Nightman Listens To – Lady Gaga – Chromatica (2020 Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! This could be a biggie Out of all of the pop acts on the 2020 Series list, Gaga is probably the biggest. It’s her or Taylor Swift, right? They’ve both been around for ages and both have a bunch of hits. I can’t actually name a single Taylor Swift song, but I can tell you a few by Gaga. I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed any of those songs – Poker Face…. the one from The Oscar…. the one about glory… but they’re fine. She seems like a good vocalist, she has her own visual style, plus she claims to enjoy a bit of Metal. If she had come up when I was a teenager, I probably would have had much stronger words for her one way or the other. But I’m old and I don’t care. Now, it’s all about the music. Does it move me? Does it challenge me? Does it beckon me to stretch these gnarled joints and shuffle them about in a pseudo-rhythmic mockery of dance? I wouldn’t say I have high hopes for this one, but there’s a bit of anticipation around it. I’ve never listened to a Gaga album before, and most of the pop albums from 2020 I’ve listened to have been okay. Pleasant. The odd bop. Nothing on the levels of what I personally love in pop, but not bad. Lets see what Gaga has to say for herself.

How These Artists Crafted Lady Gaga's Latest Album Cover Look | Vogue

I can’t say I’ve paid attention to any of Gaga’s previous album covers, but I do know she’s into fashion and image, and has a defined style. This all seems a little raunchy, a little BDSM, a little cyber-witchy. Lots of spikes and sparkles. Does this imagery bleed into the music, the lyrics, themes, tone, and atmosphere?

Looking down the track-list I don’t recognise a single song, but I’m immediately curious to find out if this is an attempt at a pop concept album. A few of the song names hint at this, but plenty of pop acts over the years have attempted similar things to little or no real effect. Gaga sure has the clout, and hopefully the creativity to give it a shot – to make something more than just another pop album. By the time you read the next paragraph, I will know for sure.

Chromatica is just another pop album, but it’s a very good pop album. It’s brazen in its confidence and displays songwriters at the peak of their craft, and while its aspirations at being a full blown traditional Concept album fall short, it has enough thematic through-lines that we know it’s an album with something to say, an album which is as much a journey of catharsis as it is a batch of dancefloor favourites. I knew nothing about Gaga’s life before this album, beyond that time she wore a meat suit and that time she sang at The Oscars, but having lived in this album’s orbit for some time I feel closer to her know as a human and artist.

Chromatica follows the similar signature moves as many of the other pop albums from 2020 I’ve listened to so far, particularly how it wears its influences on its sleeves. There’s no escaping the comparisons to Madonna, something I understand has plagued Gaga her whole career. There are worse artists to be compared to, but every artist wants to stand on the quality of their own input instead of being labelled a knock-off. There are obvious call backs to Vogue era Madonna, but they are respectful, knowing, and are merely used as a jumping off point to make something new. This is where Chromatica succeeds over those other 2020 throwbacks; this is not a throwback, it’s a forward thinking dance pop album with one stiletto firmly planted in the 90s.

What I was most interested in when I wrote the intro to this post was whether or not this was a Concept album. The answer likely depends on what you think a Concept album should be – is it a series of songs loosely based around the same idea or topic, is it a full narrative with characters, a beginning, and ending? Chromatica is closer to the first definition – there isn’t a set narrative with the lyrics telling a clear story, but the songs and lyrics do still tell the story of Gaga’s journey through pain and out the other side. The musical threads weave a chronology from Disco through synth-pop to the House inspired underground movement of the 90s and the expansion of EDM, but it never loses its focus on melody and fun, even as each of the genres it cribs from often looked towards more experimental ends. It’s not enough to say that musical connective tissue makes a Concept album – after all, all albums without exception have the same connective tissue. A Concept album tends to have recurring motifs – snippets of the same musical notes repeating at different points throughout the album, the tone of the instruments unwavering in their commitment to the album’s atmosphere, and songs often running into one another making it difficult to determine when one ends and the next begins. Chromatica touches on these points in a cursory way – there’s a bit of sound bleeding from track to track but in terms of tone and motif there is little to suggest a wider Concept.

Yet, the album does hold together, conceptually. The three title-track instrumental interludes seemingly break the album into three acts. Musically, they’re not obviously distinct and thematically they chart an uneven, non-linear journey. That journey starts in a place of reflection, uncertainty, and even hope, proceeds to a darker, more angry middle, and concludes in a finale which attempts to reconcile with the past and to heal. Throughout each act there’s a inward search for answers, a self-loathing kink, and some accusations pointed squarely at others, an in each act there’s a clawing defiance that we can all be better, we can overcome and move on.

