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Ranking LGBTQ+ albums: Lady Gaga

By Dylan Mann-Hazell

Sound the alarms and put your paws up - Lady Gaga is coming back! New Instagram posts by the singer-songwriter show her preparing to roll out the release of her upcoming seventh studio album. In honor of this exciting occasion, we've ranked her discography to date.

16 years ago, Lady Gaga rocked onto our radios with her addictive single Just Danceand the dancing never stopped. The past 16 years have seen the bisexual pop star release 6 solo studio albums, star in a number of high-profile films and television dramas, and become the face of LGBTQ+ pop music for a whole generation.

Collaborative records like Tony Bennett’s Cheek to Cheek and the soundtrack to A Star is Born have been excluded, as well as remix albums. This ranking is all about pure, unadulterated Gaga.

(Banner image credit: Raph_PH)


6. The Fame (2008)

It is a testament to Lady Gaga’s ever-growing talent as a writer and musician that a record with so many incredible hits is ranked in last place. It also shows that she is yet to release a bad album. Just Dance, Poker Face, Paparazzi and LoveGame will be played for decades to come as the anthems of pop perfection they are – it's the album tracks that don’t quite match the timeless quality of most of Gaga’s discography.

Don’t get us wrong – these tracks were at the top of their game in 2008, and a good few still make for fun nostalgic throwback tunes. But many of them feature sounds and references that are perhaps best left to the 00s for now. In any case, as debut albums go, this is still an incredibly experimental and captivating record, giving us a first glimpse into the art Gaga is capable of. 


5. Joanne (2016)

2016 saw the release of Gaga’s stripped-down country-pop record, Joanne. Nobody expected this change of direction from such an extravagant, synth-inspired artist, but it was nevertheless well received. The singles Perfect Illusion and (particularly) Million Reasons became huge hits for the pop star, from an album dedicated to her late aunt.

Many fans were initially resistant to this genre change, with some calling it boring or slow – but the years have been kind to this record so far. It doesn’t quite reach the same heights as other entries in her discography, but there is still a fantastic range of sounds to enjoy. Particular highlights include the Florence Welch feature on the Bennie and the Jets-esque track Hey Girl, and the heartbreaking title track. 


4. Chromatica (2020)

Just shy of making the top 3 is Stefani Germanotta’s most recent release at the time of writing: Chromatica. After a few years of jazz collaborations, country-pop experiments and movie soundtracks, fans were itching to get their hands on a pure dance record from the queen of pop – and she delivered just that.

Despite being released in the middle of the 2020 lockdown, where clubs were shut and parties were impossible, this fabulous ode to dance music was received with immense popularity. The singles Stupid Love and Rain On Me (ft. Ariana Grande) became some of Gaga’s biggest hits to date, and the other features on the album (K-pop band BLACKPINK and rock legend Elton John) created a huge buzz among LGBTQ+ fans. 


3. ARTPOP (2013)

Over a decade on from its release, this misunderstood masterpiece seems to finally be getting the recognition it deserves. Perhaps Gaga’s most experimental album to date, ARTPOP features a range of genres from gritty EDM to emotional power ballad, from disco-funk to pure pop-rock. It’s understandable why this somewhat chaotic record may not have resonated with casual listeners, but those well-versed in the singer’s abstract eccentricity knew exactly what she was capable of.

Despite the complete record garnering a more niche audience, the lead single Applause was a huge success. The following singles G.U.Y and Do What U Want were less commercially prosperous but are still widely recognized as some of Gaga’s most exploratory and captivating tracks. To this day, ARTPOP remains the marmite album of Lady Gaga’s discography. 


2. The Fame Monster (2009)

It’s remarkable that within just one year of the release of her very 2008 debut, the follow-up EP contains tracks that seem to defy the passage of time. The singles Bad Romance and Alejandro are both innovative and influential masterpieces, showing the true extent of Gaga’s talents in songwriting and vocal performance. Other songs, including Telephone (ft. Beyoncé) and Dance in the Dark have a firm place in the gay club playlists to this day.

The complete work does not contain a misfire, with all eight tracks showcasing the true range of Lady Gaga’s artistry. Cut to a decade from now, a century even, and the impact of this era of her discography on subsequent pop records will still be as noticeable and as evident as it is now. 


1. Born This Way (2011)

Okay, we may be a bit biased – but what else could it be? Following on from the pop perfection that was The Fame Monster was not an easy feat. The public response to the difficult second album would either be one of disappointment from millions of expectant new fans, or it would propel Lady Gaga into immortal stardom. Not only did she manage to surpass expectations – it's not an understatement to say that this record changed the world.

The entire album, especially the lead single, is an ode to the LGBTQ+ community. At a time when LGBTQ+ people were still facing immense discrimination and it seemed the only major celebrities looking out for them were being discreet so as not to alienate their more conservative fans, the release of Born This Way was absolutely transformational. To have the radio blasting out “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life, I'm on the right track baby, I was born to survive” - nothing like it had happened before. This unabashed, confident representation saved lives.

Judas, Marry the Night and The Edge of Glory continued Gaga’s lyrical genius and further cemented her place in music history. The album is still in the charts 13 years later, with gritty album track Bloody Mary recently trending too. Not many artists can release an album full of genre-bending anthems that help alter the public perception of an entire communitymaybe that’s why we call her Mother Monster.

Read related articles here:

Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation Album Review: “A Triumphant Return to Pure, Unadulterated Pop”

I Used To Be Sam Shares Her Transracial Adoption Story in Five Tracks

ARTPOP: Why Fans Still Won't Give Up on the 2013 Album

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