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With 'Chromatica,' Lady Gaga wants you to dance your pain away. Would that you could …

Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

On Friday morning -- a few hours after the release of her new album, "Chromatica" -- Lady Gaga called off a virtual listening party due to the escalating nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police.

"As much as I want to listen to 'Chromatica' together as a global group of kindness punks right now, our kindness is needed for the world today," she wrote on Twitter before encouraging her fans to "take this time to register to vote and raise your voice."

It was just the latest instance in which the pop superstar has had to adjust her plans to account for whatever we're calling the pileup of outrage and disease and economic calamity that is 2020.

Originally scheduled to come out April 10, "Chromatica" was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also scuppered a surprise appearance at that month's since-postponed Coachella festival. And though her upcoming stadium tour hasn't been officially canceled yet, it's virtually impossible to imagine her playing such densely packed venues any time soon.

As a highly visible figure with a flair for drawing attention, Lady Gaga made the right decision in nixing Friday's event to allow space for more important matters -- as indeed she did again Saturday night with a pointed statement of support for the demonstrators (and their righteous anger) that avoided the usual celebrity equivocation.

"Everyday people in America are racist," she wrote, adding that President Trump -- "a fool," in her estimation -- "offers nothing but ignorance and prejudice while black lives continue to be taken."

 

Yet the singer's need to keep reckoning with these traumas demonstrates an inconvenient truth of being an artist: You create work in one context and release it in another, and the work must bridge that gap.

In Gaga's case, "Chromatica" was supposed to document an assortment of personal struggles -- with addiction, with depression, with the morality-warping experience of modern pop stardom -- and the strength she found in dance to overcome them.

"This is my dance floor I fought for," she sings in "Free Woman," while "Alice" has her searching for a "Wonderland" that closely resembles a rave.

A self-conscious return to the sleek dance-pop that made her a star in the late 2000s, her sixth LP was also conceived as a kind of brand reset after a half-decade of experimentation that included her 2014 duets album with Tony Bennett, the classic-rock-inspired "Joanne" in 2016 and her Oscar-nominated acting turn in the 2018 reboot of "A Star Is Born."

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