Categories
Returns shill

30 Rock returns (sort of) to shill NBC Universal and demolish any remaining fourth wall – The A.V. Club

Illustration for article titled i3src Rock/i returns (sort of) to shill NBC Universal and demolish any remaining fourth wall

Graphic: NBC

TV ReviewsAll of our TV reviews in one convenient place.

The most important thing to know going into NBC’s “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” is that it is, first and foremost, a means to a promotional end. Yes, it’s an outside-the-box approach to the network’s annual upfront presentation in this climate, but it’s still the network’s annual upfront presentation. With that in mind, “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” absolutely excels at what it is and does. It is a perfect commercial for NBC Universal, a perfect commercial for television, and a perfect commercial for people who believe they are too cool to watch commercials but not too cool to watch television reunion specials.

If you want to get pedantic about it, in some ways, “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” is even more “real” television than other “real” television shows, because it’s completely upfront (no pun intended) about its function as a gateway to advertising—even before Kenneth Ellen Parcell’s soul literally leaves his body. While the actual advertisement for this special wasn’t as upfront, the original announcement about the special was, and as is the special itself, from start to finish.

The circumstances that have led to NBC thinking outside-the-box and spending money on a 30 Rock reunion—which must have cost considerably less than the Friends reunion they’re not doing—certainly aren’t great. But in a way, they’re also just perfect for 30 Rock and everything the show chronicled in its version of NBC, which just so happened to perfectly paint a picture of real-life NBC, then, now, and forever. A blatant hour-long commercial for television is technically the natural progression for the story 30 Rock told, which allows the special to somehow reach an even higher level of meta inception than it already had. After all, it would take the desperation of a pandemic for 30 Rock’s version of NBC to actually call for TGS to return.

From the show that gave you NBC attempting to make it 1997 again (or in this case, 2006 again) “through science or magic” and the network that gave you former Chairman Bob Greenblatt constantly asking creators of former NBC hits (and low-rated, critical darlings) to just keep making those shows comes “30 Rock: A One-Time Special.” (Greenblatt is now the Chairman of HBO Max, the streaming service that got Friends and the Friends reunion, by the way.) As jaded as one can be both as a 30 Rock fan and a person living in 2020, there is a comfort in seeing those opening credits and hearing the show’s score again, in addition to the obvious joy of the cast getting back into their characters. Even if it’s just for the smallest of bits. As an episode of television and not just an hour-long commercial, “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” does function as a solid addition to the 30 Rock canon. With other social distancing-based episodes and Zoom reunion specials (and everything in between) popping up during this time, guiding everyone involved regarding what to do and what not to do, this special is able to show people what’s possible in storytelling right now. And in advertising, of course.

30 Rock always winked at and mocked the fourth wall, but this special takes that fourth wall and obliterates it, to the point where even attempting to literally wink at it causes blowback. “Can we have our money now?” isn’t uttered, but with the way the cast rattles off the catalog of Peacock or journalists working in NBC Universal’s news departments or the point of upfronts, it doesn’t need to be. The same goes for going from a few real-life NBC cameos over the course of seven seasons to having a Zoom game call with NBC Universal personalities ranging from Andy Samberg to The Miz to Al Roker to Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen. These aren’t just cameos from people who think 30 Rock is cool: The Rock and everyone else is just as much here to sell NBC Universal to advertisers as Liz Lemon and the gang are.

Plotwise, “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” focuses on telling a post-series finale story about friendship and television, especially NBC Universal-based friendship and television. As the series ended with Kenneth Parcell becoming NBC President, we see now that seven years later, he’s has risen to the top of the television world and is NBC Universal Chairman… while the rest of the TGS crew is pretty much broken and separated, as that is a classic reunion story trope and also necessary during a pandemic. (Pete and Lutz are doing well, though they’re both upsetting to look at in different ways.) Liz Lemon is struggling as a a full-time mom who is married to a beautiful man,* Jack Donaghy is struggling with retirement after making the clear dishwasher, Tracy Jordan is in Canada, and Jenna Maroney has, of course, been “canceled” because she “pooped in Mandy Moore’s thermos.” Jenna’s also spiraling over not being the center of anyone’s attention, which is perhaps the truest aspect of this whole special.

