“This music actually healed me.” That’s the hopeful message Lady Gaga brings with her as she emerges from something of a career detour—having mostly abandoned dance pop in favor of her 2016 album Joanne’s more stripped-back sound and the intimate singer-songwriter fare of 2018’s A Star Is Born. She returns with Chromatica, a concept album about an Oz-like virtual world of colors—produced by BloodPop®, who also worked on Joanne—and it’s a return to form for the disco diva. “I’m making a dance record again,” Gaga tells Apple Music, “and this dance floor, it’s mine, and I earned it.” As with many artists, music is a form of therapy for Gaga, helping her exorcise the demons of past family traumas. But it wasn’t until she could embrace her own struggles—with mental health, addiction and recovery, the trauma of sexual assault—that she felt free enough to start dancing again. “All that stuff that I went through, I don’t have to feel pain about it anymore. It can just be a part of me, and I can keep going.” And that’s the freedom she wants her fans to experience—even if it will be a while before most of them can enjoy the new album in a club setting. “I can’t wait to dance with people to this music,” says Gaga. But until then, she hopes they’ll find a little therapy in the music, like she did. “It turns out if you believe in yourself, sometimes you’re good enough. I would love for people that listen to this record to feel and hear that.” Below, Lady Gaga walks us through some of the key tracks on Chromatica and explains the stories behind them. Chromatica I “The beginning of the album symbolizes for me the beginning of my journey to healing. It goes right into this grave string arrangement, where you feel this pending doom that is what happens if I face all the things that scare me. That string arrangement is setting the stage for a more cinematic experience with this world that is how I make sense of things.” Alice “I had some dark conversations with BloodPop® about how I felt about life. ‘I’m in the hole, I’m falling down/So down, down/My name isn’t Alice, but I’ll keep looking for Wonderland.’ So it’s this weird experience where I’m going, ‘I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I’m going to try.’ And that’s where the album really begins.” Stupid Love “In the ‘Stupid Love’ video, red and blue are fighting. It could decidedly be a political commentary. And it’s very divisive. The way that I see the world is that we are divided, and that it creates a tense environment that is very extremist. And it’s part of my vision of Chromatica, which is to say that this is not dystopian, and it’s not utopian. This is just how I make sense of things. And I wish that to be a message that I can translate to other people.” Rain on Me (With Ariana Grande) “When we were vocally producing her, I was sitting at the console and I said to her, ‘Everything that you care about while you sing, I want you to forget it and just sing. And by the way, while you’re doing that, I’m going to dance in front of you,’ because we had this huge, big window. And she was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t. I don’t know.’ And then she started to do things with her voice that were different. And it was the joy of two artists going, ‘I see you.’ Humans do this. We all do things to make ourselves feel safe, and I always challenge artists when I work with them, I go, ‘Make it super fucking unsafe and then do it again.’” Free Woman “I was sexually assaulted by a music producer. It’s compounded all of my feelings about life, feelings about the world, feelings about the industry, what I had to compromise and go through to get to where I am. And I had to put it there. And when I was able to finally celebrate it, I said, ‘You know what? I’m not nothing without a steady hand. I’m not nothing unless I know I can. I’m still something if I don’t got a man, I’m a free woman.’ It’s me going, ‘I no longer am going to define myself as a survivor, or a victim of sexual assault. I just am a person that is free, who went through some fucked-up shit.’” 911 “It’s about an antipsychotic that I take. And it’s because I can’t always control things that my brain does. I know that. And I have to take medication to stop the process that occurs. ‘Keep my dolls inside diamond boxes/Save it till I know I’m going to drop this front I’ve built around me/Oasis, paradise is in my hands/Holding on so tight to this status/It’s not real, but I’ll try to grab it/Keep myself in beautiful places, paradise is in my hands.’” Sine From Above (With Elton John) “S-I-N-E, because it’s a sound wave. That sound, sine, from above is what healed me to be able to dance my way out of this album. ‘I heard one sine from above/I heard one sine from above/Then the signal split into the sound created stars like me and you/Before there was love, there was silence/I heard one sine and it healed my heart, heard a sine.’ That was later in the recording process that I actually was like, ‘And now let me pay tribute to the very thing that has revived me, and that is music.’”

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