It was an incredibly exciting year for pop music lovers. Several huge pop queens released a new album and were in and out of the news. Some were exhaustingly boring (Prism by Katy Perry), some queens were just super annoying (Rihanna) and some were fabulous, poppy, entertaining and awesome. And one came new on the scene (Lorde)! The dynamics and differences in style between the ladies is very interesting, so I will be writing about that. But for now, let’s discuss what will become the album of the year: ARTPOP by Lady Gaga.
The world really needed some Gaga inspiration, weirdness and artiness. The Fame and Fame Monster were absolutely mind-blowing in terms of pop aesthetics. Gaga changed the pop music scene into a continuous wow extravaganza and exited the industry with a great voice, well-thought-out visuals and an ideology behind everything she was and is doing. The Born This Way album was amazing but it didn’t work for me, and I think for others, as well as it could have. The performances were a little to much ”Love yourself” stuff, which is a great message, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the message was so overwhelming the music, it became to distracting. Let’s just say: enough is enough, we can also just enjoy the music. And I think that’s what Gaga’s giving us with ARTPOP.
The single Applause and a few other snippets and singles were released prior to the album. Most recently, we could listen to Dope and Do What You Want (ft. R. Kelly) and finally had an idea what the album would sound like. The amazing artwork was released and showed Gaga as a Jeff Koons sculpture with classical paintings like the Venus by Botticelli in the background. ARTPOP is thus a collaboration between what we understand as high art and pop music. In that way, Gaga was spot on by explaining the work to be a reversed Warholian experience. Not taking pop culture and making it art, but taking the art and integrating it in pop culture. But I could write on and on about visuals, let’s just focus on the music right now!
The first 6 songs are not that appealing to me as the songs 7 through 15. The opening song Aura, for me, is just too loud and noisy. Venus is cool but you really have to get used to it. I still have to listen more to G.U.Y, Sexxx Dreams and Jewels N’ Drugs but I really get exited when we get to Do What You Want. R. Kelly was a surprise and I’m not supporting him or his reputation at all. I don’t really think he contributes in a positive way to the song, but it has a great beat and rhythm. Gaga also used some weird slow and flowy tunes, for example in the title song. ”We could, we could, belong together (ARTPOP)”, the ARTPOP is really flowy like it moves with the wind. This is a nice contrast with the slamming beats and electronic energy.
My absolute favorites are Swine, Donatella, Dope, Gypsy and Applause. Swine is just the ultimate club song and I hope I can go crazy soon in one of the clubs in my town. The way Donatella is put together is just so funny and awesome, you can scream along perfectly with the DO-NE-TELL-A! Awesome. For me, the best surprise and much needed loaded peace was the song Dope. I think this song symbolizes a huge turning point in pop music where the club song meets a dark brother in the corner. Dope could be just another love song but it is very loaded and almost disturbing because Gaga uses her voice in a very different and present way. It is the obsession/addiction love song. ARTPOP closes with the happy song Gypsy (it reminds me a lot of the eighties influences on the Born This Way album) and finally, Applause. I think it was a very smart move to choose the last song on the album as a first single because it really summarizes the ARTPOP feeling.
I think Gaga was the much needed some what adult presence in pop music and is therefore the perfect balance to the YOLO lifestyle Miley Cyrus portrays with her style and album. These two ladies are the it girls of 2013 in the way they use marketing, style, visuals and their voice to win the crowd over. LOVE!
– Gracia Visscher