The pop star is back to making dance-pop jams with her surprise Coachella release

By Nolan Feeney
April 17, 2017 at 01:58 PM EDT
2017 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - Weekend 1 - Day 2
Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Just in time for Easter, Mother Monster is risen! Okay, so Lady Gaga was never gone — it’s been only six months since she released her endlessly debated Joanne, and only two months since she dazzled the Super Bowl with a halftime show that miraculously managed to unite Democrats and Republicans alike. But this weekend, while filling in for Beyoncé as a Coachella headliner, she gave sweaty festival crowds and live-stream lurkers a surprise holiday treat: a new song, “The Cure,” that marks her re-entry into the world of flashy dance-pop.

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Go ahead and hang up your pink cowboy hats — gone are the twangy guitars and rock-and-roll signifiers of Joanne. Instead, Gaga teams up with DJ White Shadow and Nick Monson, who worked extensively on her 2013 album ARTPOP, and a few other co-writers for a breezy, finger-snapping summer jam. Yet to call “The Cure” a return to disco stick-riding form isn’t quite right. The track marks yet another sonic detour for the singer in that “The Cure” is — bummer alert! — sort of generic. From the vaguely dancehall-inflected EDM beat to the chirpy synth earworm that could very well be more of the pitched-up vocal samples all over the radio, “The Cure” resembles a lot of other pop songs at the moment. And whether you loved or hated ARTPOP, revered or rebuked Joanne, the one thing every Gaga fan can probably agree on is that her songs have always been singular. That her latest could belong to any number of B-list pop singers is more shocking than that video of her trying to swallow an octopus.

Perhaps that’d be more disappointing if “The Cure” wasn’t so, well, potent. Even when she’s writing a love song as straightforward and on-trend as this one, she still knows how to write a good hook, and “The Cure” ranks among the catchiest, most immediate, and thankfully least self-serious songs she’s put out in recent years. It’s simply fun. And for a song released with no hype or expectations as a (presumably) one-off summertime gift for fans and festivalgoers, that’s just the right prescription.