So in case you somehow missed it, Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album Chromatica was released on Friday and myself and the internet lost our damn minds.
This album is already iconic — I can hear the similarities with Born This Way and Artpop, but it’s more disco. It’s definitely something you can dance to and lose yourself in. Gosh, her mind.
If you haven’t listened to the album, then do so down below. And check out the book recommendations I give for each song!
“Alice” is about a girl who is unable to find peace in her life, relating to Alice from Alice in Wonderland who is struggling to survive growing up.
Could you pull me out of this alive?
Where’s my body? I’m stuck in my mind
For this song, I recommend L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black, an Alice in Wonderland retelling. Alice is trained to battle terrifying monsters in the dark realm called Wonderland, but in the real world, she has to juggle an overprotective mother, a high-maintenance best friend, and her grades. When Alice’s mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing further into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before.
Alice is such a badass in this book, but she also struggles with a lot and worries desperately that Wonderland might affect her more than she lets on. The song is also an Alice in Wonderland retelling, in a way.
“Stupid Love” is about falling for someone so completely and wanting their love over anything.
Now, it’s time to free me from the shame
I gotta find that peace, is it too late or
Could this love protect me from the pain?
I would battle for you (Even if we break in two)
For this song, I recommend The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation by MoXiang TongXiu. As the grandmaster who founded demonic cultivation, Wei WuXian was killed by the other clans. Years later, he’s reincarnated into the body of a lunatic who was abandoned by his clan, and is soon going on adventures with Lan WangJi, his old archenemy … who may care about Wei WuXian more than he realises.
Wei WuXian led a struggled life before he was reincarnated; now in his new body, he tries to overcome the shame he felt from his past decisions and find love with the one person who has always been by his side. This book is perfect for “Stupid Love” because Wei WuXian is stupidly in love.
Rain On Me (feat. Ariana Grande)
“Rain On Me” is about finding a way through your struggles towards inner peace, knowing that no matter how hard things get, you WILL find a way out of it.
Gotta live my truth, not keep it bottled in
So I don’t lose my mind
It’s coming down on me
Water like misery
For this song, I recommend On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Taylor is the leader of the boarders at Jellicoe School. She has to deal with keeping students in line and dealing with the yearly war games between her school, the school in town and the cadets that camp nearby during summer — which are run by Jonah Griggs, a boy she’d never thought she’d see again. And now her guardian, Hannah, has disappeared, and Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript Hannah was writing about five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road 20 years ago.
I adore this book so much because Taylor experiences so much heartache and struggle, but comes out of it healed and happy. She manages to find some peace in what she experienced when she was younger, and her journey is beautiful.
“Free Woman” is about Gaga as an independent and successful woman, who has grappled with sexual assault, and dealt with men in her life feeling threatened by her success — and eventually finding freedom and peace.
I’m not nothing without a steady hand (I’m a free woman)
I’m not nothing unless I know I can (I’m a free woman)
I’m still something if I don’t got a man
I’m a free woman
For this song, I recommend Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. The novel follows the lives of twelve very different people in Britain, mostly Black women, telling their life stories over years.
This book is a celebration of Black womanhood, queerness and intersectionality, in all its many forms. It’s about the power of women, about belonging, and about being free to express yourself and your identities fully.
“Fun Tonight” is actually about the complete opposite: it’s about Gaga feeling conflicted with the privilege her celebrity has afforded her but still finding so much of life and fame lacking.
I stare at the girl in the mirror, she talks to me too
Yeah, I can see it in your face
You don’t think I’ve pulled my weight
Maybe it’s time for us to say goodbye
For this song, I recommend The Ascent to Godhood by J.Y. Yang. The novel is basically a transcript of a drunken monologue by an assassin-turned-revolutionary Lady Han after the death of the woman she loved, the violent and dangerous Empress Hekate. Lady Han reveals how the two women met, fell in love, and how she followed the Empress’ cruel demands.
This novella is a perfect match for the song because Lady Han is NOT having fun tonight. The novella takes place over one night as Lady Han recounts the good days she spent with the Empress, full of fun and privilege, and how those turned to dark ones as Lady Han starts to feel guilty about her role in the Empress’ rule.
“911” is about an antipsychotic drug that Gaga has to take, and even though it helps her, it also has side effects that she struggles with.
Turnin’ up emotional faders
Keep repeating self-hating phrases
I have heard enough of these voices
My mood’s shifting to manic places
My biggest enemy is me
For this song, I recommend Daisy Jones & the Six. Daisy Jones is an up-and-coming singer in L.A. in the late sixties, who is the epitome of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. At the same time, the Six, a band lead by Billy Dunne, is also getting notice. Soon, a producer discovers that Daisy and Billy have amazing chemistry together and brings them together to record an incredible album. There’s only one problem: Daisy and Billy hate each other.
This song is the perfect match for Daisy Jones & the Six because both Daisy and Billy are addicted to music and drugs — but Daisy struggles deeply with her addiction, mainly because she doesn’t see it as one. She can’t understand how much her addiction is affecting her for a long time, before eventually coming to terms with her damaging behaviour and realising Billy is not her enemy: she is her own enemy.
“Plastic Doll” is about the pressure Gaga feels to fit herself into the perfect popstar stereotype, and how she’s spent her entire career being different and absurd so people wouldn’t dehumanise her.
I’ve got blonde hair and cherry lips
I’m state of art, I’m microchipped
Am I your type? Am I your type?
