Twenty-five shows deep into her Joanne World Tour, Lady Gaga is seemingly shedding the persona that redefined her career in anticipation of a new album.
“Sorry Joanne, Gaga’s come out to play,” she told a sold-out crowd Saturday night at Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun Arena, just as she launched into the bass-heavy bridge of Born This Way cut “Bloody Mary,” writhing around with her backup dancers as the tune’s backing track bellows “Gaga, Gaga” in haunting repetition.
Fans were quick to herald the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment as a signal that a new era looms on the horizon, as Gaga spent much of the Joanne cycle (and resulting tour) requesting that fans refer to her by her late aunt’s first name as a means to carry on the young woman’s legacy following her untimely death in 1974 at age 19. With Joanne platinum-certified in the United States, the album has served its purpose, and the performative identity can now take a step back into the Gaga canon as the pop superstar readies herself for another reinvention under her original stage name.
While the creation of Joanne was a highly personal endeavor (chronicled beautifully by documentarian Chris Moukarbel in the Netflix film Gaga: Five Foot Two), fans were at first reluctant to accept its stripped musical stylings, though the LP ultimately found its rightful place among the most celebrated sets of Gaga’s discography. Still, ahead of a two-night stint at New York’s Citi Field in August, Gaga revealed to EW she’d begun writing for her next project, a curious (yet altogether welcome) move for someone deep into the promotional cycle for her previous release, which vaulted her toward a new apex of success after fronting the most-watched Super Bowl halftime show of all time in February (post-show sales rocketed the album’s second single, “Million Reasons,” to No. 4 on the Hot 100 in the U.S.).
So, where does Mother Monster — arguably at the top of her game after one of the most successful years of her career — go from here? As she preps to release a soundtrack of original tunes tied to the release of A Star Is Born, her first major movie as a lead actress, a flurry of clues have trickled in from around the internet regarding her next standalone album, giving us a peek at what Gaga has up her sleeve for the follow-up to Joanne. Here’s everything we know about LG6 so far.
A new song with a Frankenstein theme is in the works
Gaga gave fans a concrete preview of her upcoming material at a Nov. 5 tour stop in Indianapolis, where she sang a new song while backstage meeting with VIP ticketholders. Accounts vary, with some saying the song is titled “Frankenstein,” though others claim it’s “Frankensteined,” but the consensus agrees: the lyrics supposedly invoke a turbulent period in Gaga’s career, during which her commercially successful (yet unjustly marginalized) ARTPOP era resulted in behind-the-scenes shakeups (she split with longtime manager Troy Carter shortly before the album’s release before Bobby Campbell boarded Team Gaga in 2014).
The song’s title recalls Mary Shelley’s classic novel, in which a notorious alchemist, Victor Frankenstein, concocts a humanoid monster, which ultimately kills its maker’s bride, Elizabeth, and best friend, Henry. Gaga followers have noted similarities to Gaga’s struggles through the ARTPOP era, as she and her professional ambitions were metaphorically pulled apart and stitched back together (like the bits and pieces of the body of Frankenstein’s monster).
While it touches on issues of death, grief, and perseverance in the face of obstacles, Joanne takes a rather optimistic approach to complicated issues, but it was founded on Gaga’s signature penchant for the macabre. “I’ve just been weeping while I’m here because I have returned to something I’ve believed in so much, which is the art of darkness,” she told EW during a 2015 cover story interview pegged to her appearance in the fifth season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, which she said inspired future musical output. “It’s not something that everyone understands, but, for the people that do — Horror Story fans, my fans — there is a true connection between us, and it’s a language within itself.”
The dark nature of the title “Frankenstein”/”Frankensteined” also conjures memories of Gaga’s Fame Monster era in 2009, inspired by the singer-songwriter’s bouts with the grim side of success (she explored fears pertaining to death, sex, and substance-related vices on the eight-track EP), the lighter side of which she sang about on her debut album, The Fame, in 2008.
Stoking interest even more, Fresh 102.7 radio host Mike Adam told his followers that Gaga will perform the song at Sunday’s American Music Awards. Representatives for Gaga did not immediately return EW’s request for comment regarding the AMAs.
