There’s a real serendipity to the release of ‘A-Yo’. Just over a week ago, chart-topping NYC EDM bros The Chainsmokers said ‘Perfect Illusion’ – Lady Gaga’s first solo release in three years – “sucks”. Eight days later, Gaga has put out her chainsmoking, middle-fingers-aloft country hoedown, proving there’s far more to upcoming fifth album than we expected on the release of ‘Perfect Illusion’, her (actually very good) collaboration with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker.
On ‘A-Yo’ it’s a load of other musicians bringing the hoedown. Gaga plays drums with Este Haim, Mark Ronson’s on bass, and Josh Homme’s doing a brilliantly twangy guitar solo. Grimes’ mate BloodPop is on organ, and The Roots’ Ian Hendrickson-Smith is on sax. Then of course there’s the vocal, which sees Gaga trading her Manhattan accent for a proper country drawl, with a side of southern grits. Crucially, it works.
The transformation might grate on fans of Gaga’s past few albums of pop, but from these lyrics it looks like on fifth album ‘Joanne’ she really doesn’t care what people think, if she ever did. This country thing is happening. On Twitter, Gaga has explained that the tar-stained chorus – “A-YO, A-YO we smokin’ ‘em all” is about celebrating while “leaving our haters in the dust”. Anyone got a lighter?