Lady Gaga: ARTPOP – album review

Lady Gaga – ARTPOP (Interscope)

CD/ DL

Available now

6/10

As Lady Gaga’s relevance is questioned, Harley Cassidy reviews her fourth studio album  – ARTPOP  – and tries to unveil the woman behind the meat dress. 

Once regarded as a boundary-pushing liberal force, some see Lady Gaga struggling to keep a foothold in the constantly shifting terrain of pop music. With many artists using the cheap trick that is the shock-factor, it’s times like this when any self-developed artist from pre-2010 needs some pretty good songs to stand as the backbone of an album alongside the charade. Sadly, this is where Lady Gaga flounders.

I believe we should cherish pop singers just as much as the big, stadium-filling rock bands. They get some serious flack from highbrow music types who believe that to be a “true artist” you have to have a guitar slung over your back and put doleful pen to paper. But let’s face it without the Michael Jacksons and Madonnas the industry would be a boring place. I seriously believe Lady Gaga could and will be an artist who will be looked back on with awe and pre-eminence. I stick up for her any chance I get. I even defended that egg thing she rocked up in for the Grammy’s for Christ’s sake. So after listening to ARTPOP I feel a little bit hurt  – and betrayed.

I wish I could explain the feelings I get when I listen to ARTPOP. But the problem is, I don’t have any. The majority of ARTPOP seems vapid and transparent – almost computer-like in form. Watching her live performances on X Factor or the iTunes festival, Gaga’s voice is a machine taking on rock-like credentials before dropping to a beautifully controlled harmonised flutter. So why the hell doesn’t this transfer to record?

Sexxx Dreams is a perfect example. Her iTunes performance set it out to be a certain hit with a sinister bridge leaping into an animalistic chorus. On record, though it comes across as a soulless albeit brilliant song. And yes, there are some brilliant songs on ARTPOP. Do What U Want is a supposed slam at the press in which she retains her soul and mind and disregards her body as a shell, declaring,  “do what you want with my body”. Pretty deep, right? Aura is a baffling saucepot of spices, a mariachi-flavoured stomper with an electro aftertaste in which Gaga asks her audience, “do you want to see behind the aura?”. It’s classic bonkers pop music from the Lady herself.

I don’t know whether I’m being stupid listening to the album and just can’t grasp the hidden meaning, ’cause there always has to be a hidden meaning – they’re cool and secretly give artists an excuse to vindicate a straight up, basic pop song. Or maybe I’m over-thinking everything and Lady Gaga just wants to take the piss and have fun and write lyrics like “Aphrodite lady seashell bikini”. ARTPOP is a pendulum that swings between the two – I see the pop but where is the art? I’m pretty sure art isn’t naming a song Mary Jane Holland.

Secretly I want someone to take me by the hand and dissect the album, tell me where I’m going wrong. After a few more listens, ARTPOP will be the fun, uplifting listen that I knew on Fame Monster and Born This Way. But whilst those two albums stimulated me upon first listen, I can’t say the same about Gaga’s fourth offering.

However, as long as she has her Little Monsters behind her and a cunning businesswoman approach, Lady Gaga will hopefully continue to sustain a healthy, interesting relationship in the music industry. And I guess I’ll be there with her, claw raised and all.

~

Visit Lady Gaga’s website here. Follow her on Twitter here and she’s on Facebook here.

All words by Harley Cassidy. You can read more of Harley’s work here or follow her on Twitter at @harleycassidy

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  1. One wonders if Artpop will turn out to be Gaga’s Waking Up With the House On Fire. Culture Club floundered and never recovered from that fiasco of an album.

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