I would have preferred more variance in the album – most of the songs are upbeat, up-tempo floor fillers and as such early listens feel repetitive with only a handful of songs standing apart. With additional listens and examinations of the lyrics those subtle variances begin to drip out, never becoming a downpour. My early standouts remain my favourites – Fun Tonight and Sine From Above are the GOATs, with a few struggling to get that bronze position. Stupid Love is ridiculously catchy and even with its annoying quirks it nuzzles its way into your brain-meat. Alice is a fun, brief Conceptual opener with well-worn lyrical metaphors worn proudly while Rain On Me brings the always youthful spirit and vocals of Ariana Grande to an already energetic tragic tale.  There isn’t a weak link – from the instrumental linking tracks to the less eventful non-singles, there is always something to enjoy; a thumping beat, a neat vocal, a jarring lyric which opposes the care-free action of the music.

While the lyrics never scratch my personal itch of being raw, personal, and unique, as a whole they present a not-quite defeated heroine punching her way through the soil and back to life. There are recurring references to identity and uncertainty, escape and rescue, freedom and feeling trapped, frustration and death, addiction and honesty. Having not paid any real attention to Gaga’s music or lyrics previously, I can’t say if this is a step up, down, or sideways for her as an artist. Thematically she has a range to write about here, but the next level in her evolution could be to nail the lyrics in a more overt poetic fashion. That’s not necessary by any means, but from my personal standpoint, that’s what increases my connection to an artist.

You’re going to question the necessity of each song in any album that is sixteen tracks long – the three instrumental pieces are brief and bridge the gaps between each section of the album, and justify their position. Neither is the most breath-taking or interesting piece of music, but they’re short and inoffensive. 911 is about as average as the album gets and is skippable outside of the Concept, Plastic Doll is better but forgettable amidst everything else, and Sour Candy is the best of a dull mid album sequence due to it’s interesting structure. Enigma isn’t quite the anthem it wants to be – it’s close, but the chorus doesn’t live up to the hype of the verse and lead in, while Replay fuses any number of genres and hits together to make a solid dance mashup. The final three songs are a stellar conclusion, led by the album’s high mark Sine From Above. I’m not Elton John fan, and I didn’t recognise him until I read that it was him. It’s a furious, euphoric club classic the likes of which you’d expect from Sweden’s hit-makers, hitting the sweet spot of melody and emotion which makes music special. 1000 Doves is sweet and hopeful and feels more like an album closer than the Vogue sequel Babylon. Babylon isn’t exactly a dud closer because of the fun lyrics and antics going on in the production, but it isn’t a floor filling or emotive climax.

As far as my first Gaga experience goes, this was mostly positive. I can see why she’s adored, I can see myself listening to roughly half of the songs regularly in the future, and there’s enough good stuff here to make me curious about the rest of her discography. I’m also curious to see how I score the album in relation to Jessie Ware’s album – both ostensibly pop albums with similar tones.


Sales: 4. This will likely increase to a 5 over time, but at the moment it’s difficult to determine sales. It seems to be around 1 million worldwide, low when comparing it to A Star Is Born’s 6 million sales.

Chart: 5. As easy a five as you’ll ever get. Number 1 in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, UK, US, and others. Top 5 in most Countries which buy music.

Critical: 4. I feel like I need to be harsh here otherwise most albums in this series will get a 5 by nature of being included in the series. The album didn’t get many Number 1 Best Of The Year picks, but plenty of top 10s. While praise was positive, it wasn’t super gushing.

Originality: 3. You could go 2 here, I don’t think you can go higher than 3. It’s another album taking its cues heavily from previous artists and periods of time. That’s fine, but it doesn’t do anything particularly innovative to bring that time period up to date.

Influence: 3. I imagine anything Gaga does will be influential in the pop landscape – along with some of the other retro-type pop albums of 2020, there seems to be a backwards looking movement. I can’t say whether this individual album will do anything to influence other artists more than any of Gaga’s previous work already has.

Musical Ability: 3. It follows a tried and true approach with little musical variation. Everyone knows what they’re doing.

Lyrics: 3. The album has lyrics. They’re fine. Other may enjoy them more and take the score to a four. It’s certainly not a two, but not personal enough for me to get higher.

