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Commercially, Joanne became Gaga's fourth album to reach number one in the United States, and also topped the charts in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the international charts of Japan and Korea, while reaching the top ten in over 15 territories. In order to promote the record, two singles were released, "Perfect Illusion" and "Million Reasons". The first was released as the album's lead single on September 9, 2016, going number one in France and Spain, while the latter was released on November 8, 2016, and reached number four in the United States. The supporting Joanne World Tour started on August 1, 2017 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada.
1 Background and development
2 Writing and recording
3 Release and leaks
4 Title, package, and artwork
5 Themes and influences
6 Music and lyrics
8 Critical reception
8.1 Year-end lists
9 Commercial performance
10 Track listing
12.1 Weekly charts
12.2 Year-end charts
14 See also
16 External links
Background and development
Gaga in a new image following the Artpop era.
Gaga's third studio album Artpop was released in November 2013 to mixed reviews. It debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, and has sold 2.5 million copies as of July 2014. During the album era, Gaga split from longtime manager Troy Carter in late 2013, and by June 2014, she and new manager Bobby Campbell joined Artist Nation, the artist management division of Live Nation Entertainment. On her personal life front, Gaga confessed to being depressed about herself and her talents, and had decided to quit music altogether. The ambivalent reception towards Artpop led Gaga's management to overhaul an image change for the singer. Along with a more subdued appearance in media, Gaga emphasized her vocal prowess. A tribute to The Sound of Music at the 87th Academy Awards, where she sang a medley of songs from the film, was critically lauded. She and Tony Bennett also released Cheek to Cheek, an album of jazz duets, in September 2014 to generally favorable reviews. It debuted atop the Billboard 200, becoming Gaga's third consecutive number-one album in the United States, and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
Additionally, Gaga starred in American Horror Story: Hotel (2015–2016), the fifth season of the American anthology television series American Horror Story, winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film. While collecting her award, the singer confirmed that she would be releasing her fifth studio album later in 2016, and was working on the logistics and aspects like the looks she would portray for the record. Throughout the majority of 2015 and 2016, Gaga teased the creative and recording processes of the album on her social media accounts. She was seen collaborating with longtime producer RedOne, as well as new collaborators like Giorgio Moroder, Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers, among others.
Writing and recording
Mark Ronson (pictured) and Gaga served as the album's executive producers.
According to Gaga, she wanted "the fans to be surprised [with the album]... But I will just tell you that it's a wonderful, soul-searching experience. And it's very unlike [Artpop] in that way." In an interview with Billboard, producer RedOne stated that the singer was mentally in a "cleaner" state of mind, hearkening back to her earlier days, which he felt was beneficial. Gaga and Ronson serve as Joanne's executive producers. The two had previously grown up within blocks of one another on New York's Upper East Side, and had collaborated on Wale's song "Chillin" (2009). They reunited in late 2015, when Gaga presented the song "Angel Down" to Ronson at a London studio. Later, the duo worked for six months in Rick Rubin's Shangri-La recording studio in Malibu, while Rubin was between projects. On Gaga and Ronson's first day at Shangri-La, they wrote the song "Joanne", and Ronson encouraged Gaga to write lyrics about "whatever was happening in her life or on her mind."
Recording continued until the album's final mastering session. Gaga was deeply involved with the technicalities of the music being recorded. "She loves just sitting at a piano and barking orders at a drummer and she has an incredible voice," Ronson said, adding that they first began with the music and then proceeded with the song. The producer later said that the music recorded with Gaga was "some of my favorite music I've really ever worked on. It's incredible – I love it. I can't wait until you can hear it because the music speaks for itself." Ronson also hinted the involvement of Kevin Parker, the frontman for the Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala, which BBC Music later confirmed to be true.
Florence Welch is a featured vocalist on "Hey Girl".
Many prominent musicians make guest appearances on Joanne. Gaga invited Father John Misty to play drums on the record, while Ronson invited Josh Homme to play guitar on the song "John Wayne", due to Homme's work for the band Queens of the Stone Age; in addition, Homme drummed and performed co-production. Ronson also invited Beck to collaborate on the album, resulting in the song "Dancin' in Circles". Gaga, a longtime fan of Beck's, was initially starstruck upon working with him. Gaga and Florence Welch developed the concept of their duet, "Hey Girl", during a meeting at New York's Electric Lady Studios. According to Gaga, the song's theme demanded a female collaborator. She selected Welch, calling her "if not the best, one of the greatest vocalists in the world."
