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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Rate and review: 'Dawn of Chromatica'

Lady Gaga brings dozens of collaborators to give her 2020 album a new maximalist sound.

<p>&quot;Dawn of Chromatica&quot; sees dozens of collaborates put their spin on tracks from Lady Gaga&#x27;s 2020 album &quot;Chromatica.&quot;</p>

"Dawn of Chromatica" sees dozens of collaborates put their spin on tracks from Lady Gaga's 2020 album "Chromatica."

Lady Gaga’s "Dawn of Chromatica" feels to 2021 like "The Fame," her debut album, felt to 2008 — it takes the current state of pop to the edge.

The remix album to 2020’s “Chromatica” brings on dozens of collaborators and elevates the “Chromatica” musical universe into its highest hyperpop potential. 

Rooted in collaboration, "Dawn of Chromatica" sees Gaga as the stage rather than the performer. The popstar’s icon status creates a platform for the collaborators to bring their unconventional sounds to a traditional pop audience. The featured artists stand at the forefront of the maximalist movement pushing music forward.  

Hyperpop doesn’t have a specific sound and presents itself as a largely undefined genre cluster with sounds ranging from experimental glitchcore to abstract house-infused trance and exaggerated bubblegum pop. As a musical philosophy rather than a defined genre, it thrives on eccentricity and nonconformity. With roots in underground queer EDM clubs, hyperpop is inherently and undeniably attached to the experiences of the LGBTQ artists that pioneer it. 

More than just an ode to hyperpop and the queer communities that pioneer this subversive and expressive sound, the albums functions almost as a sampler of everything the genre cluster has to offer. 

The sixth track on the album, “911”, best represents the spirit of the record. This version of the song perfectly encompasses the shimmery extravaganza of the hyperpop philosophy – and who better to do this than some of the genre’s most notable faces. PC Music label founder and producer A.G. Cook and hyperpop fairy godmother Charli XCX deliver an addictive remix with layers of pulsating beats and shimmery synths. 

Another highlight comes from Venezuelan producer and singer Arca’s remix of the massive hit “Rain On Me” featuring Ariana Grande. Adding Arca, a deeply experimental artist, to a song by two of the currently biggest mainstream popstars contradicts itself so much that it makes sense in the context of an album aimed to deconstructing and reshaping pop. Rather than a clubby mix with a big, loud drop, the track feels atmospheric and toned-down from the original pop version. Sampling Arca’s 2020 tracks “Time” and “Mequetrefe,” as well as Venezuelan urban EDM track “Metelo, Sacalo” by DJ Yirvin, the track stays true to Arca’s unconventional and experimental nature while also creating an accessible remix of one of the biggest songs of 2020. 

The collaborators on the project take Gaga’s icon status to push the boundaries of the genre, illustrating what the future of pop looks and sounds like with innovative twists on a pop staple.

Chester Lockhart, Mood Killer and Lil Texas deliver one of the most cluttered, overly saturated and confusing expressions of the musical extremes contained within the album in their rendition of “Sine From Above” featuring Elton John. Mixing raucous sound effects with brash production, the track has so much going on at the same time that it becomes challenging to draw the line between genuine experimentation and satire. Rather than aiming to be a pleasant experience, the track offers ironic commentary on the boundaries of hyperpop, posing as a test of how far hyperpop can go. 

In an album filled with so much saturation and so many different sounds, it’s surprising to have somehow forgettable moments such as Doss’ remix of “Enigma”, Planningtorock’s remix of “1000 Doves”, LSDXOXO’s remix of “Alice” and “Babylon - Haus Lab Version”. 

Still, the album’s highlights outshine these dull moments. Pop artist Dorian Electra takes a similar level of experimentation to create an explosive and bold expression of audaciousness. Instead of sounding confusing, the “Replay” remix is so in-your-face aggressive that it feels like being on a three-minute-long rollercoaster drop. Taking elements from nu-metal and house, the remix begs to be played as loudly as possible.

In all its collective sense of community, it’s hard not to feel the late producer SOPHIE’s absence on the album. With her signature metallic sounds all across these colorful and innovative remixes, and with Bree Runway and Jimmy Edgar’s remix of “Babylon” even sampling her debut track “Nothing More to Say (Dub),” her influence can be heard in nearly every track. SOPHIE paved the path for these eccentric sounds to get featured on this scale, and her fingerprints are all over this project. 

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Other notable highlights come from Rina Sawayama and Clarence Clarity’s remix of “Free Woman,” Shygirl and Mura Masa’s remix of “Sour Candy” featuring Blackpink, and Ashnikko and Oscar Scheller’s remix of “Plastic Doll”. 

As a collaborative project and a statement to the future of pop, “Dawn of Chromatica” asserts the power held by innovators in experimental genres.  As hyperpop continues to expand and influence the mainstream, the album might serve as a blend of the movement with the more traditional sense of what pop music sounds like.

Rating: 8/10

Contact Kristine at kvillarroel@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktnedelvalle.

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Kristine Villarroel

Kristine Villarroel is a second-year journalism student at the University of Florida and a staff writer with the Avenue. In her free time, you can usually find her making playlists or talking about the full moon.


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