Melody: 3. Possibly harsh, but most of the solid melodies miss out on being quite as anthemic or ear-bait as I’d like. I can see plenty going for a 5 here, for me it’s close to a 4.

Emotion: 4. I’m happy to go 4 here. There’s a range of emotion which is often hidden by the music rather than accentuated by it, but those emotions bubble up with further examination.

Lastibility: 4. It’s a solid collection of floor-fillers, good for summer driving and winter clubbing. The singles will likely live on and be recalled in years to come.

Vocals: 3. I’m a little disappointed here, hence the 3. I know Gaga can wail, but there’s not much of that in this album. There are a few nasal moments too, and quite a few instances of one of my biggest pet hates; putting an ‘o’ sound in front of an ‘I’ sound, to make a weird Irish/Cockney ‘oi’ disaster. It’s one of the reasons I could never get invested in certain sections of Punk, with their obnoxious ‘oi oi oi’ chants. Even the otherwise excellent Sine From Above suffers from it.

Coherence: 4. Ignoring the assumption that it’s a Concept album, it holds together well in terms of genre, atmosphere, and tone. Taking the Concept into consideration, its coherence runs deeper, even if there isn’t a pure narrative thread from start to finish.

Mood: 3. Go 4 here if you must, but for me to give a higher score in this category – I need to feel it. Even with the Concept and the emotion involved, this is primarily a dance record and there’s only so much mileage in in Mood I can get out of it.

Production: 5. There modern day pop albums know how to sound good. I don’t know shit about Production, but I couldn’t find any significant faults here.

Effort: 4. Gaga seems to pump out albums very quickly, so she’s driven and still at a personal peak. This takes inherent effort. Add in the push to make this a personal Concept album and you can imagine this took more effort than just another Pop album.

Relationship: 3. The universal personal stuff I can relate to, but more so I can relate to the artist wearing her heart on her sleeve and exposing herself, regardless of the specific details. I don’t think she went personal enough for me to give this a higher score.

Genre Relation: 4. It sounds like a lot of the other pop albums I’ve heard this year, and aside from the obvious improvements in tech, it sounds like the early 90s albums it draws inspiration from.

Authenticity: 4. I see no evidence to doubt its sincerity, either when acknowledging its influences or being open about its emotions.

Personal: 4. It’s a lowish 4. I don’t think I can go three because I enjoyed it more, as a whole, than some of the other albums I’ve given a 3. But because it lacks 1 or 2 more big chorus bangers, it’s a low 4. Still, it’s an enjoyable modern pop album which I can see myself listening to again – that’s something.

Miscellaneous: 4. A rare 4 in this category, because a big all guns blazing tour followed, along with one of those re-release remix albums too.

Total: 74/100

Is this our highest scoring album so far? If so, I wasn’t expecting it to be, but I guess it’s justified. I think it’s maybe a match with Future Nostalgia, which is fairly apt.  Will anything else top this score? There are plenty more albums remaining on my 2020 list, so stick around to be find out! Let us know your thoughts on Chromatica below!

Hilarious Lyrics Translations – April 2015

Please note – the following hilarious translations are not the same as the equally hilarious misheard lyrics, nor are they actual translations currently out there in Pop Land. All I have done is taken a famous song and slapped the lyrics into one of the famous (ly bad) Internet Translation tools – translated from English into Korean, then back into English, with hilarious results. I picked Korean because, based on previous experience, it seems to struggle in the funniest way with the English language, and vice versa. Each week, I’m going to select some of the most famous songs of all times, of recent times, and throw in a few obscure favourites too, all for your enjoyment! Lets start the laughter right now!

Poker Face

For the longest time I was not aware this song existed. Then, one sultry night in St Lucia I was made aware of its existence via the drunken medium of Karaoke. Since then I have maybe heard it only a handful of times -having been dragged to some terrible basement club where fools dry hump each other into a flaccid frenzy. Beyond that, a number of Gaga songs have passed through my sound-caves without too much distress. I’ll admit that some of her sub-Madonna tunes are catchy, and that her, or her management team, seem to have a talent for making headlines, but aside from that Gaga and her music have failed to make an impact on my life. Today all that changes as, seven years too late, I try to decipher her lyrics. I’m going to guess they concern outwitting supervillians and their metal-rimmed bowler hat wearing henchmen.

