lady gaga - "the cure" / by Zack Free

lady gaga's fifth studio album was an unprecedented moment of artistic maturation; joanne, released late last year, was arguably the performer's first album to posit her as a human being rather than some kind of kick-ass cyborg. the project largely distanced itself from the overblown, glitched-out dramatics of artpop, opting instead for a much rawer sound, instrumentally, vocally, and in terms of songwriting. it proved a successful transformation; the album hit number 1 on the billboard 200 chart in its first week, and its country-tinged second single, "million reasons" peaked at number 4 on the hot 100. gaga's first post-joanne single, "the cure," is another unexpected turn. it can't really be called a return to form; lady gaga has retouched the expectations of pop music several times, but never has she given in so readily to its current fixations. although produced by frequent gaga collaborator dj white shadow, "the cure" could have been tailored for almost any of your pop divas du jour. sure, gaga's voice is commanding as always, but her whispery delivery here smacks a little too strongly of ariana grande to come across as genuine. additionally, the production is diplo/skrillex-lite, starring a pitched-up vocal riff that sounds a good bit like the one in justin bieber's "sorry", and the writing is inane ("i'll fix you with my love / and if you say you're okay, I'm gonna heal you anyway"). it's a disappointing move for an artist that's always been ahead of the pack D


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