Lady Gaga rose to fame with her shock-inducing outfits and remains the seventh most followed person on Twitter, but on her sober new album, she admits an unease in the era of social media.
“Joanne,” the now 30-year-old singer’s first solo album in three years, marks a shift from the glam synthpop that made Gaga a club sensation to another retro sound — unadorned soft rock, with forays into country.
The singer who once said that she lived for the applause takes up weighty issues including Black Lives Matter, the movement triggered by a series of killings of African Americans.
Gaga said she wrote “Angel Down,” a grim ballad with a siren-like guitar backdrop, after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida as he walked home with iced tea and candy.
“I confess that I am lost in the age of the social,” Gaga sings. “Angel down, angel down / But the people just stood around.”
Gaga, in an interview for the album’s release Friday, said she felt compelled to speak out in turbulent times after talking to black fans who are “terrified when they hear sirens.”
“How could I possibly make an album about twerking my ass in a club?” she told Apple Music’s Beats One radio.
“It feels empty, it feels irrelevant. When I go into the studio at this point in my career, I can’t possibly just sit and think, oh, what would be just fun?”