I’m not your plastic doll
Don’t play with me,
It just hurts me
For this song, I recommend The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. In 1617, almost all the men in a tiny Norwegian island are drowned during a massive freak storm. Without men, the women of the island, including Maren, must fend for themselves. Three years later, the sinister Absalom Cornet arrives with his new wife, Ursa. Ursa is both terrified of her husband, who burned witches in Scotland, and drawn to him. But that changes when she meets Maren and discovers a town run by independent women.
I love this book so much, I want everyone to read it. It’s a perfect match for “Plastic Doll”, because Ursa very much tries to fold herself into the mould of “perfect wife” for Absalom but struggles so deeply, because she’s not a doll, she’s an independent woman — which she discovers through Maren.
Sour Candy (feat. BLACKPINK)
“Sour Candy” is about telling your partner to accept you for all you are, including your flaws, and that they can’t change you because you’re perfect the way you are.
If you wanna fix me, then let’s break up here and now
I’m hard on the outside
But if you give me time
Then I could make time for your love
For this song, I recommend The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin. In The City We Became, every city has a soul — some are ancient, and some are like children. New York is about to be born as a soul, but there’s an ancient evil from an alternate universe that is trying to kill New York before it is born. So New York fights back by putting itself into the bodies of five different people — representative of the five boroughs — who must come together to save the city.
The City We Became is an iconic book and matches this song perfectly. The main characters are representations of the boroughs they belong to and they are unapologetically themselves. They don’t allow anyone to tell them who they should be, and the entire book revolves around this concept.
“Enigma” is about remaining mysterious and hiding your true self from your lover, but willing to take on any role a lover wants you to be.
Open-minded, I’m so blinded
Mystery man, woman phantom
We could be lovers, even just tonight
We could be anything you want
For this song, I recommend The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller. This Slytherin romance is about Alessandra who has made a plan to woo the Shadow King, marry him, and then kill him and take his kingdom for herself. But the Shadow King is a harder man to kill then she realised, and soon she finds herself falling for him too.
I read this book last month and love it so much. Alessandra is definitely an enigma as she hides her true self from the Shadow King and is willing to be anything for him — before she kills him and steals everything from him.
“Replay” is about the constant, repetitious self-judgemental thoughts Gaga has and how much they pain her.
Every single day, yeah, I dig a grave
Then I sit inside it, wondering if I’ll behave
It’s a game I play, and I hate to say
You’re the worst thing and the best thing that’s happened to me
For this song, I recommend Rend by Roan Parrish. Matt is married to Rhys and still can’t believe his luck. As a foster kid who was abandoned by everyone in his life, Matt thinks it’s only a matter of time before Rhys leaves him. This becomes exacerbated when Rhys goes on tour for his music, and Matt quickly finds himself sucked into a void of self-doubt and fear.
I chose this book because the main character Matt struggles so much with self-hate and judgemental thoughts, much like Gaga explains in this song. His thoughts are repetitive and its such a struggle for him to deal with them, even with his partner.
Sine from Above (feat. Sir Elton John)
“Sine From Above” is about Gaga’s songwriting process and how close she feels to God when she develops her music, her art — and how music has become her God.
When I was young, I prayed for lightning
My mother said it would come and find me
I found myself without a prayer
I lost my love and no one cared
For this song, I recommend The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara feels unheard and unloved in her Harlem neighbourhood, but she has a lot to say. She writes all of her frustration in a notebook — about her feelings for a boy from school and about her overly protective, religious mother. When Xiomara is invited to her school’s slam poetry club, she worries about attending without her mother finding out, and soon discovers a world of acceptance in performing her poems.
The Poet X is about writing poetry and poetry as an art, as Xiomara worships her poetry the same way her mother worships God. The book is also told in verse, so it’s like you’re reading Xiomara’s poems.
“1000 Doves” is about Gaga sharing her love of her fans and wanting us to see her as a human being, not just another vapid popstar. She explains how our love has saved her and how she was once caged but now feels free.
I need you to listen to me, please believe me
I’m completely lonely, please don’t judge me
When your tears are falling, I’ll catch them as they fall
I need you to listen to me, please don’t leave me
For this song, I recommend Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (tw: rape). Each year, eight human girls are chosen to serve the demon king as consorts, his Paper Girls. But this year, Lei is chosen as the ninth girl. Lei is kidnapped and brought to the demon king’s palace where she is forced to train to become his bed partner. And there she does the unthinkable: she falls in love. Not with the demon king, but with another Paper Girl.
Girls of Paper and Fire is one of my favourite books ever and “1000 Doves” fits it perfectly. Lei struggles so much to be seen as someone worthy, as her status means she is ignorant and only good enough to warm the king’s bed. She’s trapped in a gilded cage, but the love she has for Wren, another Paper Girl, allows her to seek freedom and love.
“Bablyon” is about Gaga finding a way to let go of the negative effects of fame and popularity through gossip. She finally finds the peace she’s spent so long searching for.
Strut it out, walk a mile
Serve it, ancient-city style
Talk it out, babble on
Battle for your life, Babylon
That’s gossip, what you on?
For this song, I recommend Circe by Madeline Miller. Circe is the daughter of the sun titan and a nymph. She’s a strange child, especially when she comes into her dark powers — witchcraft, which terrifies the gods. Threatened by her, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island. There, she hones her magic and comes across famous figures from Ancient Greek history: Medea, Daedalus and Icarus, the Minotaur, and of course, Odysseus.
I think Circe is a perfect book for “Bablylon” because it’s an ancient historical novel, and much of what we know about Circe is based on incorrect information — or, gossip. Circe also spends so much of her life listening to gossip about other people and the events happening outside of her island, before she ultimately meets these people. She also spends a good portion of the novel searching for happiness and peace.