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ATP! Album Review: Lady Gaga - ARTPOP

“STATUES, PAINTINGS, BLUE BALLS, OH MY! ARTPOP IS FINALLY HERE FOR THE WORLD TO SEE AND… oh.” This was my initial reaction to Lady Gaga’s latest release, ARTPOP. It’s been two years since Born This Way and Gaga decided to follow it up with truly a cluster of colors, sounds, and words. It all seems a little awkward. Not just the album, but also the state of Gaga all-together. Is Gaga trying to make something revolutionary for the world to see? Or is she too caught-up in her image to realize that she doesn’t have to try to do so? With such a finely produced record, other aspects of ARTPOP made this whole thing, again, awkward.

ARTPOP ‘s opening tracks paved a sketchy way for the rest of the album. One of the main areas this album suffers in is the lack of strength of each track, particularly in their verses. ‘Aura’ and “Venus’ are prime examples of this. Gaga’s vocals shine through each chorus giving hope each time her stellar voice caress your ear and you think, “Hey, maybe this song isn’t totally bad.” Until it ends and the rest of the lyrics awkwardly crawl out your headphones and leave you with this feeling of, “huh.” It just didn’t seem like the Gaga we know. Not to mention the fact that it seemed like Gaga just liked to say words (“Dance / Sex / Art / Pop” trying to pass themselves as actual lyrics).

Gaga seemed like she was actually trying too hard on this record. Trying to sound theatrical, trying to have a fake British accent (‘Applause’, ahem), trying to be artsy, trying to be revolutionary, and trying to be relevant all at the same time. But it all came together and sadly worked against her.

Gaga is known for her originality, so why do some of her songs seem overdone? It’s always odd to see such a creative artist succumb to a trend like house and trap music and try to make it authentic. ‘Jewels and Drugs’ really didn’t seem to fit anywhere on this record. Besides it’s drug addict theme, the featured verses from Too $hort and T.I. plus the heavy trap beat all seem random when compared to the rest of ARTPOP’s heavy house/synth influence (even though ‘Swine’ could easily just be a Zedd song featuring Gaga).

Not to mention the lackluster choice of themes in ARTPOP. Particularly speaking about ‘Do What U Want.’ Another example of featured artist’s verses causing the song to ultimately suffer. What starts out as Gaga giving the finger to paparazzi turns in to ‘Blurred Lines Pt. 2 by R. Kelly.’ “I got what you want… Do what I want with your body... No invitations it’s a private party”. If your skin kind of started to crawl a little bit, don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal for a sane person to be repulsed by rape culture. Given, Gaga is making it clear that it is her choice throughout the entire song, and there is obviously a deeper message.

This all brings to light whether ARTPOP is even that revolutionary. ‘G.U.Y’ talking about gender as a social spectrum, ‘ARTPOP’ explaining how her art can mean anything (insert eye roll), ‘Mary Jane Holland’ and it’s necessity for weed, and even ‘Aura’ raving about independence and self-empowerment. It all seems like… it’s been done before! Even the supposed “groundbreaking” album artwork created by Jeff Koons was Gaga trying to make ARTPOP something new by blurring the lines between art and pop (because people have already forgotten about Andy Warhol with The Velvet Underground and Patrick Nagel with Duran Duran).

There are some gems on ARTPOP though. ‘MANiCURE’ is as catchy, fabulous and glittery as everything we love about Gaga. While the double clap beat is highly overdone (‘My First Kiss’ by 3OH!3, ‘Micky’ by Toni Basil), ‘MANiCURE’ may be your next morning anthem getting ready for your day. The same can be said for ‘Donatella.’ Being everything ‘Fashion’ wanted to be, ‘Donatella’ is that bitchy, fierce, and take-no-prisoners executive that lives in all of us (ignoring Gaga still exploiting her gay fans in the second verse).

Later on the record lays ‘Gypse.’ The love child of ‘Marry the Night’ and ‘Edge of Glory.’ Gaga’s powerful vocals accompanied by the track’s heavy kick drum are enough to make any gloomy soul throw up their arms and chant the lyrics up and down the aisles of the grocery store. ‘Gypse’ should have been the track to close out ARTPOP. The track makes you remember the true effortlessness and talent Lady Gaga put in to her music to make it extraordinary. It leaves you wanting to frolic through a field and making the entire ARTPOP experience seems a like it was sort of worth it.

ARTPOP had a lot of hope. With some strong tracks here and there, astounding vocals, and dance floor worthy beats, the whole album really left something to be desired. ARTPOP seemed like Lady Gaga plastered together an art project to try and keep her grasp on the pop world. Sadly, Gaga needs to make something (not exactly) along the lines of her effortless The Fame Monster in order to recreate that pop experience people fell in love with years ago.


Jordan Wyman

ARTPOP is out now via Streamline/Interscope Records.

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