Ronson crafted the album's organic sound by recruiting musicians he had previously worked with on projects for Rufus Wainwright and Amy Winehouse, but credited the producer BloodPop with "[bringing the album] into the modern era." In the meantime, Gaga collaborated with Elton John; their sessions resulted in a song titled "Room in My Heart", that did not make the album's final cut. Prior to the release of the album, John compared Gaga's songwriting to her earlier work on songs like "Bad Romance" (2009) and "You and I" (2011).
Release and leaks
Gaga's manager Bobby Campbell confirmed that the album would not be released until the later half of 2016, with Elton John saying that it would not be released until 2017. In September 2016, Gaga updated her official website announcing the advent of the new album era, with revealing the name of the lead single, "Perfect Illusion". On September 15, the singer appeared on Apple Radio's Beats 1 and revealed that the name of the album as Joanne and release date as October 21, 2016. She also confirmed that within the next 48 hours, the recording would be finished. Gaga confessed that finally announcing the album name and release date was a bittersweet moment for her, acknowledging that "this isn't the end just the end of this moment. It's also the beginning of this moment."
During the same interview, the singer confirmed that the album will not be an exclusive release under streaming services like Apple Music or Tidal, unlike recent releases. "I told my label that if they signed those contracts with Apple Music and Tidal, I'd leak all my own new music," she explained to host Zane Lowe. Gaga's stance was due to debate among the streaming service providers regarding exclusive streaming rights of artist's releases. Prior to its release, the album faced a number of leaks. On Amazon.com, the album was listed for pre-order and the songs were to be available as and when released. However, on Amazon's Echo speakers, fans found that if they instructed it to "Play Joanne by Lady Gaga", it previewed 30 second snippets of each track. Amazon later disabled previews for the whole album. Three days prior to the official release date of October 21, the album was mistakenly put up for sale in shops in Belgium, resulting in people posting it on the Internet.
Title, package, and artwork
Gaga's tattoo on her left biceps displays the date of her aunt's death, in between lines of a verse from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.
Gaga named the album after her father's late sister, Joanne Stefani Germanotta. She died on December 18, 1974, at age 19, due to complications arising from lupus. Gaga, whose middle name is Joanne (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta), noticed that her aunt's death had a profound effect on her family. Although the singer was born almost 12 years after Joanne's death, her aunt's influence was predominant on her family and her work. Her debut album, The Fame (2008), contained a poem titled For a Moment by Joanne in the album's booklet.
Gaga credits Joanne for helping her overcome addiction problems, and dedicated her The Fame Ball Tour to her. The singer tattoed the date of Joanne's death on her left biceps, in between lines of a verse from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. The singer's parents opened a restaurant called Joanne's Trattoria in New York in 2012. Gaga has often noted that although she had never met Joanne, she was "one of the most important figures in my life". So once Gaga wrote the song "Joanne" with Ronson, they decided to name the album as the same, making it a tribute to her.
Along with revealing the album title, Gaga also unveiled the cover artwork for Joanne. It consists of Gaga's left profile against a blue background with the singer wearing a pink, wide-brimmed hat. The hat was designed by milliner Gladys Tamez who revealed that it was also another source of inspiration behind the overall direction of Joanne. The milliner explained to The Daily Beast that the hats were inspired by English singer Marianne Faithfull. He added that "Gaga was the first to ever request this hat in pink, because it's her favourite color". Tamez named it as "Lady Joanne" and added that for the singer's preference he has to change the shapes, color and the ribbon on the hat. While designing the cover and the overall image for the era, Tamez and Gaga spoke of using more pastel colors, inspired by the 1970s.
Dominique Redfearn from Billboard noted that the cover was simpler in appearance compared to the ones for Born This Way and Artpop. Andrew Unterberger from the same publication described the cover art and the design as "thoughtfully composed", adding that it was indication of the music to be much more straightforward. The track list consists of 11 songs on the standard version and 14 songs on the deluxe. The album's booklet consists of personal items from the Germanotta family like Gaga and her father's pictures, Joanne's driving license as well as her handwriting. Gaga felt it was "nice to include family heirlooms that carry meaning to me still today... And a Polaroid of me and [Ronson] in the studio as we built our musical family of no rules pop cowboy dance soul funk rock."