* An unseen James Marsden does get credited for recording a single sentence.

Because it’s going for the standard reunion show premise, the whole point of the actual plot is to get the band back together. It’s unsurprising that the TGS crew would all ignore Kenneth’s Zoom calls, just like it makes sense that everyone else would be yes-men to someone in Kenneth’s position of power (especially as he was succeeding at his job). And with those points combined, you’ve got conflict in between commercials.

Arguably, the most impressive thing about the special is how relatively seamless the social distancing component is. It acknowledges up top that 30 Rock still exists within the world we all live; so it is during these quarantimes, but that’s not the focus. Video calls being the current default for group and work meetings mean it’s not a stretch to have those for the fake TGS reboot meeting and the ad sales presentation at the end. Phone calls, in general, simply make sense for humans.

Perhaps one day, a “real” 30 Rock reunion can exist, with the cast all being on the same sets as each other. But today is not that day, and given the context for that, it works. Saturday Night Live director Oz Rodriguez directed this episode, a hiring choice that most likely stemmed from his experience working on this season’s SNL At Home episodes early on in these quarantimes. In the case of SNL At Home, the production quality clearly increased with each episode, and as the new normal of the social distancing era continues on, it continues to quickly evolve. That evolution is still very much on display for this special, despite the main reason for its existence.

Now, is “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” the best episode of 30 Rock? Well, it is and it isn’t. It isn’t, because it’s not even technically an episode of 30 Rock. Plus, episodes like “MILF Island” and “Queen of Jordan” still exist. At the same time, it kind of is, because it takes the culture of television and NBC that 30 Rock depicted and makes it even more of a reality than it already was and still is. The fact that the story in between the ads actually works as a passable episode of 30 Rock only helps the special to do the job it’s really supposed to be doing: selling NBC Universal to advertisers (and viewers, as a distant second).


Stray observations

  • Long story short: Take the Verizon product placement bit from Season Two’s “Somebody to Love,” make it the whole episode, go full NBC and supersize that episode, and that’s what “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” is.
  • After all the fuss that local affiliates—luckily, not mine in Los Angeles—apparently made about this special promoting Peacock too much, it honestly ends up being essentially a small amount of Peacock promotion, especially compared to the rest of NBC Universal’s products. It’s really more like a quick bite of Peacock, if you will. So even when it’s technically not NBC doing something dumb, it still comes across as NBC Peacocking things up for no reason.
  • That every member of the TGS family would actually quarantine and practice social distancing is a stretch, but come on: If you’re already bummed out that this is just a commercial for television, imagine how you would feel if Tina Fey and Robert Carlock accurately depicted just how dangerous these dummies would be in real life.
  • Honestly, seeing so many NBC Universal commercials—to the point where, by the time the 30 Rock bit introduces the Law & Order: SVU 2: Just The Paperwork, it took me a beat to realize wasn’t one of the real commercials—still trumps seeing the commercials from all the advertisers NBC Universal is courting with this special.
  • I hope that someone is able to screencap them all, but here are some highlights from the magazine montage of Kenneth’s meteoric rise: Vanity Fair (“Exclusive: JENNA MARONEY GIVES BACK ORPHAN,” “Oh, Baby! CATE BLANCHETT’S TALLEST ROLES”), Exposition Weekly (“‘FRIENDS’ NOW STREAMING ON FACETIME,” “CINEMAXMAX NOW STREAMING ON COMMODORE64,” “WATCH TV, a new streaming platform for your watch and Fitbit”), TV Profiles Daily (“CELEBRITY BOOK LISTS that’ll have you saying there’s no way Julie Bowen read that”), Daily Voracity (“MANDY MOORE’S THERMOS TELLS ALL: ‘Therapy was the only way forward.’”). There’s also a headline about Kenneth’s corn diet… right before the montage ends with Kenneth eating out of a can of corn.
  • 30 Rock never shied away from racial jokes—until now—so it makes the obvious one immediately, with Toofer not wanting to be called “Toofer” anymore. It works, considering the climate, but it also worked originally because of how terrible it was and what it said about the kind of work environment that would allow and encourage it in the first place.
  • Fun fact: There are now torrents that are just of the “banned” episodes of 30 Rock. I’ll chime in to say I’m actually opposed to the removal of those episodes.
  • Tracy: “You know what my secret to race-walking is, Liz Lemon? I just run as fast as I can.”
  • Pete: “Wow! I can get all those Frasiers?”

