Joanne Lady Gaga

Joanne album cover via

Drop a hat on her head, and call her Joanne. Lady Gaga introduces a new character to the lineup on her Americana-influenced fifth studio album.

Promising to deliver a deeply personal album is the kiss of death for pop stars. Pop icon Britney Spears vowed to provide fans a glimpse of her soul on her eighth studio album Britney Jean but instead seemed barely present in the midst of generic electronica (thank Godney for the creative comeback that is Glory). Bad Gal Rihanna delivered something innovative but with half the fun we’ve come to expect on ANTi.

Now, Lady Gaga is the latest pop starlet struggling to find any sort of authenticity on her most “personal” album to date, her just released Joanne

Gaga has been notably absent from the pop scene following the lukewarm reception of 2013’s ARTPOP; however, that’s hardly to say she’s disappeared.

She teamed up with Tony Bennett to showcase her vocals while belting out jazz standards on 2014’s chart topping Cheek to Cheek. Presenting a relaxed aesthetic, Lady Gaga proved to the general public that her voice could drive a successful album release without relying on headline-grabbing, outlandish performance art.


It was this Lady Gaga who appeared at the 2015 Oscars to perform a stunning tribute to The Sound of Music. Gaga continued to shock critics with her frank honesty on 2015’s “Till It Happens To You,” which served as a theme song for the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground.

Making her acting debut on American Horror Story: Hotel enabled the hitmaker to incorporate some of the more gruesome elements of her performance art while playing a murderous succubus. Netting critical acclaim for her portrayal, Lady Gaga signed for a second season of the show and announced her musical return with Joanne in a sort of one-two-punch.

Heralded as her return to the pop scene, fans and naysayers alike had high expectations of Joanne. Those expectations were fed by Lady Gaga’s team in the months leading up to the project’s release. Joanne was to see Gaga teaming up with RedOne, the producer and writer responsible for helping her helm some of her defining hits including “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.”

Mark Ronson of “Uptown Funk” infamy signed on to co-executive produce the effort alongside Gaga. Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine signed on to contribute her vocals to a track, and Beck (of Beyonce-Grammy-robbing fame) offered a writing credit as well. BloodPop (“Sorry,” Justin Bieber) joined the mix, co-producing alongside Gaga and Ronson on the entirety of the album’s standard edition.

It was assumed that Gaga would be returning to her cleverly written and expertly produced dance pop of previous records; however, those expectations were dashed with the release of the project’s lead single “Perfect Illusion.”


“It wasn’t looooove, it was a perfect illusion,” Gaga growled over rock guitars on the track. The track abandoned any expectations of a pop production in favor of the stomping bravado of stadium rock. Her raw vocals and frenzied runs give the sense that the track is more a clumsy demo that borrows elements of tracks that have worked before and tosses them over the rough production.

With the release of buzz single “Million Reasons” and the project’s alleged second single “A-YO” the lack of pop became more evident. Massive hooks have been abandoned in favor of some good ol’fashioned rock, blues and Americana on Joanne.

Gaga’s attempts at delivering Americana are somewhat effective; however, her efforts lack the authenticity that was promised by Mother Monster ahead of the project’s release. It seems as though Lady Gaga has donned the persona as Joanne as yet another stage name.

She’s set a pastel hat on her head and abandoned her city-girl, party-pop aesthetic in much the same way that she dragged on a cigarette and glued on mutton chops to assume the character of Jo Calderone during her Born This Way eraThe final result is just as jarring and about as believable…


The album opens with a flashback to Lady Gaga’s early Go-Go dancing days, referencing her hunger for fame on the rock-infused “Diamond Heart.” The track builds to a Gaga-esque chorus complete with confidently belted vocals. It’s hardly the first time that Gaga has referenced her need for fame (hello “Applause” and The Fame), but there is an element of rawness to her approach to the topic this time around. She’s starving for the applause and fabulously flawed, but regardless Gaga possesses a steadfast heart.

On few tracks is a country influence more evident than it is on the honky-tonk kiss off that is “A-YO.” Billed as a track for the haters, Gaga serves a confident performance on the track. Feeling slightly reminiscent of Jessica Simpson’s popped-up take on country anthem “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” Gaga’s voice is buoyant over the hook-ridden production. Though it improves with repeated listens, the track nonetheless feels like a try-hard attempt at gaining some crossover success.

That hunger for a successful crossover continues on tracks like “John Wayne” and “Come to Mama.” On the first Gaga expresses her desire for a romp in the sack with a cowboy while the latter sees Gaga channeling some of Meghan Trainor’s throwback vibes while petitioning for a little more love in the world. “John Wayne” at least injects some playful life into the production, making for one of the more interesting moments of the release.