Themes and influences
"Returning to your family and where you came from, and your history... this is what makes you strong. It's not looking out that's going to do that—it's looking in... Joanne is a progression for me. It was about going into the studio and forgetting that I was famous."
—Lady Gaga on the album's influences
Family is an underlying theme on Joanne, with Gaga explaining that the album "goes through all of [life]'s emotions". While crafting the album, Gaga envisioned a girl in the middle of the country, who would understand the lyrics that the singer had wrote, and also find a human connection. In order to achieve that Gaga decided to encompass a varied assortment of genres, including "[crossing] between country and funk, pop, dance, rock, electronic music, folk", as confirmed in an interview with E!. The tragic early demise of Joanne Germanotta added to the emotional quotient of the songs, as well as the lyrical content. Along with loss, other emotional feelings like heartbreak, identity, frustration, desire and nostalgia also influenced the album. The singer further clarified that with Joanne she wanted to go "out into the world and bringing with me its deepest stories that I have of my life and turning them into songs that I hope will touch people in a deep and meaningful way about their own lives and their own stories."
The singer's experience working on American Horror Story influenced the creative process of Joanne, with Gaga mentioning: "I have returned to something I've believed in so much, which is the art of darkness." Being on the show also affected her vocals, in which she explained the she would "listen" more to the music and then write; afterwards adding that the album will talk less about her painful time during the Artpop era and would have more clarity; "Now I'm thinking more about what it is I want to say and what I want to leave on Earth. It's less an expression of all my pain," she concluded. During a 2015 interview with The Inquirer, Gaga said that while making her new album she had discovered a new darker side to herself, darker than what fans might expect from her:
I am finding a million new things about myself, what I want and who I want to be but most importantly, I have actually found a place to put so much pain and anguish that I have nowhere to put. You can put it in your music but that's not always what people want from me in my music... They want a sweet, delightful, 'Just Dance' kind of girl or they want 'Bad Romance' and that's fine... I am happy to give people that but maybe with my song 'Dope' or some of the things I did on Artpop, you saw a kind of dark side, wrapped up in colors. But maybe that was not always what people want to see. They want to see the perfection... it's the imperfection that is the win.
Other influences came from the men in Gaga's life, starting from her father Joe Germanotta to ex-fiance Taylor Kinney. She cited that using her "rebellious spirit" she wanted to understand all the different relationships that she had gone through, saying that Joanne was not a "sad album. It's an album that is very revealing of me as a woman". According to Kevin Fallon from The Daily Beast, "The act of being Lady Gaga had drowned out the brilliant music, and the importance of Lady Gaga had somehow muddied the simple pleasure of being her fan: It was her authenticity, in all of its strangeness and lofty artistic pursuit, that spoke to us. That seemed to have gone missing." He felt that with Joanne, Gaga was able to eliminate that redundancy and presented herself as an "evolved performer", who could lay down bare emotions in the songs, rather than mask it in electronic music beats.
Music and lyrics
"Diamond Heart" was co-written and co-produced by Josh Homme.
Since Gaga did not want to restrict the music on Joanne to any particular genre, the album veers from dance-rock to introspective country music. The singer professed a fascination with country music and all aspects of it which in turn influenced the music of the album. In terms of production and composition, Joanne continued the "stripped-down" approach to music Gaga had undertaken following the Artpop era and gave more emphasis on Gaga's vocals and the lyrical aspects of the tracks, making them sound more like a story. During an interview with Rolling Stone Gaga added that the songs were "stories about my family, my sister, my father and his sister. My mom's family. My relationships with men, my failures".
Joe Lynch from Billboard described Joanne as a "a stylistically eclectic of collection of swaggering rock, introspective ballads and soulful, danceable grooves". It opens with the track "Diamond Heart" which sets the tone for the album. Hearkening to her earlier works, the singer utters the line "I may not be perfect, but... I've got a diamond heart". The lyrics are autobiographical in nature, talking about Gaga's time as a go-go dancer in New York. "Diamond Heart" changes from a moody vibe in the verses, exemplified through the use of Fender Rhodes keyboard, to a building drum-oriented pre-chorus, into a rock-EDM chorus, with Josh Homme playing guitar. The second track "A-Yo" has touches of country music, and is reminiscent of the music played in dive bars, with double hand claps and brass-accentuated beats. Lyrically it is a metaphor for having sex with someone, and the country music, achieved through the repetition of the same two chords, is complimented by BloodPop's background shouting vocals and synth addition. As the title track starts, the general tempo drops. Accompanied by just an acoustic guitar and minimal percussion, Gaga sings about her late aunt Joanne, with "heartfelt" lyrics.
