When Lady Gaga’s latest album Joanne was released last month, the stripped-down set became the singer-songwriter’s fourth Number One LP. Among those paying close attention was recent CMA nominee Kelsea Ballerini – it didn’t take long for the artist and co-writer behind the chart-topping “Peter Pan” to fall in love with Joanne‘s heartbreaking ballad “Million Reasons.”
“Gaga over this new Gaga, and as always, bowing down to Hillary Lindsey writing the best songs,” Ballerini writes in an Instagram caption accompanying her brief but impassioned guitar-vocal performance of the tune.
Penned by Gaga with Mark Ronson and Nashville’s Hillary Lindsey (“Girl Crush”), the pop song’s crossover appeal to country fans has been compared to Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons,” which the latter performed with the Dixie Chicks at last week’s CMA Awards.
For Gaga, the opportunity to write with Lindsey was an idea initially sparked by hearing the song that took Carrie Underwood from American Idol to country-pop superstar.
“It’s only so many times in your life that you hear a song that really changes things for you,” Gaga told Rolling Stone while in Music City last month on the first stop of her Dive Bar Tour. “When I heard ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel,’ I was like, OK. Some people look at it as a song written for an American Idol, Carrie Underwood, who is wonderful. But when you’re a songwriter listening to a song, you hear something else. I heard that song and wow.”
Written at Gaga’s Los Angeles home, “Million Reasons” was the second song they composed together, but their first meeting yielded plenty of potential material for the Nashville-based tunesmith.
“She is a badass songwriter,” Lindsey says. “Pretty much everything she said, I’m like, ‘That’s a title! You’ve gotta either stop talking or you’ve gotta let me come live here for a month, because everything you say is a song.’ It was just the two of us and it was just a very natural process, a straight-up songwriting process. The only thing different is she writes her lyrics out on an old school typewriter, which I freakin’ love.”
Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” is being released to pop radio this week. Kelsea Ballerini’s first headlining tour continues with shows later this week in Knoxville and Atlanta.