Mama Monster had another artistic rebirth on Friday, and it came the way of Joanne. Yes, Lady Gaga released Joanne , the highly anticipated follow-up to the entirely underwhelming Artpop, and, thus far, it’s serving up sizable passion. As the album was penned during her break-up with fiancé Taylor Kinney, you can really hear the heartbreak weaved into those lyrics.
Sometimes her Kinney commentary shines loudly. “Diamond Heart” transparently references the engagement ring Kinney first gave her. And while nothing is truly substantiated about this, “Perfect Illusion” seems to be all post-break-up Gaga, reveling in the failure of her romance but somehow becoming stronger for it. Those are the obvious and hard-to-dispute odes to the model/actor/heartbreaker. But, since Gaga was involved with Kinney the past five years, leaving him as a sole source of inspiration for more recent works of love, it’s easy to believe that it stops there. Elsewhere on the album, there might be more imperfect allusions (ugh, I’m sorry, I haven’t had my coffee yet).
While we’re all repeatedly spinning the album off our streaming services (does that turn of phrase work in this generation?), let’s speculate. Here are 11 lyrics that just may be about Gaga’s relationship with Kinney.
1. "Some Asshole Broke Me In/Wrecked All My Innocence/I’ll Just Keep Go-Go’n/And This Dance Is On You"
Kinney isn't the first man in Gaga's life, or even the first Gaga suitor involved in the midst of fame. Who can forget her short-lived engagement to Lüc Carl, or at least the ode to him in "Yoü And I"? Perhaps this is a shout-out to Carl, or some other prior boyfriend, or maybe Kinney is the asshole. No matter what, I'm pretty sure the dance is for Kinney.
2. "C’mon Baby, Do You Have A Girlfriend"
Kinney did very much have a girlfriend when he and Gaga met on the set of the aforementioned "Yoü And I." And there was no shortage of drama surrounding that incident.
3. "I’m Not Flawless, But I Got A Diamond Heart"
It's worth wondering how much of this song was written before the break up, because this pairing suggests that, even though Gaga isn't perfect, it's OK because she has Kinney's heart-shaped diamond engagement ring. Sad.
4. "Two Lovers, Headed For Dead End/Too Fast/Hold Tight/He Laughs/Runnin' Through The Red Lights"
"John Wayne" as a whole could be a vague description of Gaga's type (she's all about the danger of romance) but "two lovers headed for a dead end" seems... well, an apt description of any failed relationship.
5. "Caught Up In Your Show/Yeah, At Least Now I Know"
Even though Gaga was enthralled in the throws of love, and it sucked to be deceived, she's ultimately relieved to be freed by the truth.
6. "It Wasn't Love, It Wasn't Love/It Was A Perfect Illusion"
Do I need to really explain the subtext on this one?
7. "Where Were You?/'Cause I Can’t See You"
I don't think this is necessarily shade so much as it's Gaga saying she can no longer connect with her ex-fiancé.
8. "But I Feel You Watchin' Me/Dilated, Falling Free"
This, however, might be shade. It would suggest that Gaga feels Kinney will be watching all her next moves since she is, of course, a high-profile pop sensation and actress. The "dilated" line is also an interesting touch, since eyes dilate when you see someone you're enamored with.
9. "You're Giving Me A Million Reasons To Let You Go/You're Giving Me A Million Reasons To Quit The Show"
Oof, this pretty loudly suggests that things with Kinney weren't great for a long, long while.
10. "I've Got A Hundred Million Reasons To Walk Away/But Baby, I Just Need One Good One To Stay"
Awwww, babe. This one hurts a bit more, because here Gaga knows that she should leave the relationship, but it would probably be enough if she knew she was loved.
11. "Hear My Sinner's Prayer/ I Am What I Am/And I Don't Wanna Break The Heart Of Any Other Man /But You, But You"
I'm not sure if Kinney and Gaga's break-up was related to her eccentricity, her extravagance. I'm pretty sure he knew what he was getting himself into. However, these lyrics would definitely state that she's knows how crazy she is, she accepts how crazy she is, and she still only wants him if she can have him.
Whether any of these lyrics really are about Kinney, there are a lot of meanings buried in them. Interpret the subtext however you want, but Joanne is unquestionably one of Gaga's most personal albums to date