Lady Gaga’s first single since her collaborative album with Tony Bennett was met with mixed reviews. ‘Perfect Illusion’ was praised for its raw, unfiltered power but its production drew criticism for its untimely key changes and lack of inventive lyricism. The track wasn’t an entirely surprising return for Gaga; ‘Perfect Illusion’ twisted the disco-rock/pop that brought her to prominence but it was still as garish as we’d expect from her. However, second single ‘Million Reasons’ distances itself strongly from anything we’ve heard from Gaga in her eight-year stranglehold on pop culture.
The track was performed on Wednesday, helping to kick off her intimate Nashville Dive Bar Tour. As well as ‘Million Reasons’, Gaga also performed ‘A-Yo’ and ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ for the first time (all three have been confirmed as tracks from the upcoming Joanne). ‘Million Reasons’ is an earnest country ballad at heart but Gaga herself has stated that the track has been ‘mixed with [elements of] funk and rock ‘n’ roll’. Just like ‘Perfect Illusion’, Mark Ronson and Bloodpop are enlisted as writers and producers, along with prolific country songwriter Hillary Lindsey. Once more, the track revolves around Gaga’s mighty vocal but the composition is a lot more humble this time round. Piano, acoustic guitar and the gentle rattle of a tambourine provide the only instrumentation in the track’s early stages. Unlike ‘Perfect Illusion’, the climax is well-timed, with Gaga’s cadent vocal closing strongly rather than straining towards the finish.
With ‘Million Reasons’ Gaga has maintained her promise of a more ‘roots-y’ sound- slow-cooked balladry certainly suits her vocal structure. Furthermore, something this slow and drawn-out is another brave move following a career epitomised by brash, sugary pop. Fortunately this time round the gamble pays off.
Images courtesy of Twitter and Digital Spy