Single review: Lady Gaga - Perfect illusion

Review: Lady Gaga - Perfect illusion | Random J Pop

With every album Lady Gaga puts out, her lead singles get simpler, more stripped down. We went from "Just dance" to "Bad romance" to "Born this way" to "Applause". And now there is "Perfect illusion". This is the grittiest song that Lady Gaga has done and it feels regressive with the intent of being progressive. You could imagine Lady Gaga performing this song way before she was Lady Gaga. Here you just have Stefani Germanotta. This is part of the charm of "Perfect illusion", but the issue here is that when you strip away the illusion of Lady Gaga, Stefani ain't bringing it.

"Perfect illusion" was written and produced by Lady Gaga herself, Mark Ronson, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala (who gained a bit of mainstream pop exposure via Rihanna's cover of "New person, Same old mistakes") and BloodPop, who was responsible for Justin Bieber's "Sorry". Individually, each of these artists and musicians have written and produced great songs. Yet between the four of them, they weren't able to make one song work. Each of these artists have a distinct, stand out style, yet none of them come through on this song. The only one of the four who somewhat does is Kevin Parker, as the general vibe of the song feels like a Tame impala song, particularity on the chorus. But no Tame Impala song has ever sounded this hollow to the point of missing something.

The vibe of "Perfect illusion" is a decent one. It has a nice tempo and a nice set of chord progressions. But it feels sorely lacking on all fronts. The production is weak. It isn't punchy enough. Big enough. Bold enough. It doesn't smack you in-between the eyes the way that the song thinks it does. The song structure feels like its still in demo form. "Perfect illusion" needed a strong middle 8 and a proper bridge section. The key change, whilst nice, is too premature. It comes in out of nowhere about a minute and a half too soon. Gaga's vocals are also severely under produced. They are in dire need to being smoothed out with delays, reverb and maybe a smattering of auto tune to tighten the mix. Lady Gaga starts the song with singing, but 2 minutes into the proceedings, she just shouts through the song. I get she's probably trying to convey the anger at being fucked over and falling out of love, but there's no mistaking that Lady Gaga's voice is not for the upper registers that the song commands in its latter half.

I like the simplicity of "Perfect illusion". The lyrics don't try too hard, the rhythm is simple, as are Gaga's vocals. But the song as a whole feels incomplete, which is at odds with an artist whose songs are usually over produced and overblown. It's not what you would expect from a lead single from Lady Gaga. But if there was any point in her career where she could get away with doing a song like this and dropping a bit of a flop, then its now.

"Perfect illusion" is not a completely terrible song. At its core, there is a good song, but it's so far from the surface that it's easy to notice that it's even there. There's definitely room for "Perfect illusion" to grow into something better via remixes and live re-workings. But in its current form it's just not cutting it.

RATING: 3/10

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