The much-hyped Florence Welch collaboration on “Hey Girl” provides an updated take on “Bennie and the Jets.” The girl power anthem updates the classic with some playful synths, but although Gaga and Welch are preaching the benefits of females working together their voices seem entirely disconnected. It’s as though they recorded the track from different sides of the globe, providing minimal opportunities for harmonizing.


Sinner’s Prayer” and “Grigio Girls” are forgettable though listenable cuts from the track. The latter is more effective, as Gaga sings alongside a choir about an evening relaxing with her ladies and a glass (or bottle, no judgment) of wine.

That’s not to say that Joanne is without it’s successes…

Buzz single “Million Reasons,” the album’s title track and the socially conscious “Angel Down” prove that Lady Gaga remains one of the best balladeers in pop music. “Million Reasons” delivers an earnest ode to heartbreak, as the songstress struggles to find peace in a relationship. It is potentially one of the more successful attempts to implement a country-inspiration into the album, and it provides a notably softer more raw moment to the project.

The album’s title track provides a moment for soul searching over acoustic strings. Titled after her father’s sister while also referring to her own middle name (she is Stephanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta after all folks, not to be confused with Britney Jean Spears or, gods forbid, Madonna). “Girl, where do you think you’re going,” she fragilely sings on the chorus. It’s an ode to letting go and moving on, revealing a more raw side of Gaga’s musicality.

Lady Gaga

The Beck-assisted “Dancin’ in Circles” is a delectably unhinged treat and potentially one of the most “Lady Gaga” tracks on the project. Delivering an ode to female masturbation, Gaga’s lyricism is at it’s wittiest on the track. “Dancing in circles, feels good to be lonely,” Gaga playfully sings over the bouncy production. It’s a wild moment that provides some levity to the meaty subject matter of Joanne.

In all, Gaga promises authenticity but instead explores a new character on Joanne. The album proves to be an interesting if slightly jarring listen from the Mother Monster. One thing that is fairly consistent throughout is Lady Gaga’s voice, which remains excellent if somewhat jarring on some of the numbers. While it leaves you wanting a little more in spots, Joanne improves with additional listens.

Over the years Lady Gaga’s ego has proven to be her greatest foe, as she tends to over promise and under deliver on projects. Heralding Born this Way as the album of the millennium is just one example of Gaga’s pretentiousness negatively impacting her artistry.

Her complete confidence and utter commitment to her craft surely make her a godsend capable of delivering visionary and groundbreaking moments; however, it also proves to be her greatest weakness. This is increasingly evident with Joanne, especially as the artist hops on social media to respond to negative critics.

Her recent Beats 1 interview sees her continuing to battle comparisons with pop’s reigning queen Madonna, and her response reveals that she seems to consider herself and her work as more worthy than that of other pop stars. “She’s the biggest pop star of all time, but I play a lot of instruments,” she said. “I write all my own music. I spend hours, and hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer, I’m a writer. What I do is different… There’s spontaneity in my work.”


This misconception that pop music doesn’t require skills (especially when speaking of Madonna, who has always been remarkably involved in her craft) is yet more evidence of Gaga’s ego. Pop music has given Lady Gaga the platform that she currently holds; and without it, it’s possible that she would still be the go-go dancer starving for fame that she referenced in “Diamond Heart.”

More confusing is Lady Gaga’s misconception that pop music cannot be both serious and fun. Had Gaga wanted to make an album that felt authentic and resonated with her core group of fans, the wealthy New York City native easily could have descended into electro-kissed productions like she has in the past. “Dancing in the Dark” being the perfect example of a pop song that delivers depth.

Instead, we’re left with the celebrated pop star delivering her best attempts at Americana in an attempt to be taken more seriously. It’s not bad, it’s not great, and it’s surely not a glimpse into the heart and soul of Lady Gaga. With that in mind, we’ll settle for getting to know her latest alter ego.

What do you think about Joanne? Weigh in below!

Joanne was released on Oct. 21 (iTunes).

Tiffany Houghton

Rising pop hitmaker Tiffany Houghton delivers another solid pop anthem with new single “I’m Gonna Love You!”

Pop music has a new muse, and her name is Tiffany Houghton. The Los Angeles based singer songwriter emerged on the scene armed with infectious pop hooks and a determined and driven nature.