 The Original

Mum mum mum mah. Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah. Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah

I wanna hold ’em like they do in Texas, please
Fold ’em, let ’em, hit me, raise it, baby, stay with me (I love it)
Love game intuition play the cards with Spades to start
And after he’s been hooked I’ll play the one that’s on his heart

Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh, I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh, I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got

Can’t read my, Can’t read my, No he can’t read my poker face
(she’s got me like nobody)
Can’t read my, Can’t read my, No he can’t read my poker face
(she’s got me like nobody)

P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face (Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face (Mum mum mum mah)

I wanna roll with him a hard pair we will be
A little gambling is fun when you’re with me (I love it)
Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun
And baby when it’s love if its not rough it isn’t fun, fun

Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh, I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh, I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got

P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face, (Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face, (Mum mum mum mah)
(Mum mum mum mah) (Mum mum mum mah)

I won’t tell you that I love you, Kiss or hug you
Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin
I’m not lying, I’m just stunnin’ with my love-glue-gunning
Just like a chick in the casino, Take your bank before I pay you out
I promise this, promise this, Check this hand cause I’m marvelous

P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face (Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face (Mum mum mum mah)

The Translation

Ma ma ma Mahjong, Ma ma ma Mahjong
Ma ma ma Mahjong, Ma ma ma Mahjong
Ma ma ma Mahjong

They want to I, as Texas, wait a minute they
(I love it), listen to me hit me, them, let them, ‘Fold the impression your baby
Love games and card games spades straight start
And after he’s been addicted I play one of his mind

Oh oh oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh, I showed him what I found, that’s hot
Oh-e-oh-oh-oh, oh, oh oh oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I showed him what I found, that’s hot

Naeeul can not read, I can not read
No he can not read my poker face (She’s got me like nobody)
I can not read, I can not read
No he can not read my poker face (She’s got me like nobody)

P-P-P- poker face, P-P- Poker Face (Ma ma ma MAH)
P-P-P- poker face, P-P- Poker Face (Ma ma ma MAH)

We are going to be, I want to roll with him a hard one pairs
You (I love it) a little fun while gambling with me
Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun
And if the baby is not being tough love its fun, fun

Oh oh oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh, I showed him what I found, that’s hot
Oh-e-oh-oh-oh, oh, oh oh oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I showed him what I found, that’s hot

P-P-P- poker face, P-P- Poker Face (Ma ma ma MAH)
P-P-P- poker face, P-P- Poker Face (Ma ma ma MAH)
(Ma ma ma MAH) (Ma ma ma MAH)

I love you, will not tell you Kiss or Hug. My Muffin ‘bluff it causes
I lie not, my love glue – I’m just stunnin as offal numyeo total
Just like a chick in the casino, Take your bank before I pay you
I promise, this promise, Make an amazing hand cause I yiyayi

P-P-P- poker face, P-P- Poker Face
(Ma ma ma MAH)
P-P-P- poker face, P-P- Poker Face
(Ma ma ma Mahjong)


Aww, bless. She was singing about sex. There’s nothing braver than singing about something as natural and as important so survival as eating, breathing, and sleeping. Ayumi Hamasaki’s Poker Face is better. Truth be told, the original lyrics above contain some fairly terrible lines in the good old tried and true routine of ‘pick a subject, any subject, and then make it about sex’. ‘Check this hand cause I’m marvelous’ is just about as awful a line as you’ll ever hear, and is almost worthy of its own WTF.

As is standard with the WTF translation, the lyrics take on a much more interesting and disturbing life of their own. We get to business immediately as the translator takes Gaga inane time-filling warbling and uses it to create a subtle new level of conflict within the story – we have not only two parties whose groins wish to mash together for a few sloppy moments, but we now learn that one is a Poker fan, and one is a Majong fan – a lip-licking development.

Rather than dealing with all the pussy-footing (ahem) and teasing of the original, the translation seems to deal with the act itself – the crazed words spat out by folks in the middle of sex – the words which must never be spoken or thought of again for fear of a total shame-based breakdown, but which seem perfectly vital at the time. As such, the opening lines lack coherence, and are more the result of half-thoughts and guttural results caused by the impact of special areas slamming together. Similar to when you get gut-punched, you may let out an involuntary ‘urgh’ or ‘korraaapgghhhh’, Gaga and her mate are panting and spouting nonsense.

