The remix album is a strange format; its conceit inherently undercuts the original album, as if it needs improvement, while simultaneously offers up seemingly unnecessary new versions of old songs. Last year, Dua Lipa teamed up with the Blessed Madonna for Club Future Nostalgia, a fun but ill–timed release in the middle of a pandemic. In the case of Lady Gaga's Chromatica, its corresponding remix album Dawn Of Chromatica somehow both lacks ideas and overflows with them. Where the original skimped on forward–looking production in favor of radio–friendly sleekness, Dawn blasts its way through balls–to–the–wall hyperpop.
But "hyperpop" as a term reduces this record's intricacies, and attempting to label each and every strand of "genre" here is a task better suited for Spotify algorithms than mortal humans. Dawn doesn't perfectly adhere to hyperpop's tropes, whatever those tropes are. A trait of the genre is the resistance of classification. If anything, the album accurately captures, more or less, the state of hyperpop today while the Internet accelerates into cultural oblivion.
Gaga isn't even the first pop star to bring so–called "hyperpop" to mainstream attention. Charli XCX arguably did so when she released her iconic 2016 EP, Vroom Vroom, entirely produced by the late trans pioneer SOPHIE. That being said, Dawn of Chromatica stands as the largest platform to date for the mercurial micro–genre. Note that Gaga appears to have taken a decidedly hands off approach to Dawn. Her brand has become so big that she is currently in three separate eras at once. While House of Gucci promotion rolls out, Gaga has announced her second duet album with Tony Bennett, in addition to her recent drop of Dawn.
BloodPop executive produced Chromatica with Gaga herself, but this time around, he takes full control of the reigns. For those who don't know Michael Tucker (or BloodPop, formerly known as Blood Diamonds), he used to exist in that strange area between independent electronic and mainstream pop behind the boards of hits such as Justin Bieber's "Sorry" and obscurities like Grimes' "Go." Now he's the kind of artist who will bring others into the mainstream by mere association. Proof? Let's look at the guest list of this album.
Dawn of Chromatica has no thesis statement written into it. If Grimes had turned in her monologue on time, maybe it would have. In any case, the album's Catherine wheel of queer collaborators make up for the apparent lack of direction with their own eccentricities. COUCOU CHLOE brings the wholesome and joyful "Stupid Love" down to her underworld, subsuming the song's absurd bass drop into a dark, addictive murmur of "freak out." Rina Sawayama and her close collaborator Clarence Clarity give "Free Woman" an extra boost of empowering energy. It's hard to resist cracking a smile on the street when you hear Rina say "Let's go, Gaga" in your AirPods.
Conversely, Charli XCX and PC Music mastermind A.G. Cook manipulate the vocoded strut of "911" into a bewildering new form. It's not unlistenable and rather quite pleasant, but the placement of Charli's guest verse at the track's end confuses the ear more than it elucidates the remix's layers. Not to be overlooked are LSDXOXO's saunter–worthy "Alice" rework, Doss' masterful interpretation of "Enigma," and Planningtorock's rousing rendition of "1000 Doves." BloodPop's own fan–favorite Haus Labs version of "Babylon" doesn't disappoint. Neither does up–and–coming rapper Bree Runway's bars on JIMMY EDGAR's remix of the track. Lastly, there is my personal favorite—Arca's genius remix of "Rain On Me." The Venezuelan provocateur concocts a hypnotic potion from a total of four songs, borrowing from Changa Tuki as well as her own discography. In doing so, she transforms the original's staid radio fodder into a distinctly queer riot of sound. The result is nothing less than euphoric.
As much pleasure as these songs offer, Dawn sags at times with the sheer amount of people on certain songs, namely Shygirl and Mura Masa's "Sour Candy" and the inane disasterpiece of the "Sine From Above" remix. Shygirl and Mura Masa's performances are decent by themselves, but they both don't have a lot of room to breathe and rub up awkwardly against Gaga and BLACKPINK's lines. "Sine From Above," on the other hand, sounds like a ten–year–old boy's version of pop music, pondering what wack–a–doodle effects work best with the hardest–hitting drum machines. Not to mention that the song features Elton John, who sounds even more out of place than he did on Chromatica, as well as the producers Lil Texas, Mood Killer, and BloodPop associate Chester Lockhart. By the time you reach the end of the track's intense rollercoaster of vapid production choices, you're glad it's over. Dawn of Chromatica offers up a plethora of chaotic moments and celebrity names that may take a few listens to get accustomed to.