Lady Gaga is one of my favorite musicians. She has made some of the best dance music in the past decade. To me, she is everything that music should be: she writes her own songs, has a killer voice (that Oscars performance) and knows how to put on a show. Her discography is phenomenal, and there are a number of songs that would’ve made great singles. Let me take you through some of my top picks:
The Fame era
When Lady Gaga released her debut album, The Fame, it surprised me. I thought every track was stellar. It was a perfect mix of dance and pop music. This was when she first exploded on the scene, and the world was captivated by what she was wearing. It’s interesting, now her fashion taste is more relaxed. I think today, she wants people to focus on her music more than her outfits. Every single from The Fame was fantastic, each a different dance-pop anthem.
Songs that could’ve been singles:
Paper Gangsta is a favorite of mine. It is one of the darkest songs on The Fame. The thing that stands out the most to me about it is the piano melody. It’s haunting. It’s the first thing you hear and you’re instantly drawn in.
Paper Gangsta is also catchy as hell. Gaga sings over a piano, 808 machine, synths and it is all wonderful. Her voice is natural on it too. You could take away all the electronic beats and just leave the piano and that track would sound just as good.
Lyrically, Paper Gangsta is interesting. I’ve interpreted it as Gaga’s early struggles in the music industry (Her first record label dropped her). She speaks of not wanting to sign her life away, and how things may not always be what they seem. I think Paper Gangsta sounded different from other pop songs at the time, and it would’ve been cool to hear it on the radio.
Boys Boys Boys will forever be one of my favorite Lady Gaga songs. It’s a fan favorite because it’s fun, playful and a bit of a LGBT anthem. I remember watching Gaga’s HBO special Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball: Live at Madison Square Garden, and right before she performed Boys Boys Boys, she said “This one’s for the boys and the girls tonight… celebrate your gay pride!” My heart skips a beat every time.
Boys Boys Boys has some of my favorite Lady Gaga lyrics:
“Baby is a bad boy with some retro sneakers. Let’s go see The Killers, and make out in the bleachers.”
“Don’t forget my lipstick, I left it in your ashtray.”
“You taste just like glitter mixed with rock and roll.”
Lady Gaga has always vocalized her support for the LGBT community. I think if Gaga released Boys Boys Boys as a single it would have made her an LGBT icon earlier in her career. She is one now, but I think this song would’ve struck a chord with the community.
The number one reason I think Boys Boys Boys should have been is single is that it’s just so fun. Lady Gaga makes some of the best dance music around, and Boys Boys Boys is no exception. I can picture myself at a club screaming the lyrics to this track all night, and I love it.
In 2016, we all know how talented Lady Gaga is; look past all the crazy outfits and makeup, and she is an amazing musician. Her 2015 Academy Award Performance, jazz album with Tony Bennett and her track Til It Happens to You are just some things that show her raw talent. Her diehard fans and the people who bought her albums knew her talent from the start, but I think it took everyone else a few years to recognize it. Why? Because all of her early singles were fast dance tracks. I am not upset about that thought, trust me, I fucking LIVE for those songs. I just think if she released a more traditional ballad in addition to the dance songs more people would have seen how talented she is; case in point — Brown Eyes.
Brown Eyes is an underrated gem from her first album. It’s a breakup song, but a sad one. It’s about how you want someone to be with you, but it just wasn’t the right time. A topic that would’ve resonated with audiences. We all know of Gaga’s classical talent now, I just think Brown Eyes would’ve let people know earlier.
The Fame Monster era
The Fame Monster is unique. It’s a bit too long to be an EP, but not long enough to be an album. Many people considered The Fame Monster to be Gaga’s second album, and others, an extended version of The Fame. One thing is for sure though, The Fame Monster is a pop music masterpiece. It received rave reviews from both fans and critics alike, and helped Lady Gaga further captivate the world.
Songs that could’ve been singles:
I love the track Monster because it is one that infects your ears and brain. I think that is what Gaga meant to do. The song will cause a riot on the dance floor with its heavy bass lines, descending keyboard lines and massive chorus. The chorus kills me every time. When I hear Gaga say “That boy is a monster. Mo-mo-mo-monster,” I lose it. The muffled voice that haunts her own throughout the track adds to the overall moodiness.
Monster is a bit darker than the rest of the offerings from The Fame Monster. I mean, it has zombie metaphors– “He ate my heart and then he ate my brain.” All of the dark lyrics can be overlooked with the EXQUISITE RedOne production. RedOne is the man Gaga collaborated with on her some of her most popular tracks, and Monster is one of the duo’s best offerings.
I put an asterisk by Dance in the Dark because it “technically” was a single, but it didn’t get the release it deserved. Gaga wanted to make a video for it, but her record company chose to support the release of Alejandro.
Dance in the Dark has an interesting lyrical meaning. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gaga explained the meaning of Dance in the Dark:
“The record is about a girl who likes to have sex with the lights off, because she’s embarrassed about her body,” Gaga said. “She doesn’t want her man to see her naked. She will be free, and she will let her inner animal out, but only when the lights are out.”
It’s a unique topic, but I think people can relate to it. You never know what will happen when the lights go out.
Dance in the Dark isn’t just fascinating lyrically, it has some of the best production values on The Fame Monster. The song opens with a stuttering voice and Gaga’s moans, it then goes full new wave. Dance in the Dark is like Bad Romance in the sense that it’s loaded with several hooks. Any part of the song can get stuck in your head and that’s why it’s so frustrating it never got the full single treatment.
I think of Madonna’s Vogue every time I hear the spoken bridge of Dance in the Dark. Gaga name drops Jesus, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Princess Diana– just to name a few. It’s unique and an ode to one of Gaga’s biggest musical inspirations.