    Frank: “Will the films contain all their original nudity?”

    Jenna: “I’ll play a sexy serial killer on any of those. Including the news and European soccer.”

    Kenneth: “Yes, yes, and no thank you.”
  • The Vivica part of this—and yes, that is Jack McBrayer in drag—is perhaps the one aspect of all of this that doesn’t quite land. It would probably work much better—though there’s still a chance it wouldn’t work at all—in the actual show as a recurring presence, just not in this Very Special Commercial.
  • Todd Chrisley (of USA Network’s Chrisley Knows Best) being Kenneth’s cousin makes more sense than anything about Todd Chrisley (and Chrisley Knows Best) ever has. And in terms of synergy, what timing for Kenneth to bring up his hair twin, Ellen.
  • As the point of all of this is to make money, there is a bit where Liz almost sings “Night Cheese” again, only to get cut off and note how it would’ve been expensive. For reference, it was $50,000 last time, for reference.
  • Mandy Moore forgives me / Mandy Moore forgives you” The fact that Jenna’s plot ends with her singing an original song about NBC Universal with both Mandy Moore and Gwen Stefani means that I can finally ascend. As does the fact that The Miz has now techn
  • Read More

Categories
Returns Trump

Trump returns to polarizing themes in Fourth of July address – POLITICO

“We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms,” the president said, assailing protesters as “anarchist agitators” who “have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”

The Saturday speech, delivered on July 4 amid the backdrop of a pandemic, record-high unemployment and nationwide protests, marked a sea change from Trump’s Independence Day address in 2019, which largely stuck to patriotic and not political themes.

And as the president faces questions over his agenda for a potential second term, Trump hinted that his priorities will remain largely the same: low taxes, a strong military, religious freedom and law and order.

“We should all want the same thing,” Trump said.

Trump also defended his administration’s pandemic response, pinning the blame for the virus on China.

“We have the most and finest testing anywhere in the world, and we are producing gowns and masks and surgical equipment in our country, where heretofore it was almost exclusively made in foreign lands, in particular China, ironically this virus and others came from,” Trump said, blaming Chinese “deception” for allowing the virus to spread.

Trump devoted a portion of his address to rail at the media, which he claimed without evidence “falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists.”

“When you level these false charges, you not only slander me, you not only slander the American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America,” Trump said.

The event in Washington, D.C., featured flyovers by military aircraft and will be capped off by fireworks on the National Mall. Crowds on the Mall were light Saturday as officials urged social distancing, TV station WTOP reported.

Read More

Categories
disclaimer Returns

Gone With the Wind returns to HBO Max with disclaimer that film ‘denies the horrors of slavery’ – The Guardian

Gone With The Wind has returned to the US streaming service HBO Max accompanied by a disclaimer saying the classic film “denies the horrors of slavery”.

The 1939 civil war epic was removed from the service – Warner Bros’s recently launched rival to Netflix and Disney+ – following criticism of its “racist depictions” earlier this month.

John Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years A Slave, argued for it to be temporarily taken down due to its portrayal of the pre-war South, describing it in an article in the LA Times as “a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color”.

HBO responded with a statement, which said: “These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.”

The film has now returned to HBO Max, accompanied by two videos discussing its historical context.

One clip features TV host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart, who acknowledges Gone With the Wind as “one of most enduringly popular films of all time” but notes its depiction of African American people was controversial even at release.

“Producer David O Selznick was well aware that black audiences were deeply concerned about the film’s handling of the topic of slavery and its treatment of black characters,” she said.

Despite producer Selznick assuring African American viewers that the film would sensitively handle their concerns, Stewart said Gone With The Wind instead presents “the Antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based”.

She added: “The film’s treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.”

The second video is an hour-long panel discussion debating Gone With the Wind‘s “complicated legacy”.