LG6 clues might be hidden in the “John Wayne” music video
A mere two singles were released from Joanne: lead single “Perfect Illusion” and the soaring ballad “Million Reasons,” and their accompanying music videos (notably toned down from the extravagant theatrics of Gaga’s previous releases) linked together for a continuous narrative of destruction and revival. Though not officially released as a Joanne single, rollicking banger “John Wayne” received a stunning Jonas Åkerlund-directed visual nonetheless, which picks up right where the “Million Reasons” clip left off, except this time with a manic, stylish aesthetic similar to what Gaga created with Åkerlund for 2010’s “Telephone” music video. As the video closes, Gaga spins around atop the trunk of a convertible, spraying bullets from the heels of her impossibly high stiletto boots.
On Saturday, Gaga posted snapshots from a recent photoshoot, holding the end of her boots in a manner that recalls the fan-favorite “John Wayne” sequence.
Gaga also “dies” twice in the “John Wayne” video — once when she careens through the windshield of a car after it slams into a tree, and again after she’s accidentally struck by a boot bullet. Could Gaga’s weekend photoshoot be another hint at where she’s headed with LG6? When paired with the “Frankenstein”/”Frankensteined” rumors (death plays a key role in the thematic structure of Shelley’s novel), the “John Wayne” video sets the tone for a segue from the Joanne era into a new one rife with dark, monstrous trimmings.
Gaga’s recording with Born This Way/ARTPOP producer DJ White Shadow
Before she landed on the pop-rock and country-inspired tunes that made Joanne a hit, Gaga reportedly met with several producers, namely Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, RedOne, and more, to hone a sound similar to what she’d released in the past. RedOne revealed he’d worked on at least eight songs during the pre-Joanne sessions, though only one, “Angel Down,” made the cut. Now that the sun is setting on Joanne, Gaga has re-teamed with her “Applause” hitmaking partner DJ White Shadow (real name Paul Blair) for LG6, and he’s not exactly keeping it a secret.
Blair’s Instagram account has lit up in recent weeks, teasing all things LG6 as he works with Gaga on the road. As Gaga has done in the past, she’s recording on her tour bus, which Blair has dubbed “the lab” (another nod to Frankenstein’s monster).
He also alluded to a new single in a lengthy Nov. 8 post, shared after he joined Gaga there for a Joanne World Tour stop.
“I am about to do some s— that will change the world. I am going to dedicate it to the people that I let into my life with love who abandon me when I needed them the most, and to the people that took advantage of me because my heart is bigger than my head sometimes,” he captioned a shot of him overlooking the city. “Every time you hear it on the radio, think of me.”
LG6 has been described as ARTPOP‘s “little sister”
On the fourth anniversary of ARTPOP‘s release, Blair shared another emotional Instagram post, further elaborating on the status of LG6 — perhaps teasing a sound in line with the dance-oriented songs found on the 2013 studio set.
“Four years ago I put out a record called ARTPOP with @ladygaga. I could write a book about it, maybe one day I will. I lost a best friend and manager, LG lost her entire support team, and we were all alone. I am so grateful for this record because it taught me a lot. I made some friends that have changed my life forever in the halls where this record was recorded, whom I love so incredibly deeply,” he wrote, additionally using the hashtag #LG6. “For all her flaws, strangeness and beauty, I thank you ARTPOP for the lessons learned and the gifts you gave. Happy 4th Birthday. I can’t wait to introduce you to your little sister.”
After Blair, who opened for Gaga on several stadium tour dates throughout the summer, shared the image, Little Monsters speculated that their current sessions might produce the long-rumored ARTPOP: Act II, a planned EP which Gaga spoke in favor of releasing several years ago. Blair further fueled the rumors of the unreleased project’s resurgence after he played a snippet of scrapped ARTPOP song “Tea” during his opening set at Boston’s Fenway Park.
Blair quickly shut down the ARTPOP: Act II rumors, however, tweeting that LG6 is “its own record” that signals “a new era” and “not a second act.”
More ARTPOP personnel have joined Gaga on the road
Benjamin Rice, who worked extensively with Gaga to create ARTPOP, has contributed to the LG6 sessions as well. Per a series of Instagram photos taken by Gaga’s boyfriend, Christian Carino, the recording engineer and vocal producer — who has credits with Britney Spears and Selena Gomez as well — has hit the road alongside Blair and Gaga to work on new music.
Carino has shared several candid photos of Gaga recording vocals for LG6 tracks, too.
Be sure to check EW as the LG6 train rolls along!