The Born This Way era
Born This Way was a different sound for Gaga. It was still dance, but this time around, Gaga incorporated electronic rock and techno into her sound. Born This Way sold over 1 million copies in a week cementing Gaga as a modern-day music icon. The title track also taught us one hell of a valuable lesson: Don’t be a drag, just be a queen. I am feeling nostalgic writing about this album now. I listened to it almost everyday for about a year and the songs mean a lot to me.
Songs that could’ve been singles:
I love Bad Kids because it really represents everything about Lady Gaga. She is different, a bit weird and people question her every move. Bad Kids is about embracing your inner weirdo and loving yourself. A major theme of Born This Way was self-empowerment, and Bad Kids fit this theme to a tee. The chorus: “Don’t be insecure if your heart is pure. You’re still good to me if you’re a bad kid, baby,” is simple, but extremely effective. It’s also an earworm that will be in your head for hours afterwards. Particularly when sitting in philosophy class, bored out of your mind; believe me I know from experience.
Some of the tracks on Born This Way had an ‘80s rock sound, and Bad Kids was one of these. Gaga has an angry spoken interlude where she declares “Enough is enough!” It sets the tone for the song, and prepares you for a mind-blowing experience.
While Bad Kids is about embracing your inner weirdo, Hair, is about struggling to accept it.
I think the chorus is really powerful on Hair. In my opinion, these lyrics speak for themselves:
“I’ve had enough, this is my prayer. That I’ll die living just as free as my hair. I’ve had enough, I’m not a freak. I’m just here trying to stay cool on the streets.”
Gaga’s hair is a metaphor for her identity. On The Graham Norton Show, Gaga said her hair is the only thing she can change without people judging her. She wishes she could be as free as hair. You don’t hear songs like Hair on the radio, and I think it would’ve been great for a song with a message like this to gain a wider audience.
Hair was a promotional single for the album, so it did get a bit of well-deserved attention. In the US, it sold 147,000 copies in its first week, and debuted at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Gaga also performed the song while promoting the album on Good Morning America and The Paul O’Grady Show.
The ending of Hair is fucking fantastic. Gaga’s layered vocals have the same effect that any choir could ever do. A saxophone appears, and Gaga pretty much screams that she is her hair. Her vocals are that of a classic rock sound, and calls back to songs by Iron Maiden and Kiss.
Do I think Heavy Metal Lover is the most commercial song on Born This Way? No, not at all. The reason I think it should’ve been a single is its experimental nature. It would’ve shown a different, weirder side of Gaga to listeners.
Heavy Metal Lover has probably my favorite opening lyric from any Lady Gaga song: “I want your whiskey mouth all over my blonde south.”
The song is lustful and sexy. I don’t think it would’ve made a big impact on radio stations, but Heavy Metal Lover is such a cool song to make a video for; there are so many ways to take it. Two ideas I have for it are:
- Heavy Metal Lover is a song for the bedroom. I imagine to figures lit with dark lighting– they’re dancing intimately, but it is all very sensual. As the song progresses and gets more intense, so do their dance moves. Everything is shot tasteful and well-done though. Heavy Metal Lover is already very sexual, so you don’t need overtly explicit images to go along with it.
- Night life in a post-apocalyptic world. Towards the end of the song, I picture Gaga staring at the camera with haunting eyes while walking down a dark destroyed street. The dark energy of the song matches with her surrounding environment perfectly.
The ARTPOP era
Okay, a lot was said about ARTPOP, and I am hear to say it wasn’t a bad album. It was just different, and maybe not in the best way. The one thing I will say about ARTPOP is that when it was good– it was really FUCKING good. Some songs were just a bit, eh. If you make an ARTFLOP joke, I will punch you in the face. It wasn’t a flop.
Songs that could’ve been singles:
If you want a futuristic R&B synthpop sound, look no further than Sexxx Dreams. The lyrics talk about a mysterious sexual encounter, and the fantasies that come with it. In an interview with The Daily Mirror, Gaga had this to say about the process of writing Sexxx Dreams:
“In my mind when I picture sex dreams, it’s so bizarre!.. It’s me standing there with some massive couture creation, staring at a blow-up doll or something. That’s what my sex dreams are like. My sex dreams are weird… Haven’t you ever been laying in bed with someone and fantasized about someone else?… In the song I’m explaining my infidelity to the person I’m with, and then I’m having a conversation with myself to the person that I’m fantasizing about.”
Sexxx Dreams has an old school Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul vibe to it because Gaga’s voice is breathier than usual. This complements the futuristic R&B elements well. Overall, the song is just playful and flirtatious. ARTPOP was a very serious project for Gaga, but I think a fun song like Sexxx Dreams would’ve lightened the mood a bit.
After the release of ARTPOP, Gypsy immediately became a fan favorite. I think the reaction to the track was so positive because of producer RedOne’s involvement (Gypsy was the only track he worked on for ARTPOP). Him and Gaga have a natural chemistry where they just make really fantastic songs.
Gypsy has a europop influence. It makes use of classic rock and house to create a unique sound. It’s a modern-day ‘80s style anthem; Gaga’s vocals soar like those of Whitney Houston.
Lyrically, Gypsy is about Gaga’s love of performing. She doesn’t want a home, she just wants to travel the world. The outro of Gypsy is one of my favorite moments in any Lady Gaga song. She sings it’s you and me baby for life, then names drops over a dozen countries. It seems weird, but wait until you hear it– it’s magical. Every time I hear this song, it makes me want to spin around the room and never stop smiling. That’s the thing I love most about Gaga’s music: it makes me smile. I think if Gypsy were a single, it would’ve brought a smile to more people’s faces.
At the 2016 Golden Globes, Gaga said she is releasing a new album this year. Looks like we have some great music coming our way soon!