This summer Houghton became a fan-favorite on radio with the release of her bubbly “Catch Me If You Can.” The flirty bop saw the songstress challenging a potential lover to win her heart. “Catch me if you can / hold on for your life,” she playfully teased on the bubblegum hit.

Houghton was propelled to the upper reaches of the charts with her joyous release, and the fun continues on her latest pristine pop confection “I’m Gonna Love You.”

If I’m Gonna Love You” is another promising release from Houghton. Finding herself in the earliest phases of a relationship, Tiffany daydreams about the various paths that their romance can take. “If my heart breaks, I’m gonna break you / if it’s just a game, I’m gonna play you / if it’s all the same, I’m gonna take you / no matter it takes / if it’s just a touch, I’m gonna touch you / but baby if it’s love, I’m gonna love you” she boldly proclaims on the euphoric chorus. Her voice resonates with excitement for the new adventure; coupled with the bright production, and it’s clear that Tiffany Houghton has another solid release on her hands!

The accompanying music video sees Houghton delivering a fresh, Mod-inspired look while adventuring across town. She frolics across a beach, before she and her girls head to a local diner to entertain the patrons. Her high-octane antics perfectly match the youthful qualities of the track and introduce viewers to Houghton’s bright aesthetic.

Check out Tiffany Houghton’s “I’m Gonna Love You” visual below!

Tiffany Houghton just delivered another solid pop anthem, and we’re already wanting more! The rising talent has managed to capture the youthful joy of love, and she approaches her relationship with an open heart, unafraid of being hurt. It’s a powerful and joyful release that will undoubtedly be warm up the chillier fall days we’ve been having lately!

What do you think of Houghton’s latest? Let us know if you’ll be adding “I’m Gonna Love You” to your playlist in the comments below!

“I’m Gonna Love You” was released on Oct. 13 (iTunes, YouTube).

Tayler Buono


Tayler Buono relishes a spontaneous Los Angeles adventure in her dreamy “Something About You” music video…

There’s just something about rising electro-pop princess Tayler Buono that’s got a hold on us. The “Technically Single” songstress is already responsible for one of the biggest earworms of 2016. She’s continuing to shake things up with new single “Something About You.”

Soaring synths and atmospheric production set the scene for Buono’s sweet vocals. On the track she attempts to describe the fleeting emotions of young love. “Just something about you / holding on your love / never get enough,” she croons.

The song has a personal inspiration for the rising hitmaker. “It’s about summer nights and carefree adventures we’ve had,” she said, referring to a special boy in her life.

The accompanying music video captures the ephemeral nature of love, as Tayler Buono embarks on a late-night adventure across Los Angeles and Malibu of her own. “We just drove around and would pull over at different cool places we found,” she explained before adding, “I feel like the video reflects the nostalgic, free spirited feel of the song and has some pretty cool, artistic visual effects.”

She’s right on the mark with that statement…

Her adventure is captured in a series of dreamy scenes that take her from the beach to a lookout that gives her a glimpse of Los Angeles’ cityscape glowing in the darkness. A series of Tumblr-esque filters distort the footage and provide some added depth. It’s a joyful and free-spirited adventure, perfectly reflecting the wild nature of love.

Check out Tayler Buono’s “Something About You” visual below!

Queen of #RelatableContent! Tayler Buono definitely has another potential hit on her hands with “Something About You,” and the vibrant music video makes it all the more youthful and gorgeous!

What do you think about Buono’s latest effort? Let us know if you’re booking a trip for your own LA adventure in the comments below!

“Something About You” was released on August 5, 2016 (iTunes).

Britney Spears

Britney Spears returns to form, reshapes her musicality, and has a damn good time doing so on Glory. We are not worthy…

“Here’s our invitation baby / hope it sets us free” pop legend Britney Spears coos on the introduction to her ninth studio album Glory. After months of elusively teasing the album’s release (and even more waiting and seeing on behalf of her belabored fans) it is finally here! Glory opens with a fragile outpouring of emotion from our beloved hitmaker; it’s a daring move, and one that promises big things. Luckily enough, Britney Spears is ready to deliver!

Britney Spears

The album comes at a crucial time in Spears’s career. After 2013’s lackluster Britney Jean, which promised personal cuts but delivered generic electronica, Britney Spears was at a turning point in her career. She could either evolve as a songstress or fade to the background in the face of today’s chart toppers. Her decision is overwhelmingly evident with Glory. Britney is on a mission; she’s coming back, looking delicious, and she’s on her way to reclaim her Pop Throne. After all, it’s Britney, bitch, and no one puts Britney in a corner…

Glory‘s lead single and buzz tracks proved that the pop icon was prepared to break some longstanding traditions surrounding her musicality this time out. The G-Eazy’s assisted lead single “Make Me…” eschewed her clarion call to the dance floor and coquettish moans in favor of something a little more… Vibey. She served a lush vocal arrangement over sweet synths, coupling her seraphic vocals with G-Eazy’s urban edge to achieve something new and cutting edge for her discography. Buoyed by a Top 20 debut, the track ushered in a new age of Britney Spears.

