The best song from every Lady Gaga album
Our love affair with Lady Gaga’s music has been anything but a bad romance. We’re just days away from the launch of Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album, Chromatica, which drops May 29. She’s on the edge of glory and to celebrate this momentous occasion, we launched a heated EW debate. We asked staff the very difficult question: Which song is the best from every Lady Gaga album? Because it’s all covers, we’ve excluded Cheek to Cheek, but we chose to include the A Star Is Born soundtrack, given Gaga’s instrumental role in writing and recording it. Everyone has a million reasons behind their favorites, but in the end, only six could be the queen of the Monster ball. Click through to find out the results of which songs most inspire our stupid love for Lady Gaga.
The Fame: “Paparazzi”
“Just Dance” and “Poker Face” may have been Lady Gaga’s first two singles, and the tracks that made her a star, but this twisted take on stalkerish-devotion was far and away the EW staff fave. While so much of The Fame are solid dance tracks that prove Gaga was born to be a pop star, “Paparazzi” is the track that really points to her ability to interrogate fame and love in compelling, provocative ways. It proved that while Gaga was always down to make you dance, she was also unafraid to push the envelope and explore the vagaries of love, sexuality, fame, and more in her songwriting. We’re this song’s biggest fan, we’ll follow it until it loves us.
The Fame Monster: “Bad Romance”
Could there be any other choice? “Telephone” has the strength of an iconic music video, but from the moment "Bad Romance" dropped, Gaga ra-ra-ah-ah-ah’d her way into our hearts. It’s dance beat combined with boundary-pushing lyrics defined so much of what the world has come to associate with Lady Gaga as an artist, while ironically also pointing to Gaga’s own oft-unlucky love life. It won two Grammy Awards, firmly enshrining it as a Gaga all-time classic. But beyond that the song firmly rooted her in a surrealist, pulsating, provocative sensibility that still defines her artistry today. There will never be a time that we don’t want it bad, this bad romance.
Born This Way: “You and I”
It feels impossible to choose one track off this album with its wealth of riches that includes “Born This Way,” “Judas,” “Edge of Glory,” and “Marry the Night.” But EW staff opted for the first big track to really nod to Gaga’s piano-playing, singer-songwriter roots. There’s still a hint of the glam rock she loves so well here, particularly in Queen’s Brian May’s guitar solo, but it’s altogether a more stripped-down song than the pop bops that dominated her early career. It’s become a stalwart classic at her live shows, a chance to make it just about the piano and her deeply powerful voice that we love just as much as her distinct dance moves and pop bravado. There’s just something (something) about this song.
Lady Gaga’s lives for the applause, and we live for the way this song makes us feel. Artpop pushes Gaga’s pop sensibilities to their limit, infusing her pop-rock brand with heavy EDM and techno influences. The entire album, but “Applause” in particular offers a return to the electropop sound that launched Gaga’s career. We love the duality of this track, its desire to plumb the lines between art and pop culture, while also celebrating Gaga’s pure love for performance and, well, applause. Lyrics don't get much clearer than “I live for the applause, applause, applause," and we love that Gaga so unabashedly loves performing and the high she gets from applause. So, here’s a standing ovation for Lady Gaga and this Artpop track.
Joanne: “Million Reasons”
While Gaga is the queen of the glam pop dance track, she’s equally adept with a bare-bones ballad. In its totality, Joanne offers listeners a softer, more stripped-down version of the often outré star. “Million Reasons” is perhaps the purest reflection of this, with its pleading, plaintive tone and its emphasis on Gaga’s own spirituality in the lyrics: “I bow down to pray.” It showcases the haunting beauty of Gaga’s voice in unprecedented fashion. With her “Sound of Music” performance on the Oscars, Gaga began to transition to a new image, exposing even more of her trauma and pain. The master of contorting her public image, she opted instead for authenticity and it reached its crescendo in “Million Reasons” meditation on self-doubt and yearning. We’ve got a hundred million reasons to love this song, but we only need one good one to put it on our list.
A Star Is Born Soundtrack: “Always Remember Us This Way”
There’s an A Star Is Born track for every mood and the EW staff's devotion to them is as varied and beautiful as the soundtrack itself. “Shallow” might seem the obvious choice, given that it won the Oscar for Best Song, but we’ve opted for another Ally ballad, “Always Remember Us This Way.” Lyrics like “That Arizona sky burning in your eyes,” “It’s buried in my soul like California Gold,” and “Lovers in the night/Poets trying to write,” make the song a poem in its own right, evocative and elegiac. The piano-driven ballad is a showcase for Gaga’s powerhouse voice, as it moves from the whisperings of its opening lines, soft and invoking love as an act of prayer, to the heroic belt of the chorus. While “Shallow” is a rollercoaster ride of romantic discovery and yearning, this song is a full-throated expression of love. “Shallow” may have earned Gaga an Oscar, but we’ll always remember the film and Gaga's emergence as a true movie star this way.