“ARTPOP” reveals experimental side of Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga in “Applause” makeup.

 
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After Lady Gaga cancelled her Born This Wall Ball in February 2013 due to a hip injury, she disappeared from the eye of the media for about six months while being hospitalized. In August, she returned stronger than ever, both physically and musically.

“Applause,” the first single off of Gaga’s fourth studio album, ARTPOP, generated hype after its release. Fans were both excited and overwhelmed by a sound Gaga had never before explored. The song begins with sharp, stark synths that move into verses so vocally dramatic that they seem to be meant to scare off a mainstream audience.

Regardless, the song made it onto the radio for its catchy chorus and addictive claps. The video (audio here) debuted on Good Morning America, shocking its audience with its imagery and strange motifs. Images like Gaga’s head on the body of a swan or her imitating The Birth of Venus by Botticelli showed that Gaga’s inspiration would never run dry.

The album itself dropped November 11, after leaking, of course. The anticipating fans were already able to hear some of the songs in a performance at the 2013 iTunes Festival in London, and the full album certainly did not disappoint. ARTPOP is an album where every song is memorable.

The meaning of ARTPOP is not necessarily entirely defined. The name is a play on “pop art,” a ‘50s movement in which Andy Warhol ruled the art world with soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. “The intention of the album was to put art culture into pop music, a reverse of Warhol,” said Gaga in an interview. “Instead of putting pop onto the canvas, we wanted to put the art onto the soup can.”

The role of art in pop seems to be a minor theme in the album as a whole. Much more impressive are the songs themselves, each with its own style and amazing use of electronics, thanks to producers such as Zedd and DJ White Shadow. ARTPOP is almost purely a dance record, with the intention to uplift and celebrate the music itself.

The music is imperfect, but it is the confidence of the record that makes the album such a musical success. Pop couldn’t be blended with electronica, EDM, and R&B more perfectly. Artists such as T.I. and R. Kelly even contribute to the album.

“Do What U Want” became the second single off of ARTPOP after its original release as a promotional single. The track received critical success for its radio-friendliness, and the opening bass line becomes more addicting after each listen. The duet between Gaga’s thick mezzo tone and R. Kelly’s smooth, steady vocals is surprisingly seamless.

The title track, “ARTPOP,” captures the real yet ambiguous meaning of the album. “A hybrid can withstand these things/My heart can beat with bricks and strings/My ARTPOP could mean anything.” The song is a celebration of Gaga’s artistry and her true passion behind making music. “I try to sell myself, but I am really laughing because I just love the music, not the bling.”

Perhaps one of the most electrifying songs of the album is “Swine,” which offers thrusting synths, perfect for a “monster”-crazed rave. The powerful pulse of the song masks the true poignancy of the lyrics as Gaga laments the “swine” in her life. “Squealer, squealer, squeal out, you’re so disgusting/You’re just a pig inside.” Though the song may not be Top 40 material, it could command a dance floor anytime.

Overall, ARTPOP finds Gaga in uncharted territory- with excellent results.

 

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