a sense of themselves as events without establishing themselves as usurpers. Nevertheless, she owned 2009-2011, and I had to hear past the well-intentioned but leaden “Born This Way” to accept her relative pop smarts. Better as a would-be diva claiming dance floor anonymity than playing at polymorphous iconicity, Gaga has proven unable to score hits in the zipped-up electronic pop marketplace she helped create. It’s not that she isn’t as good as Madonna was in 1989; it’s that she’s not as good as Britney Spears was in 2011 or 2016. Part of my aversion lies in my response to her voice: stentorian, therefore ideal for projection in arenas, inflexible with ballads or more sophisticated dance fare, like blinking with cucumber slices covering your eyes. Nevertheless, the moment was hers.

1. Dance in the Dark
2. Alejandro
3. Just Dance
4. Monster
5. Hair
6. Marry the Night
7. You and I
8. Speechless
9. Bad Romance
10. Scheiße
11. A-Yo
12. G.U.Y.
13. Pokerface
14. Do What U Want
15. Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
16. Aura
17. Joanne
18. Applause
19. John Wayne
20. Dancin’ in Circles
21. Government Hooker

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