Released: September 9, 2016
To say Lady Gaga’s new single, “Perfect Illusion”, is a complete move away from her typical dance sound is a bit off a stretch. Generally, all of her lead singles from her records offers the trademark dance beats and gloss that keeps Gaga’s music quite entertaining and presentable for the new era. But “Perfect Illusion” is riding on a new route; instead of the typical synthesizers, polished vocals, and ever-so-wacky make-up and costume changes, the singer has decided to throw in her old clothes and completely re-invent herself as singer-songwriter material.
The single belts in some groovy guitar riffs that could have easily been flicked from the notebooks of the works like Bruce Springsteen and other 80s musicians, but is overlapped with some softer and fluid dance beats that Gaga has managed to channel over time in her career. But unlike many singles, her vocals are the major attraction here, for the right and wrong reasons. Gaga has managed to belt out some pretty raw and emotional vocals in the past, and its delivery during the verses and sub-choruses sound nice.
But when you get to the chorus, hell comes a bit loose. It’s not that they’re not powerful or strikingly interesting (that’s a bit off an understatement to Gaga), but her delivery sounds off-tune to the recording, which unfortunately downs the chorus. But it gets a bit worse during the final chorus when the key-shifts one note upwards, and her vocals sound extremely forced and uncomfortable. The lyrics are, of course, telling the tale of her split from her long-term partner, Taylor Kinney, and whilst they’re pretty solid, some parts sound pretty cliché and too straightforward, especially for Gaga standards.
Overall, “Perfect Illusion” is a cemented example of a new era for the re-brandishing of Lady Gaga, whom has managed to channel a variety of genres and sounds in the past couple of years. But as for the song itself, it fails to really pack a punch; the sound and change-up is nice, but the execution felt like it needed a bit more work into it.