The next track, electronic "John Wayne", is lyrically more tongue-in-cheek, with Gaga including cowboy references in the lyrics which go as follows: "I just love a cowboy, I know it's bad, but I'm, like, can I just hang off the back of your horse and can you go a little faster?". Gaga's vocals are accompanied by Homme's guitar and the track alludes to her previous relationships, with comparisons to actor John Wayne. The Beck-composed track "Dancin' in Circles" is a pop song, consisting of a dance beat, a spoken word middle 8 section and, lyrics which talks about having a good time by oneself. It was described by Nicholas Mojica from International Business Times as an "ode to masturbation", with influences of reggae and ska, hearkening back to Gaga's own "Alejandro", as well as the music of Gwen Stefani. The lyrics find Gaga fantasising about a past lover while dancing alone to herself late at night, the latter alluding to masturbation.
An 18 second sample of "Perfect Illusion", which illustrates the chorus of the song, with the guitar-and-vocal breakdown analyzed in the article, as well as the mixture of guitar and "grumbling" synths.
Problems playing this file? See media help.
According to Mark Savage from BBC Music, "Perfect Illusion" is a disco-rock song, which is composed around a building chord sequence, which he felt leads to a "compelling sense of urgency". The singer's vocals are kept raw and untreated on the song, eschewing autotune. The composition consists of "pulsing verses" and a guitar-and-vocal breakdown before the final chorus, with Gaga singing the main title multiple times. Around the two minute mark, there is a key change for the final chorus. In "Million Reasons" Gaga talks about love which does not last, with the singer uttering the title in several variations on the verses. The composition consists of simple country-oriented piano and guitar instrumentation. During the song's chorus, Gaga sings, "You're giving me a million reasons to let you go / You're giving me a million reasons to quit the show". According to Tom Rasmussen from Vice, "Million Reasons" has the most country music influence among all the songs from Joanne.
"Sinner's Prayer" consists of instrumentation from bells and whistles, and is a simulacrum of country music, along with R&B and pop. The Father John Misty assisted track finds Gaga being vulnerable, wanting her man to love her as she is. Lyrics like "Her love for him ain't cheap, But it breaks just like a knockoff piece from Fulton Street" references the similar named street in Manhattan, New York, where cheap trinkets are available. For the ninth track "Come to Mama", Gaga sings in an affected voice while elongating her vowel enunciation. The 1970s-inspired composition has a big chorus, highlighted by a brass section and bouncy drum rhythm, talking about accepting one another. The song has biblical references with Gaga alluding to both the Old and New Testament. The lyric about "a forty-day flood" alludes to Noah while "stop throwin' stones at your sisters and your brothers" is taken from one of Jesus' aphorisms, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
In "Hey Girl", BloodPop and Ronson added a downtempo funk production with Gaga and Welch's vocals taking prominence; the lyrics being an "ode to friendship". The eleventh track, "Angel Down", was inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman in 2012. Gaga sings lyrics like "Shots were fired on the street, by the church where we used to meet". A torch song consisting of just the singer's vocals and some "ghostly" strings, plus instrumentation from guitars, "Angel Down" finds her emote in an "honest and raw" manner according to Rasmussen. One of the tracks on the deluxe version of the album, "Just Another Day", starts with a synth introduction. It has influences of music by David Bowie and The Beatles with Gaga's prominent vocals accompanied by Ronson on guitar and Brian Newman playing horns.
According to Chris Willman from Billboard, the promotional "blitz" for Joanne "felt like something from a bygone era" due to the traditional route taken by Gaga and her team, in place of surprise album launches. During her interview with The Howard Stern Show Gaga clarified that she wanted to promote Joanne in the "old-school style" and the events leading up to the release were described by Willman as "the most culturally ubiquitous rollout since Taylor Swift's 1989 two years ago". Billboard also theorized that after the perceived commercial disappointment with Artpop, Gaga's management wanted to make sure for a comeback with Joanne. Adding to it, there was the musical and stylistic change that Gaga underwent with the release, which, without promotion, would have confused her core audience and fans. Willman concluded by saying that the promo will be able "to provide a pre-Super Bowl primer to Middle America — that somewhere between the meat dress and the Tony Bennett collaboration, Gaga has settled into a middle path."