Gone With the Wind told the love story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivienne Leigh), the daughter of a plantation owner, and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). It was a commercial success, and won eight Oscars and two honorary awards. However, African American writers and activists immediately objected to its depiction of passive, compliant slaves, and the sentimentality with which it depicted the pre-civil war US south.

Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, a house servant, became the first African American to win an Oscar when she took home the best supporting actress Academy Award. However, she was not allowed to sit with the other cast members at the ceremony dinner at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, which enforced racial segregation until 1959.

Read More

Categories
Batman Returns

Batman Returns! Michael Keaton to Play Bruce Wayne in ‘The Flash’ – TheWrap

Batman Michael Keaton The Flash Movie

Michael Keaton is set to return to the role of Batman opposite Ezra Miller in DC’s upcoming standalone The Flash movie

After nearly 30 years, Michael Keaton is in talks to return to the role of Batman, to appear alongside Ezra Miller in Warner Bros.’ upcoming movie “The Flash,” TheWrap has learned exclusively. Talks with Keaton are in the very early stages, it is far from a sure thing, and can go either way. No details are currently available about how big or small Keaton’s role is.

That plot will introduce general audiences to the idea of the multiverse, one of the of core concepts underpinning DC Comics. For the non fanboy set, the multiverse refers to a shifting number of alternate universes that coexist within the larger reality depicted in DC comics. Originally created to explain various contradictory changes the company’s characters experienced over decades, it allows several different versions of the same characters to simultaneously exist and, occasionally, interact. Matt Reeves upcoming “The Batman” will not be affected and Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is still viewed as the future of the franchise.

One notable component is the idea that in every single universe, Earth is always home to a larger than normal number of superpowered heroes and villains whose actions often have galaxy-spanning consequences.

Also Read: What Michael Keaton’s Return As Batman Could Mean for the DCEU and the Snyder Cut

DC has been planting the seeds of the multiverse for the last several years. It was introduced in The CW’s “Arrowverse” franchise, with “Supergirl” and “Black Lightning” expressly established as being in separate universes from “Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” But most recently, during The CW’s crossover event “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” movies such as “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” were confirmed as part of the Arrowverse multiverse when the Barry Allen played by Grant Gustin on The CW encountered Miller’s Barry Allen.

And while it’s still not known how the multiverse concept will play out in other future DC Comics movies, it certainly expands the available options for Warner Bros as it develops them. Just in case it wants to find a way to pit Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker against, say, the current version of Aquaman.

We discuss the potential greater ramifications of Keaton’s return in more depth here.

Keaton first played Batman/Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster of the same name, a critical and financial success that changed how superhero films were viewed — and paved the way for the genre’s future box office domination. Keaton’s casting was initially controversial among fans, as he was primarily known for broad comedies. But his performance, particularly how he used his comedic background in his portrayal of Bruce Wayne to differentiate it from Batman, was widely praised and is now recognized as an seminal moment in comic book films.

Keaton last played Batman in 1992’s “Batman Returns,” but quit the role during development of a third film after Burton was pushed out as director and replaced with Joel Schumacher, who took the series in a campier direction with 1995’s “Batman Forever” and its much-reviled 1997 follow up “Batman & Robin.”

But “The Flash” will disregard the latter two entries entirely, and explore what Keaton’s version of Batman has been up since we last saw him. Loosely based on the 2011 DC Comics crossover event “Flashpoint” — previously announced as the film’s title at Comic-Con 2017 — the story sees Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen travel back in time to prevent the death of his mother. The result? Allen inadvertently creates another universe protected by Michael Keaton’s Batman, now 30 years older.

“It: Chapter Two” director Andrés Muschietti is set to direct “The Flash” movie from the latest draft of the script from “Birds of Prey” writer Christina Hodson. Barbara Muschietti and Michael Disco are producing.

“The Flash” is eyeing a Q1 2021 production start, subject to covid-19 protocols.

Keaton is repped by ICM Partners and Ziffren.

Every DC Comics Movie Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘Birds of Prey’ and ‘Joker’

How does the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe fare in our rankings?

