Lady Gaga’s new album features a song about police brutality. In a new interview promoting Joanne, Gaga revealed she couldn’t help but write about “the epidemic of young African-Americans being murdered in this country.”
“I was overwhelmed by the fact that people just stood around,” she told radio show Beats 1, “and didn’t do anything about it and that the justice system continues – to over and over again – not seek justice for these families.”
Trayvon Martin served as the singer’s inspiration on “Angel Down.” Gunman George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed Black teenager in Florida four years ago.
And it wasn’t just Martin who helped shape the somber tune. Gaga also listened to her young Black fans “who are terrified” about run-ins with police.
“They tell me they drive in their cars, and if they hear a siren, there is a paranoia that runs through their body, that they freeze up, that they can’t think. This is a tremendous anxiety,” she said. “This is something that I care about. This is something that has to stop, something that we all need to heal from.”
“Angel Down” contains lyrics questioning belonging and describing a shooting in a sacred space.
“Doesn’t everyone belong in the arms of the sacred,” the song goes. “Why do we pretend we’re wrong? Has our young courage faded? Shots were fired down the street by the church where we used to meet.”
“Angel down, angel down,” Gaga recited as she raised her arms. “Why do people just stand around?”
The 30-year-old singer-songwriter acknowledged the trouble with singing about racial politics as a white woman.
“It’s also a complicated thing,” Gaga said. “I’m not an African-American woman. How do you speak about [these] things?”
Still, she felt a responsibility to sing about something meaningful.
“How can I not say something? How could I possibly make an album about twerking my a– in the club?… In my mind, I can’t reckon it. It feels empty. It feels irrelevant.”
On Twitter, the reaction toward the song has been positive.
Tobey urged Gaga to perform “Angel Down” as part of her Super Bowl performance next year.
Courtney felt overcome with emotion after listening to the song.
"Angel Down" by @ladygaga gave me full body chills and brought tears to my eyes… wow. #RIPTrayvonMartin #BlackLivesMatter
— 𝚌𝚌. (@ccsaystoomuch) October 21, 2016
Meanwhile, Tellali was moved to tears.