Promotional activities for Joanne began with the announcement of "Perfect Illusion" as the lead single from the album. She performed it live for the first time at Moth Club in London, on September 10, 2016. Along with the track, Gaga also performed a piano version of "Bad Romance". She featured "Perfect Illusion" in a trailer for American Horror Story: Roanoke, adding to the anonymous nature of the theme of the season. Gaga released a number of commercials for Apple Music featuring "Perfect Illusion", went to give interviews with Good Morning America and The New York Times and appeared at Manhattan's Best Buy shop to purchase Joanne for unsuspecting customers.
Gaga performing "Come to Mama" at a midnight rally in support of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2016.
She performed "A-Yo" and "Million Reasons" on Saturday Night Live on October 22, 2016. For "A-Yo", Ronson assisted Gaga by playing guitar, and the singer did a honky-tonk and go-go dancing inspired performance. "Million Reasons" had the singer sitting at the piano belting out the song, backed by vocals from co-writer Hillary Lindsey. Paste's Chris White called her an "incredible performer and vocalist" based on the performances, adding "Gaga understands the stagecraft of playing live music on [the SNL stage]". An isolated mic feed from the performances was also highly praised for Gaga's vocal prowess. On October 25, 2016, Gaga appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden in his Carpool Karaoke segment, where she sang her previous singles, along with "Perfect Illusion" and "Million Reasons". On the journey Gaga chatted about her songwriting process, her acquired collection of Michael Jackson's clothing and even tried her hand at driving the car. Later she appeared on the main stage of The Late Late Show, partially hijacking Corden's opening monologues. She then joined the main band performing "A-Yo".
Following week after the performance, Gaga headed over to Japan to promote Joanne. She performed a piano version of "Perfect Illusion" on Sukkiri, "Joanne" on News Zero and a combination of "Million Reasons", "Perfect Illusion" and "A-Yo" on SMAP×SMAP. At the American Music Awards of 2016 she sang "Million Reasons" while playing a guitar, with the set resembling a camp ground. Billboard listed it as the third best moment of the night calling it a "resounding performance". A few days later Gaga visited the Ali Forney LGBT community centre and performed an acoustic version of "Million Reasons", seated atop a piano wearing a T-shirt that read "Be Brave". Gaga also gave a performance at presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's final campaign stop in Raleigh, North Carolina. She performed "Come to Mama" and "Angel Down" from the album.
Gaga traveled to Paris where she performed "Million Reasons", "A-Yo" and "John Wayne" at the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Cole Delbyck from The Huffington Post opined that songs from Joanne were not suitable as set list for the Victoria's Secret show. In the United Kingdom, Gaga began her promotion of Joanne with a surprise intimate gig at London's Shepherd's Bush Westfield shopping center, and performed "Million Reasons" on the semi-final of the 13th season of The X Factor. Two days later, she performed the track at the 2016 Royal Variety Performance, attended by Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as well as on Alan Carr's Happy Hour. Gaga was also a main headliner at the 2017 Coachella Festival. The setlist included "John Wayne", A-Yo", and "Million Reasons" from the album. Benjamin Lee from The Guardian praised her performance, although he noted that the tracks from Joanne were met with "a surprising disinterest" compared to her older hits.
See also: Dive Bar Tour and Joanne World Tour
Gaga announced the Dive Bar Tour, sponsored by Bud Light. The 3-date tour, which visited dive bars in the United States, had dates on October 5, 20 and 27. All performances were live streamed on Bud Light's Facebook page, as well as Gaga's. In a statement, Gaga said: "My first performances were in dive bars in New York City and around the country, so working with Bud Light to go back to my roots to perform songs from my new album Joanne is such an exciting way to connect with my fans and share this music with them for the first time", and added that the venues would accentuate the "raw Americana vibe" of her then-upcoming album. During the tour, Gaga premiered "A-Yo" and "Million Reasons", the latter being also released for streaming on Gaga's Vevo channel.
On February 5, 2017, Gaga announced that she would embark on the Joanne World Tour in support of the album. It will take place from August to December of 2017.
"Perfect Illusion" was released as the album's first single on September 9, 2016. It debuted at number one in France and Spain.
"Million Reasons" was the second single released to radio on November 8, 2016. The song has reached number 4 on the United States Billboard Hot 100, becoming her tenth top five entry and fourteenth top ten in the nation.
