About a month ahead of her final Joanne World Tour date, Lady Gaga has gifted her fans with an emotional, stripped-down version of Joanne’s title track, dubbed “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)”
The original track, named and written in memory of Gaga’s late aunt, is moving to begin with—when she sings “Heaven’s not / Ready for you / Every part / Of my aching heart / Needs you more / Than the angels do,” it’s nearly impossible not to feel for Gaga and her family members. The song takes on even more meaning if you watch Gaga’s 2017 documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, in which she plays an early version of the track for her grandmother.
But is it bad that we like this new version even better than the original? Gaga has always excelled at the piano, and the ballad’s sparse instrumentation gives Gaga room to let her powerful, expressive vocals shine. Plus, the “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” music video—which contains a mix of black and white and coloured footage as well as a few brief clips of Gaga on the verge of tears—really helps drive song’s message home.
Lady Gaga has released balladic, piano-driven versions of some of her hits in the past, most notably “Bad Romance” (which was featured in Gaga: Five Foot Two) “Paparazzi,” and “Poker Face.” “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” is a worthy addition to the list.
Lady Gaga is nominated for two Grammy Awards this year (Best Pop Vocal Album for Joanne and Best Pop Solo Performance for Joanne single “Million Reasons”), where she’s up against artists like Kesha, Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey and Pink. She’s also set to perform during the Grammy Awards ceremony, so maybe she’ll pull out her piano and perform “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” live on stage.
Gaga also recently announced her upcoming Las Vegas residency, which is set to last for 74 dates and start sometime late this year, and will likely start promoting her lead performance alongside Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born in a few months. And rumours about Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album, temporarily christened LG6 by fans, have already begun to surface (she’s supposedly working on a record that’ll share DNA with ARTPOP).
Gaga is busier than she’s ever been, so releasing “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” could very well be her way of unofficially bidding farewell to the Joanne era once and for all. If so, we couldn’t think of a better way to go out.