In the bridge, we get further insight into Gaga’ character, perhaps she actually is a Secret Agent, and her partner is her partner, and she thinks it’s ‘hot’ to show him what she found. Is she turned on by seeking the approval of her superiors and/or colleagues? Gaga then relays her honesty as she presumably doesn’t want this relationship to simply be based on sex, but trust – she sees a future in it and doesn’t want there to be any secrets. She she tells the guy that she cannot read. That’s a pretty important secret, but hardly surprising reading the original lyrics. She has essentially, after a single meagre sex act, devolved from an independent woman to a compliant housewife to be – the reference to Majong disappears, as she casts off her prior interests to better suit her man. You can tell though that she feels a little ashamed of what she has become with the emphasis on ‘MAH’ – she wants to speak out, but holds back and the last moment.

 This twee compliance continues through the following lines, with ‘We are going to be’ and ‘We (I love it)’, with the final burn coming in ‘I love you, will not tell kiss or hug’ where she basically states that she loves this man, but isn’t going to force him into anything he doesn’t want – no kisses, hugs, or cuddles dear, just bend me over when you want me and I’m good (I love it). Unfortunately, this treatment eventually forces her inner Ophelia out, and she is left an insane trembling shell of what she once was, making up words, and comparing herself with poultry and carcass. The most interesting line in the whole piece is ‘I’m just stunnin as offal’ – not only is this as sardonic and brilliant a lyric as anyone could hope to create, but it’s oddly prophetic given some of Gaga’s costume choices over the years.

Beekeeper’s Blues

An apt choice from my random iPod selection, and a fitting partner to Poker Face, Susanna ‘Goddess’ Hoffs’s bluesy folk ballad is a tale of love gone sour, with some decent, bitter lyrics. Not one of my favourites from Hoffs, it’s nevertheless a song with plenty of opportunities for hilarious results.

The Original

You only call when you want money, And when I need you you’re not there
Everybody else has written you right off
You make it hard to care, You’re pretty hard to bear

Women think that you’re a genius ‘Til you get caught for who you are
I reeled you in and you ate me half alive
You were a future star, Who do you think you are?

No good deed will go unpunished, oh oh oh And no beekeeper goes unstung
And these boots are made for walkin’ They’re walking back to you
What else can I do?

I know you know that you’re good lookin’ And you’re not known for too much else
I took you in and you left me half alive
Don’t know what you do Or who you do it to

When I’m gone someone will save you. When she gets tired there’s always someone new
I reeled you in and you ate me half alive
You were a future star . Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are? I reeled you in and you ate me half alive
You were a future star. Who do you think you are?

No good deed will go unpunished, yea yea yea. No beekeeper goes unstung
And these boots are made for walkin’, I’m walkin’ back to you
What else can I do?

Oh no no (oh no no). Walkin’ back to you (walkin’ back to you)
Oh oh oh, walkin’ back to you (walkin’ back to you)
(I’d do it all again, I’d do it all again) with you

The Translation

Call only if you want the money. When you’re not, I need you
All the others have written for you right now, even now,
So you can hard-nerve. You bear a pretty hard

Women think you’re a genius, Till you caught anyone you ‘
I’ve been feeding you your half eaten me alive.
You were the future stars. Who do you think you are?

What good works are oh, oh, oh, I will go punishment. And more beekeepers go unstung
And boots are made for walkin ‘ They’ve got you walking back
What can I do different?

I said, ‘You know what you’re looking for good, And you’re not so much known to others
I live a half you had you left me
Do not you know what, Or who you do it to

When I do not have someone to save you, New people are always tired when she
I’ve been feeding you your half eaten me alive.
You were the future stars, Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are? I’ve been feeding you your half eaten me alive.
You were the future stars. Who do you think you are?

What good deed is indeed true, as indeed the punishment to go
Some beekeepers go unstung And boots are made for walkin ‘
Stuff I walked back to you What can I do different?

(Oh no), Ania. Walkin ‘(walks back to you again, you’)
Oh, oh, oh, walk (walk back to you again, you ‘)
With you (again I will do everything, to do everything again.)


It’s always difficult to decipher these jumbled disasters, especially when there are many difficulties with punctuation, repeated words, and thoughts left hanging mid-flow. What sense I can gleam from it seems to copy over much of the bitterness of the original, but with an added cannibalistic flavour. ‘I’ve been feeding you, your half eaten’ is disturbing enough to feature in a Thomas Harris novel, while the repeated appraisals of punishment and ‘What can I do different’ hint at a the fevered mind of a serial killer who know they can’t stop themselves. In direct contradiction to the original’s ‘No Beekeeper goes unstung’, Susannah says that some in fact do escape sting-free. Is she the Beekeeper? Is that her serial-killer title? I think we need to get Columbo on this one, stat.