Marvel may be the dominant force in comic book movies at the moment just through sheer numbers, it’s actually DC Comics that has the historical edge. Films based on DC properties go back nearly a century to those ancient Batman and Superman serials, while Marvel didn’t really get things going until this century. That’s a lot of history — how do the recent “Birds of Prey” and “Joker” stack up? Let’s take a look.

Read More

Categories
Hour-Long Returns

’30 Rock’ Returns to NBC With New Hour-Long Episode That Will Double as an Upfront Special – Variety

NBC is making it 2006 again, through science or magic: “30 Rock” is returning to the Peacock next month for a new, original remotely-produced event that will also double as an upfront special for the NBCUniversal properties.

The special, which will air Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m. on NBC, will feature the return of cast members Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer and others, reprising their “30 Rock” roles for what NBC is describing as “a first-of-its-kind all-audience upfront event.”

The return of “30 Rock” comes as NBC also recently aired a new episode of “Parks and Recreation,” featuring the show’s stars reprising their roles in an all-new story. In this case, the “30 Rock” special will also be filmed remotely — but the story will additionally serve as a promo for NBCUniversal programming.

The hour-long, commercial-free event will first premiere on NBC and then will be rebroadcast across USA, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, SYFY, and CNBC as well as available to stream on NBCU’s new service Peacock on Friday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. That’s two days after Peacock’s July 15 nationwide launch. (“30 Rock” is available to stream on Peacock.)

The “upfront event” will feature “30 Rock” characters including Liz Lemon (Fey), Jack Donaghy (Baldwin), Tracy Jordan (Morgan), Jenna Maroney (Krakowski), Kenneth Parcell (McBrayer), and more touting “the stories and talent featured in NBCUniversal’s 2020-21 television season,” the network said.

“We’re all happy to have this excuse to (remotely) work together again for NBC,” said “30 Rock” executive producers Fey and Robert Carlock said in a joint statement. “To quote Kenneth the Page, there are only two things we love in this world, television and everyone.”

Broadway Video and Little Stranger, Inc. in association with Universal Television and NBCUniversal Creative Partnerships, are behind the special, which is being driven by NBCU’s advertising division. Oz Rodriguez (“Saturday Night Live”) will direct the special.

“At NBCUniversal, we’re excited to produce an upfront that reflects a new reality and celebrates our relationship with viewers and advertisers alike,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising and partnerships, NBCUniversal. “Historically, this event is about the future of programming; this year, it’s about the future of our industry — a future where we can meet audiences wherever they are, with the stories that move them.”

Yaccarino’s quote also included a line that presumably wasn’t written by Fey and Carlock: “As the old saying goes… when life hands you Lemon, have her host the Upfront!”

The “30 Rock” Upfront special will feature guest appearances from talent from across NBCUniversal, highlighting new and returning programming from NBC, Telemundo, USA Network, SYFY, E!, Bravo, and more. It sounds a bit like the fall preview specials that the networks produced for years, often featuring performers in their network series character, touting new TV shows.

“We put our fans first in everything we do at NBCUniversal, so of course our audiences are at the heart of our reimagined Upfront experience,” said Josh Feldman, executive VP, head of marketing and advertising creative, NBCUniversal.

“30 Rock” aired on NBC from October 2006 to January 2013, scoring 16 Emmys, including three consecutive wins for comedy series. The show also landed seven Golden Globes, 22 guild awards among SAG, WGA, DGA and PGA; as well as Image, Peabody and AFI Awards. The series is also the record-holder for most Emmy nominations in one season for any comedy series, and received a total of 103 Emmy nominations over seven seasons on NBC.

Read More

Categories
Dance' Returns

Lady Gaga Returns to the Dance Floor on ‘Chromatica’ – Rolling Stone

If anyone was going to send a love letter to disco and house music at a time when going to the club feels about as alien as wearing a dress made of cleaved meat, it’d be Lady Gaga. Although she initially had reservations about putting out Chromatica at the start of pandemic shutdowns, there’s something comforting about the way the album captures the feeling of banging your feet on a sweaty dance floor and bumping into strangers during the loneliest, most isolated moment in history. It might not have been her intention when she recorded the album, which signals a return to her electro-pop roots, but between her hopeful choruses and floorboard-thumping beats, she has captured the longing for togetherness that people are now feeling while wearing headphones, squinting into their webcams, and dancing alone in their basements.