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars
The A.V. Club B
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars
The Guardian 3/5 stars
The Independent 3/5 stars
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars
Joanne received a weighted score of 67 out of 100 from review aggregate website Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on 27 reviews from music critics. British music journalist Neil McCormick gave the album a four-out-of-five-star rating, in his review published in The Daily Telegraph. He complimented the old-fashioned songs present on Joanne, saying: "With big songs and big production, Joanne certainly sounds like the business. Yet while its modernity is expressed by mixing and matching genres or adding digital zing to familiar tropes, for all its bravura exuberance and pop slickness it is old fashioned to its core." Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic gave it a three-and-a-half-out-of-five rating. He gave a positive review feeling that unlike Gaga's previous endeavors, where she appeared as a "high-wire act", Joanne was more "earth-bound" and is a "record made by an artist determined to execute only the stunts she knows how to pull off... Gaga's feet remain firmly planted in dance-pop even when she brings in a number of collaborators". The same rating was given by Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, who called the album an "old-school Nineties soft rock album, heavy on the acoustic guitar". Complimenting the understated production by Ronson and the other producers, Sheffield concluded by saying that "for all its hits and misses, Joanne is a welcome reminder of why the world needs [Gaga] around."
Writing for The A.V. Club, Annie Zaleski commended the "genre fluidity" of Joanne. Rating it B, Zaleski noted that songs like "Diamond Heart", "John Wayne", "Sinner's Prayer" and "Hey Girl" besides being the best tracks from the album, also highlighted Gaga's vocal prowess. In a three-out-of-five-star review for Slant Magazine, Sal Cinquemani criticized the album for its oversung ballads and lack of strong hooks, but deemed it more consistent and focused than Artpop. Maeve McDermott from USA Today complimented Gaga for "expanding her artistic vision and toying with different genres [on the album], while still recording the customary pop tracks listeners have come to expect". Andy Gill gave the album three out of five stars in a review for The Independent. Gill said that the album's rock leanings largely work, praising Homme's work on "A-Yo" and "John Wayne" as highlights, though he called "Perfect Illusion" dull.
The Guardian's Caroline Sullivan considered Joanne to be a "brave move" for Gaga and admired it. In her three-out-of-five-star review in the newspaper, Sullivan explained that "Gaga's huge voice adds a self-protective veneer, as does the presence of the other musicians, but at least she's done the groundwork for future albums that might show her with true transparency." Digital Spy's Lewis Corner wrote, "Joanne is clearly Gaga's most personal album, popping aside the synthetic personas for something more honest and, well, human. Mother Monster may be retired for now, but Lady Gaga's sheer musical brilliance still shines through." For Evan Sawdey of PopMatters, the album—with its "flaws and all"—was a correct musical step for Gaga, which he believed would make "fans and observers once again rethink what they know about the daring diva". Similarly, Amanda Petrusich of Pitchfork remarked how Gaga explores an alternative path diverging away from "visual provocations" that permeated most of her career, and that the album feels "tentative, an affront to the Gaga of yesteryear."
Mikael Wood from the Los Angeles Times felt that most songs on the album "lacked strong stories" and were "mere stylistic exercises" on Gaga's part. Rich Juzwiak, who reviewed Joanne for Spin did not find the musical evolution that Gaga presented on the album as authentic. He added: "It's understandable that Joanne finds Gaga performing authenticity... The image here—the illusion, really—is as imperfect as it is meticulously rendered." Rating the album two-out-of-four stars, journalist Greg Kot wrote in his review for Chicago Times that "[Gaga] sounds like she's just trying too hard" with Joanne. Kot also criticized the social commentary lyrics on songs like "Come to Mama" and "Angel Down". Jon Caramancia from The New York Times noted that the album's elemental sound did not come as a surprise. "Lady Gaga was always simply too focused a singer to be strictly defined by her presentation," he wrote. "[Joanne] isn't daring or radical — it's logical, a rejoinder to her past and also to the candy-striped pop that surrounds her." He described the album as confused and incoherent, adding that the collaborators, with the exception of songwriter Hillary Lindsey, lack their respective charms.
Publication List Year Rank Ref.
