Author: Briana Ellison
Almost three years after the release of her highly underrated third full-length solo album “ARTPOP,” pop songstress, superstar and actress Lady Gaga has returned with her flawless new single titled “Perfect Illusion.”
The song was released to the world at midnight on September 9, a mere hour after it premiered on iHeart Radio. The single’s release followed about a month’s worth of rampant speculation by die-hard Gaga fans (including myself), after the singer released a series of Instagram photos announcing the single’s title, but not the specific release date. In fact, Gaga didn’t specify that it would be released today until Tuesday, September 6.
“Perfect Illusion” is the first single off Gaga’s yet-to-be-identified fourth full-length solo album (fifth if you include her stellar 2009 EP “The Fame Monster”). The song was put together by a dream team of collaborators: Gaga herself (she’s known for actually writing her lyrics), her long-time collaborator Mark Ronson, BloodPop and Kevin Parker from Tame Impala. These four came together to create a song that is — as the first word of it’s title implies — perfect.
As a hardcore Lady Gaga fan, I’ve been waiting in barely concealed anticipation for this single and the album to follow, especially after the injustice that accompanied the release of “ARTPOP” (seriously, that album is amazing and should be appreciated more). I was unsurprisingly nervous and excited when the single finally dropped last night and as of now, since I first listened to it at about 1:10 a.m., I’ve listened to “Perfect Illusion” about 30 times (and counting).
But as I said, the single is flawless. The song starts off with a very pop-rock guitar riff overlaid with a glaring, siren-like techno beat; the same one that’s been traveling over the internet once Gaga released it as a teaser almost 48 hours ago. As Gaga begins a series of perfectly pitched runs, a twinkling dance beat joins the beautiful mix of noise, bringing together the two musical entities Gaga loves most: rock and dance.
I don’t think I can reiterate enough times how beautifully controlled and pristine Gaga’s voice is throughout this entire song, so I’ll turn to the lyrics. If you’ve been paying attention to the news — and just her life in general for the past three years — you’ll know she’s had some amazing ups, but also some downs; I’m speaking here about her personal life and — again — the reception of “ARTPOP.”
Never one to be vague, Gaga immediately begins her first verse discussing the enormous amounts of pressure she’s been under: both with the expectations everyone had as her acting career took off with “American Horror Story” and the anticipation for her new album. However, as the chorus hits — a perfect dance track that should be hitting every DJs playlist right now — she turns to explaining how all of these proved as distractions from the state of love that wasn’t real, hence the title “Perfect Illusion.”
Let’s turn back to her vocal performance. “Perfect Illusion” does a better job of showcasing her vocal range than the reigning song exhibiting her vocal prowess, “Bad Romance,” does (and that’s an accomplishment). Though her lyrical inflections are emotionally raw (seriously, the first time I listened to it, I almost cried) and you can feel every slice of betrayal she feels, Gaga really let’s loose with her voice. It begins during the bridge, as she repeats “It was a perfect illusion” and “mistaken for love.” As she moves into the last few chorus runs, her voice goes higher in octaves, never straining, but growing more powerful.
Though the song is a journey from learning about betrayal or a facade to accepting it, the pure and unadulterated emotion never leaves her voice. This is Lady Gaga at her best, with a song that you can dance to and relate to, a song that’s flawless and a song that shows she’s much more than her “eccentric” outfits.