@LadyGaGa’s #ARTPOP not as great as expected :/

UPDATE: It’s not that great, y’all. I listened to the other tracks after it leaked, and I’m sadly disappointed by what GaGa has churned out. Scroll to the bottom for the full update.

She may have scared half of us away with her spastic VMA’s performance and the rest of us with her live profane acts (read about GaGa’s live nudity at concerts here), but GaGa does understand when it’s time to release quality music in order to rope in her target demographic. This is definitely something she pulls off relatively flawlessly with her recent releases: “Aura,” “Do What U Want” and “Venus,” in time for her new LP ARTPOP.

You already know that I’m not the BIGGEST fan of Applause, but I do believe that GaGa stepped up her game for her recent full releases melody-wise. One can hear the trademark flourishes and structures on songs like “Aura” that remind the listener of her fan-favorites “Government Hooker” (listen here) and “Schieβe” (listen here). It’s as if GaGa took two of the dirtiest and slickest dance beats from the Born This Way album (not counting “Heavy Metal Lover” (listen here), which in and of itself deserves it’s own “need to take a shower after listening to this because I feel so dirrty for enjoying it” category) and threw them into a blender to create this ode to the mystery of the burqa. The sad part about this song is that one gets the feeling that GaGa truly does not understand the cultural significance of the hijab… She understands only what many people think they know about the repressive capabilities of it. I think this article summarizes it best. Otherwise, the song is very classic-outrageous-“WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY” GaGa.

And of course there’s “Do What U Want,” which, when I found out that R. Kelly was going to be featured on it, I must say that I was mighty curious. After reading about how R. Kelly likes to pick up girls all over Chicago and invite them over for Chinese food, I figured whatever would come of this collaboration would have to involve getting peed on be somewhat crazy and interesting. And boy was I right. The song itself was just the right amount of sleazy, old-school R&B jam and lyrical genius to let everyone know that they could say whatever they wanted about GaGa’s body because it would not matter at the end of the day. Of course, my favorite part is when Kelly breaks it down, saying,

“Yea we takin’ them haters | and we’re roughin’ them up | And we laying in the club like we don’t give a FUUCCC***”

– R. Kelly in Lady GaGa’s “Do What U Want”

This vibe takes me back to The Fame era, when everything was just about the music. And GaGa was just a crazy pop star instead of an activist and attention-grabber. Side note: I like it when she’s an activist. The beat itself it so much more futuristic than that album, but it goes well with the rest of her recent releases. It also has a way of distinguishing itself from the rest of the pop landscape clutter; when those first three seconds play, you know that you’re going to be listening to GaGa tell you that your words of hatred toward her mean nothing for about 3:47 minutes.

Last, but certainly not least, GaGa released “Venus,” which was supposed to be her official second single (but “Do What U Want” is definitely the superior song, and was rightly chosen by her management instead).

Now on first listen, I hated it. I mean, really, GaGa, you’re just going to scream Venus at us every ten seconds during your first and second stanzas? But, that chorus really did it for me. Like, made me want to truck through the other lesser parts of the song just to reach the chorus and hear GaGa break the beat down in signature pop-vixen style. And, after subsequent listenings, the song finally started growing on me. And now I don’t really mind the random Venus’ thrown around.

As for the other songs… Here are the “standouts” (if you can really call them that…):

  • G.U.Y. – You definitely have to listen to it from the beginning. It’s like a continuation of the electro odyssey Zedd takes the listener on when listening to his masterpiece Clarity. Overall, the lyrics are pretty standard, the beat is sick and GaGa doesn’t sound like she’s trying too hard. Think “LoveGame” crossed with “Hourglass” by Zedd and dipped in some Ace of Base Eurodance goodness.
  • ARTPOP – You’d expect the title song to be a thumper, but it’s more of a futuristic loungey orchestration. Think the banquet scene from The Fifth Element combined with Hilary Duff‘s “Play With Fire” and tinged with ’80s dance music. That’s ARTPOP.
  • Mary Jane Holland – Pretty solid, until you reach the chorus, where she screams “Mary! Jane! Holland!” for no reason than to just hear herself scream. I do enjoy the breakdown toward the end – it’s very QUEEN meets KISS. Very glam-rock.
  • Dope – This release sounds like GaGa trying her best to recreate the magic of “Speechless” and “Yoü And I.” And it works relatively well, except that she tries too hard when she builds up to the chorus. I understand that the song is supposed to be dramatic, but it doesn’t start sounding natural until the second verse. And that’s a huge issue, especially when this song may become a single.
  • Gypsy – Now this song is amazing. Think of the good parts of “Hair” and all of “The Edge of Glory” combined with epic power-ballad-turned-electro-stomper magnificence, with sonic whistles and all. In other words, it’s a really great song. And it definitely would have been the best way to end the album.

The rest of the album is just filler and terrible lyrics. I’m disappointed that there were not more pleasant surprises on the album, but I guess that’s what happens when you concentrate on making “art” and not “pop” (I’m making fun of the artists who say they make art, not popular music).