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Review: Lady Gaga – ARTPOP


Yep, the wait is finally the over. And I'm only one month late! Well, a little more than that. I'm not really good with intros, so can we just cut to the chase? Alrighty then.

1) "Aura"
Originally titled "Burqa," the song begins with Western-style guitar riffs and Gaga's distorted vocals as she confesses to killing her "former," before erupting into a schizophrenic onslaught of glitchy synths and pounding beats. The bold lyrics make a potentially controversial reference to the burqa, which here is used as a metaphor for Gaga's own artistry and sexuality: "Enigma popstar is fun, she wear burqa for fashion / It's not a statement as much as just a move of passion." In the chorus, she proceeds to ask, "Do you wanna see me naked, lover? / Do you wanna peek underneath the cover? / Do you wanna see the girl who lives behind the aura?" Then again, it wouldn't be Lady Gaga without a little bit of controversy, huh? 10/10




2) "Venus"
I wasn't particularly taken with this song at first, but now I absolutely love it. Gaga embodies a seashell-bikini-clad goddess of love on this tale of interplanetary romance and sex, while cleverly combining space themes and Roman mythology. "Let's blast off to a new dimension / In your bedroom," Gaga commands amidst a soundscape of sci-fi synths and stuttering beats—courtesy of French producer Madeon, who also produced Ellie Goulding's flawless "Stay Awake." Gotta love the
not-so-subtle pun in the lyric "Uranus / Don't you know my ass if famous?!" 9/10




3) "G.U.Y."
"G.U.Y." (an acronym for "Girl Under You") is a power-bottom anthem that explores gender roles, feminism, dominance, and submission through smart word play, with Zedd's grinding, dubstep-inflected synth work dripping with sexual energy. "I don't need to be on top to know I'm wanted / Cuz I'm strong enough to know the truth." The intergalactic speech that opens the track is a little awkward, but I love the
pulsing electronics. Sounds like a potential single. 9/10



4) "Sexxx Dreams"
The sleazy, late-night synthpop number is easily one of the album's standouts. Gaga confesses to having erotic dreams about someone who is apparently taken already. "When I lay in bed I touch myself and think of you," she croons provocatively. The explosive chorus sounds pretty Daft Punk-esque if you ask me, while the sexual ambiguity in the line "Heard your boyfriend was away this weekend / Wanna meet at my place?" recalls that of "Quicksand" by La Roux (where the hell are they??). The added ad-libs initially threw me off a bit, but I think I'm used to them by now. 10/10



5) "Jewels N' Drugs" (featuring T.I., Too $hort and Twista)
Oddly enough, I actually like it. No, this is not one of those weird dreams where you begin to wonder if this is real life
—Gaga really did collaborate with T.I., Too $hort, and Twista. "I admit that my habit's expensive / And you may find it quite offensive," she confesses as she channels her inner gangsta bitch on this trap-inspired track. This is not her first foray into trap music—remember the humorous "Cake Like Lady Gaga," which came out last year? That one also took a while to grow on me, but now I often find myself twerking to it. Sort of. 8/10


This GIF seems fitting for some reason



6) "MANiCURE"
This anthemic, high-energy electro-rock earworm boasts cheerleader-like chants and goofy sex metaphors, playing like a mix of Gwen Stefani's "Crash" and Toni Basil's "Mickey." Based on the
double entendre in the song's title, the lyrics seem to be open to interpretation—I assume Gaga either needs a man to cure her problems, or she needs to be cured of her addiction to men (probably ones who are no good for her). She can also be singing about how beauty treatments are a cure for her insecurities, or even dolling herself up in order to get some action. Either way, it's a fun song to listen to while getting ready for a night out. That synth-guitar solo in the outro is pretty rad as well. 8/10


7) "Do What U Want" (featuring R. Kelly)
Definitely one of Gaga's strongest songs in recent time. The '80s-tastic throbbing synths are a perfect fit for Gaga's throaty, vampy, confident vocals. Despite its sexual innuendo and come-hither nature, "Do What U Want" is actually a big "fuck you" to Gaga's detractors, and makes a powerful statement on how she is unapologetic about the way the media portrays her image (i.e., her body). Although R. Kelly's verses might drag the song into "Blurred Lines" territory, their vocals kind of fit together. Also, the wait for the video
—which is being directed by Gaga's infamous longtime collaborator Terry Richardson—is killing me. 10/10