After “Make Me…” Britney managed to keep fans on their feet with a slew a promotional, instant grat tracks, each of which showcased the new and unexpected. She batted her eyes and twitched her hips over a production that blends the sass of urban pop with the jauntiness of doo wop on “Private Show.” The track saw some of her most ambitious and engaged vocals to date and vibrates with the energy of a playful striptease.

The ragtime inspired “Clumsy” saw her referencing her earliest hits and bedroom eyes over a more traditional EDM production, and her final promotional release, “Do You Wanna Come Over,” is probably the most Britney Spears of them all. Boasting a throbbing bassline and coyly delivered lyrics, Spears takes it from the dance floor to the bedroom for a healthy romp in the sheets.

Britney Spears

While each of the tracks introduced a new side of Spears, they admittedly presented a somewhat uneven glimpse at the album that is Glory. It was unclear how these disparate songs that incorporated such diverse, genre-hopping styles would blend into a cohesive album. Don’t you worry your pretty little faces though! With one listen to the entirety of Glory, those worries evaporate. Somehow Britney manages to combine the heavenly synths, throbbing bass, frenzied beat drops into one sumptuous bundle.

After opening with the organic and fragile “Invitation” (seriously, it’s one of her best ballads to date), “Make Me…” and “Private Show” follow, then we break into the aural “Man On The Moon.” With a writing credit from the emerald haired up and comer Phoebe Ryan, the track feels like a more resolved revisiting of Britney Jean‘s “Alien.” Cosmic theme? Check! Introspective lyrics about lost love? Check! A raw glimpse into the mind of one of the biggest pop stars of the new millennium? We’re three for three here, folks! Boasting a swirling production and heartfelt lyrics, Spears pines for a lost love while soaring through the deep reaches of the milky way.

Britney Spears

Next comes the highly anticipated Spears-Cashmere Cat collab “Just Luv Me.” The track has been a fan favorite since a brief snippet of the moody midtempo leaked in the weeks leading up to Glory’s release, and it’s fully mastered form is even more (dare we say it) glorious. “I’m not gonna ask you for nothing / just luv me” Spears vulnerably croons over atmospheric synths and smooth keys. It’s a surprisingly fragile call for love from the popstar who is renowned for disguising the more raw edges of her life in the public eye behind a pristine facade. Piercing the mystique, “Just Luv Me” is an easy standout on Glory. It’s rumored to be in the running to receive the single treatment, and it’s truly deserving of the limelight.

One of the most exciting announcements regarding the recording of Glory came when Britney Spears posted photos in the studio alongside Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels. The pair were largely responsible for crafting some of the biggest hits of the last year (Bieber’s “Sorry” and Gomez’s “Good For You”) and are easily some of the brightest young writing talents on the scene. As such, it should come as no surprise that “Slumber Party,” one of the first collaborations between Spears and Michaels, is a certified bop. The R&B and reggae infused slow burner is a laid back bedroom anthem, on which Britney’s vocals languidly caress her lover’s body. It’s like 50 Shades of Grey, but with a luxurious and velvety Red Room that hosts two lovers getting it on…

Britney Spears

While love and sex evidently played a large role in the development of Glory, it clearly wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for the pop princess. Spears promised that there would be some “I hate men” tracks on the release, and the first of which is “Just Like Me.” Opening with an acoustic guitar, the track incorporates some trap-lite elements on the chorus and sees Britney walking in on her lover boy getting it on with her clone. Spears voice resonates with earnest pain and confusion as she pronounces that her lover’s side chick looks “just like me.” It’s a heartbreaking  moment for the Britney, who struggles to come to grips with the infidelity over the imaginative production.

After that heartbreak, Britney lets her body do the talking on the brazen romp that is “Love Me Down.” Boasting a lusty production and some feisty rap/sung lyrics, the “Slave 4 U” hitmaker is at her most come hither as she begs her man to “love her down.” She sounds at ease and confident as she brazenly rides the beat and delivers some moaned ad libs before losing herself in ecstasy on the post-chorus.