In the decade or so since Gaga introduced herself with “Just Dance,” she’s drifted from big-haired pop ingenue to jazz chanteuse to lite-rock balladeer to Hollywood belter, but with few exceptions, she’s best when she drops the guises and gets personal. On Chromatica, her sixth album, she shows off all the sides of herself that made people fall in love with her in the first place: She’s a romantic, a ham, a truth teller, a gossip, a flirt, and, most often, a woman who needs healing after being hurt too many times. Her goal may still be to just dance, but she seems more three-dimensional this time, more human than the “Fame Monster” title she gave herself all those years ago.

When the lyrics “All I ever wanted was love” bubble up on lead single “Stupid Love,” it sounds like a fresh revelation. When she declares “I’m still something if I don’t got a man,” on the single-ladies anthem “Free Woman,” it’s bold. And when she serenely tells herself “I’m not perfect yet, but I’ll keep trying” on “1000 Doves,” it’s like a breakthrough. You wouldn’t guess it from the cover art, which looks like an illustration torn from an old issue of Heavy Metal magazine, but Chromatica generally feels like therapy pop made by someone in search of an emotional breakthrough, and it rarely feels disingenuous, since dance music is the only vehicle that could deliver her over the edge of glory.

Two years after the TV series Pose pushed the world of late-Eighties/early-Nineties ballroom culture back into the mainstream, the record finds Lady Gaga reveling in the worlds of club music and voguing. Chromatica isn’t the only album to come out this year with a straight through-line back to the hypercolor Nineties — Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia leans beautifully on disco and synth-pop — but Gaga’s feels more deferential, more well-rounded as she reclaims the whooshing strings, horn spikes, and jump-roping beats and recasts them in her image.

At this point in her career, Gaga knows her signature moves, and she and her producers — a who’s who of pop and EDM luminaries, including BloodPop, Axwell, Max Martin, and even Skrillex — introduce new hooks about every other second, making for a fun and satisfying listen throughout. The album’s first real song, “Alice,” which follows the first of three easily skippable orchestral “Chromatica” interludes, opens with the chorus, “My name isn’t Alice, but I’ll keep looking for Wonderland,” which she sweetens with “ahhs” and an “oh ma-ma-ma” stutter that calls back to the “Ra-ra-roma-ma” of “Bad Romance.” It’s all different flavors of ear candy from there. “Rain on Me,” a duet with Ariana Grande about surviving a rough patch, echoes Nineties R&B with a stronger beat, “Sour Candy” mixes house with hip-hop yelps and K-pop bubblegum, thanks to an assist from the girl group Blackpink, and “Replay” bridges disco and deep house with time-warping beats as Gaga sings “The scars on my mind are on replay.”

She’s at her best, though, when taking musical risks, like on the New Wave-y “911,” which splits the difference between the Buggles and Kraftwerk, filtered through Gaga’s kaleidoscope, and on her duet with Elton John, “Sine From Above,” which has enough drama and funky synths to make it prog-pop. The two singers’ voices blend so beautifully, as they sing about acoustical physics (punning sine waves with “sign”), that it could prompt a spike in sales of oscilloscopes.

But on the other hand, as is often the case with Gaga, she stumbles when she gets too conceptual. “Plastic Doll,” a fantasy in which she uses a Barbie as a metaphor for her fragility in love (“I’m no toy for a real boy”), feels like too much of a stretch compared with the rest of the record’s more real-life personal epiphanies, and the closing track, “Babylon,” with its regrettable lyrics about spilling the tea with your friends, and the near-plagiaristic “Vogue” rap (seriously, just sing “Bette Davis, we love you” along with any of Gaga-donna’s lyrics and it syncs perfectly), deserves an Old Testament fate. It’s as if all the drama around “Born This Way” never happened. But those are just the shallows.

Mostly, Gaga has focused Chromatica’s spectrum on the kind of body-moving music that comes naturally to her. Dance music will always be her salvation, and her pop renaissance couldn’t come at a better time.

Read More