8) "ARTPOP"
The title track sheds some light on the album's concept (described by the Lady herself as "a reverse Warholian expedition") and Gaga's intentions to fuse art and pop culture. "My ARTPOP could mean anything," she purrs with understated sensuality over a minimal, hypnotic electro-jazz backdrop. It's one of the album's simpler moments, but a pleasing one nevertheless. 7/10


9) "Swine"
Ah, the song about Perez Hilton. Kidding. "Swine" actually seems to hint at a traumatic experience in Gaga's life—presumably, sexual abuse. The Nine Inch Nails-esque tune is built on a shrieking, rubbery bass and piercing synth wobbles, as Gaga expresses her sheer angst and disgust through screams and squeals. The result is honest, raw, and even vulnerable. 8/10



10) "Donatella"
Opening with the diva-esque (and funny) line "I'm blonde, I'm skinny, I'm rich / And I'm a little bit of a bitch," the song is an ode to the decadent, jet-setting lifestyle of fashion mogul and close friend Donatella Versace, set against a catwalk-ready techno beat. It also discusses body image issues and eating disorders that are still ever so present in the fashion industry, with lyrics like "Walk down the runway but don't puke, it's okay / You just had a salad today"—which appear to allude to Gaga's own struggles as well. Whether it's deliberately vapid or implicitly satirical, "Donatella" has grown on me. 7/10


I have a feeling she forgot to ask her gay friends their advice before she got a spray tan on holiday in Taipei



11) "Fashion!"
Not to be confused with the song Gaga wrote and recorded for one of my favorite movies, 2009's Confessions of a Shopaholic. A David Bowie-inspired throwback to '80s glam rock and New Wave, with some Daft Punk-worthy synths thrown in. I honestly don't know what surprises me the most—that Gaga worked on a track with will.i.am and David Guetta, or that the latter two can actually produce a song that doesn't suck. Not bad, but not all that impressive either. 6/10

12) "Mary Jane Holland"
Is Mary Jane Holland supposed to be some pot-smoking alter ego from Amsterdam? I like the lyrics, and Madeon's production might sound promising at first listen, but then it turns out to be rather plodding. 6/10

13) "Dope"
The requisite piano-driven rock ballad, in which a heartbroken Gaga addresses drug addiction and laments the loss of a longtime friend and/or lover. It has a nice melody, and Gaga's vocals sound impressive (when they're not trembling), but overall it's just really lackluster. 5/10

14) "Gypsy"
Am I really the only one who doesn't get the hype over this? I don't care if it's a fan favorite, I find "Gypsy" to be not much more than an awful, pointless filler track that sounds like a watered-down mix of "Marry the Night" or "The Edge of Glory." I REGRET NOTHING. 4/10



15) "Applause"
I guess it's safe to say that "Applause" pales in comparison to Gaga's previous hits such as "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance"
—at least production-wise, because the cleverly constructed lyrics make for some interesting imagery. Even if it's not her best single, this euphoric, Euro-friendly synth-fest is genuinelly fun and never fails to put me in a good mood. Plus, my mom likes the song and the video, and that's all that matters to me. ONE SECOND I'M A KOONS THEN SUDDENLY THE KOONS IS ME. 8/10


 
Final rating: 7.6/10

While ARTPOP does experiment with a considerably broad range of electronic (and non-electronic) music genres, the album as a whole doesn't feel as sonically consistent as The Fame or The Fame Monster (or even Born This Way). Not quite the album of the millennium (yes, I do realize she was being sarcastic when she tweeted that), but definitely one of the best albums of the year, in my opinion. I'm sure Gaga will be continuously defying artistic boundaries, considering she's one of the boldest, most fearless artist in today's music industry.

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Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Probably the R. Kelly song, I hate to say because I despise him.

      Delete
    2. same here. the song is just too good, but he's kinda gross. Xtina should replace him in the music video

      Delete

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