Britney Spears

Following her seductive evening Spears tries to erase a lover from her mind over racing synths on “Hard To Forget Ya.” The Bollywood-inspired production sets the scene for a massive pop moment from Britney Spears. It’s a refreshing moment that serves as a bit of a pallet cleanser before we move into another groundbreaking moment on Glory: “What You Need…”

Over the course of her lengthy career Britney Spears has flirted with a pop rock sound but never fully embraced it. She put a dime in the jukebox and proclaimed her love for old school rock on her cover of “I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” delivered a thrillingly biting cover of Alanis Morrissett’s “You Ought Know,” and recruited Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker to add an edge to Femme Fatale bonus track “Don’t Keep Me Waiting,” but she’s yet to fully embrace her rocker chic edge. Enter “What You Need.” Closing out the standard edition of Glory, it growls across the soundscape.

Britney Spears

“I got that good, good stuff you can’t erase” Britney cockily snarls across the production. Her proclamation demands listener’s attention, and her adorable pronouncement of “that was fun” in the final moments closes out the standard edition on a surprisingly playful note.

In true Britney Spears fashion Glory’s deluxe edition houses material that is just as good if not better than some of the numbers that made the official cut…

Britney Spears

The first of those is the Tranter and Michaels assisted “Better.” Easily Britney’s most current number on the album, “Better” is a delectable serving of tropical house that would burn brightly atop the charts. With production from Bloodpop, who also helmed Bieber’s “Sorry,” the breezy track is a refreshing release. Although rumors (that have since been proven false) originally linked Justin Bieber to “Just Luv Me,” it’s markedly easier to imagine the Purpose crooner lending a verse here. His pioneering of the tropical house movement would only add to the bright release and make it that much more likely to explode.

The standard edition of Glory showcases a decidedly global flare, and that carries over into the bonus tracks. “Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes) sees Britney Spears dusting off her Rosetta Stone tapes to beg a Latin lover to get a little nas-tay over a striding production.

Britney Spears

Things get downright heated as Spears tells off a cheating lover on the barbed “Liar,” and it’s another stupendously brazen “I hate men” moment on Glory. Blending symphonic instrumentals with an urban country edge (bet you never saw that one coming), Spears tells her man to suck on her toe (figuratively) and proclaims that she “ain’t fucking with your dirty laundry” (literally, slay queen).

The track’s early aughts inspired production and self confident lyricism draws parallels to Britney‘s “Lonely,” and “Liar” has the potential to become just as beloved to her fan base. Renowned as one of the kindest and least dramatic artists in the industry, it’s surprisingly nice to see Britney bare her teeth a bit. It’s easily the single fiercest moment on Glory and possibly throughout Spears’s discography.

Britney Spears

Experimental, carbonated twerk anthem is literally the only way to describe “If I’m Dancing.” Britney’s vocals soar over a dramatically unhinged production, as she loses herself in her lover’s music. It’s an endearing and daring release, and the proclamation that she sees “candy-coated heart shapes” upon making eyes with her boy pushes it over the edge into pure, unadulterated pop magic. The track is Britney at her most playful and cutting edge, making it all the more endearing.

It’s Frenchney, bitch. In an homage to one of her most beloved albums to date, Britney Spears closes Glory out with an ode to a love so fierce that it kills the lights (and effectively refenerces TWO moments in Spearstory) on the darkly brooding “Coupure Electrique.” Delivered entirely in French, the track’s title literally translates into “blackout” and is as mysterious as her 2007 album of the same name.

Britney Spears

“I forget the world, when you make / make love to me, my love / like a power outage” Spears icily croons (in FRENCH, it’s multi-lingualney, bitch) over a production that growls and clicks across the soundscape. The resulting magic closes out Glory with a moment that is as enticing and mysterious as Britney Spears herself.

With writing credits on more than half of the album and her most engaged vocal performances in eons, Glory delivers everything that was promised on Britney Jean and then some. The pop icon has clearly rediscovered a passion for her music, and she embraced it in style. It’s easy to imagine Glory joining Blackout and In The Zone as one of the most beloved album’s of Spears’s career.

Glory is more than a return to form for Britney Spears. It’s a creative rebirth and an invitation to join her on her journey. With every crooned lyric, every ethereal synth, frantic beat drop, and every thoughtfully delivered lyric the pop deity beckons us a little closer. True to form, her spark is electric. It’s the word of Godney, and it’s a word worth listening to. The album is easily one of if not the best in her discogrpahy, and it’s a true contender for the best and most cohesive album of the year.

Britney Spears

Glory will be available for purchase on August 26! Pre-order HERE!