Billboard 50 Best Albums of 2016 2016
Digital Spy 20 Best Albums of 2016 2016
NME NME's Albums of the Year 2016 2016
Rolling Stone 20 Best Pop Albums of 2016 2016
In the United States, Joanne debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 170,000 copies in its first week, and 201,000 total album-equivalent units according to Nielsen SoundScan. It became Gaga's fourth album to top the chart following Born This Way (2011), Artpop (2013), and Cheek to Cheek (2014). The album also was 2016's second highest debut for a female album in the nation after Beyoncé's Lemonade opened with 485,000 copies. As a result, Gaga became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s. The album-equivalent units for Joanne consisted of 135,000 song sales and 26 million streams along with the traditional 170,000 album sales. The debut of Joanne prompted Gaga to rise to number 1 on the Billboard Artist 100 chart, which measures artist activity across the publication's most influential charts. The album sales dropped by 70% to 61,000 units in the second week, consequently it fell to number 5 on the Billboard 200. By April 2017, the album had scanned 515,000 in sales. Following Gaga's Super Bowl LI halftime show performance, Joanne arose 66–2 on the Billboard 200, selling 48,000 copies and 74,000 total album-equivalent units (up by 818%). Joanne debuted at number 2 on the Canadian Albums Chart with 17,500 album-equivalent units, behind Leonard Cohen's You Want It Darker. According to the Canadian SoundScan, the album had the third highest on-demand streams in the country. On November 4, 2016, the album was certified gold by Music Canada for shipments of 40,000 copies in the country. Like the United States, the Super Bowl performance also had an impact in Canada, where Joanne vaulted from 54–2, making a total of 524% gain in album-equivalent units.
In the United Kingdom, Joanne debuted at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart, with first week sales of 26,694 copies, behind Elvis Presley's posthumous release, The Wonder of You, and Michael Bublé's Nobody but Me. On the UK Album Downloads Chart, Joanne entered the chart at number 1. It also reached number 2 on the Official Albums Streaming Chart, and number 5 on the Official Physical Albums Chart. The following week, it exited the top-ten, dropping to number 14, with sales of 9,602 units. As of February 2017, the album has sold 90,624 copies in the nation, and has been certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipping 100,000 units. Following the Super Bowl performance the record moved from 88–11 on the chart with sales increasing to 5,289 copies. Joanne debuted at number 3 on the Irish Albums Chart. The album had a less than expected debut in France, where it entered the album chart at number 9, with sales of just over 8,000 copies. Pure Charts website theorized that the moderate performance of the lead single, "Perfect Illusion", and the absence of Gaga in the media during album release week, contributed to the low debut. By the year end, they deemed Joanne as one of the commercially disappointing albums in France, achieving total sales of 12,000 copies.
Joanne debuted at number 2 on both the Australian Albums Chart and New Zealand Albums Chart. The Australian Recording Industry Association said that Joanne was Gaga's second consecutive solo album to debut at number 2 on the chart following Artpop. In Japan, Joanne debuted at number 10 on the Oricon Albums Chart with first week sales of 8,026 copies.
No. Title Writer(s) Producers Length
1. "Diamond Heart"
Stefani Germanotta Mark Ronson Josh Homme
Ronson Gaga BloodPop Homme[a] Jeff Bhasker[a]
Germanotta Hillary Lindsey Ronson M. Tucker
Ronson BloodPop Gaga
Ronson Gaga BloodPop
4. "John Wayne"
Germanotta Ronson Tucker Homme
Ronson BloodPop Gaga
5. "Dancin' in Circles"
Germanotta Beck Hansen Tucker Ronson
Ronson Gaga BloodPop
6. "Perfect Illusion"
Kevin Parker Germanotta Ronson Tucker
Ronson Parker Gaga BloodPop
7. "Million Reasons"
Germanotta Lindsey Ronson
Ronson Gaga BloodPop
8. "Sinner's Prayer"
Germanotta Josh Tillman Ronson Thomas Brenneck
Ronson Gaga BloodPop
9. "Come to Mama"
Tillman Germanotta Emile Haynie
Ronson Haynie Gaga BloodPop
10. "Hey Girl" (featuring Florence Welch)
Germanotta Welch Ronson
Ronson Gaga BloodPop
11. "Angel Down"
Germanotta Nadir Khayat
Ronson Gaga BloodPop
Total length: 39:05 ... (more) (less)
Release date: 21 October 2016
Number of discs: 1
EAN: 0602557186444 UPC: 602557186444
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Themes heist, drugs, kidnapping, coming of age
Genre drama, parody, sci-fi, comedy
Locations paris, submarine, new york
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