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Lady Gaga – ARTPOP Track by Track Review

ARTPOP

           Gone are the days when people would call Lady Gaga a one hit wonder. I discovered her when she was new on the scene, and instantly fell in love with her perfect mix of glamor and enigma. As time has passed, Lady Gaga has grown into a pop icon that the world expects (or even demands) to make catchy pop songs. Unfortunately for the world, Lady Gaga is an artist unwilling to bend to society’s expectations, and she enjoys jumping from one box that society has labelled and stuffed her inside and into another. Along the way, she creates some masterpieces and some tracks that fans will love, but the general public just won’t get — not that she minds.

          Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP is probably her most polarizing work among the general public. While she was generally favored by everyone during her The Fame and The Fame Monster days, when Born This Way came in, it ushered an era among her fans where some began to get off her bandwagon, to be replaced by new fans that weren’t that interested in ‘Fame’ Gaga. This has created a diverse mix of Gaga fans (which sounds like an understatement), but the end result has made it impossible for Gaga to really please the lot of her fans with ARTPOP.

          There are tracks that every fan will enjoy, be they a longtime monster from The Fame days, or a Born This Way-era convert, but as a whole, ARTPOP isn’t Gaga’s strongest work.

Track #1 – ‘AURA’ –

‘Aura’ opens ARTPOP in typical Gaga fashion – singing about the mystery of Gaga herself. It’s a wonderfully dark track, and would make a perfect continuation to Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’ / ‘Telephone’ music video saga. Whether or not it will actually ever become a single is debatable, because while the song is catchy, it isn’t relatable, and odds are the general public just wouldn’t enjoy it as much as a legion of little monsters.

Track #2 – ‘VENUS’ –

‘Venus’, which Gaga performed live multiple times for ARTPOP promo, is probably one of the most memorable songs from ARTPOP. It’s suggestive and fun, bordering on lyrically absurd (which, once again, is typical for Gaga.) Absurd, of course, is a great thing – and its out of the ordinary lyrics make ‘Venus’ a catchy tune that would make for a killer music video.

Track #3 – ‘G.U.Y (Girl Under You)’ –

Lady Gaga teased ‘G.U.Y.’ long before ARTPOP was released, and it’s no wonder why: the song is amazing. ‘G.U.Y.’ should have been a single much sooner than it was, but thanks to it coming out long after the album’s release, a lot of the fuss surrounding ARTPOP had died down, and ‘G.U.Y.’ sadly didn’t enjoy the success it deserved. The music video was perfection, and as a long time Gaga fan, it made me proud to see how far she’s come. This is Gaga on top of her game, and hopefully her future albums will contain gems like this.

Track #4 – ‘Sexxx Dreams’ –

‘Sexxx Dreams’ is more than likely one of the handful of songs from the ARTPOP era destined to be hidden gems for Gaga’s true fans. Like ‘Scheisse’ and ‘Dance in the Dark’, songs like ‘Sexxx Dreams’ are just so good that Gaga doesn’t want the general public enjoying them, and I don’t blame her. It’s songs like this that make it great to be a little monster. As Gaga croons to both her imaginary lover and her real lover, it makes for a meeting of pop explosion of pure ecstasy.

Track #5 – ‘Jewels & Drugs’ –

‘Jewels & Drugs’ had potential, especially after Gaga’s genius ‘Cake Like Lady Gaga’ track, but sadly this song falls flat and is easily one of the weakest tracks on the album, even with its guest vocalists. If Gaga is to try her hand at a hip hop/rap crossover again, she should partner up with powerful female rappers to create a girl power anthem that will surely slay.

Track #6 – ‘MANiCURE’ –

‘MANiCURE’ is probably my favorite track on ARTPOP. From the very first second, you’re pulled into an amazing beat, and Gaga’s vocals do the song justice. The song is also mainstream enough (read: not too ‘Gaga’-y) for the general public to appreciate, but I fear it faces the fate of only really being performed for the world on The Muppets Spectacular that Gaga did for Thanksgiving 2013.  It’s easily one of the most catchy songs on the album, and would make for a killer single if done properly.

Track #7 – ‘Do What U Want’

I probably have a bit of a grudge against ‘Do What U Want’, because I feel it got the ARTPOP era off on the wrong foot. While ‘Applause’ did come before it to generate album buzz, ‘Do What U Want’ was the first single released after the album debuted, and it just went wrong in every way imaginable. All the ideas behind the promotion for ‘Do What U Want’ were sound, but alas, they couldn’t make up for the fact that the song is just a bit lackluster compared to Gaga’s full repertoire, or even against the rest of ARTPOP. Gaga is a very talented vocalist and musician, and with the star power she has now earned, she doesn’t need to have features on her tracks, and this is proof. When a Gaga-only version of ‘Do What U Want’ was recently released, it improved the track, but it was too late. If the ARTPOP era never saw ‘Do What U Want’ as a single, it would’ve lost out on great performances, including a duet with Christina Aguilera, but I think it would’ve honestly gone better, had a proper single been chosen in its place.

Track #8 – ‘ARTPOP’-

ARTPOP‘s titular track does not disappoint. It gets a pass for being so artsy-fartsy on the simple fact that it’s a song called ‘ARTPOP’ on an album called ARTPOP, and if you weren’t expecting it to feature lyrics like “Come to me in all your glamor and cruelty” or “Brushes with darkness won’t help you create your destiny”, you’re silly. ‘ARTPOP’ is a great tune, and should be enjoyed as such.

Track #9 – ‘Swine’ –

‘Swine’ is a song that was made for the artRAVE, with its crazy beat and intense vocals making it an enjoyable soundtrack as you thrash yourself about a mosh pit. Gaga certainly knows her audience and keeps in mind that she will eventually be performing the songs off her album live for the fans, and this is one that I know would just be truly spectacular to witness in an arena, surrounded by fans screaming the lyrics and having the time of their life.

Track #10 – ‘Donatella’ –

Lady Gaga’s ode to the upper class and fancy lifestyle she’s acquired makes for another fan favorite. ‘Donatella’ will probably never see single status, but it will more than likely forever be a fan favorite, especially if Gaga and Donatella Versace’s friendship lasts in the years to come. This is Gaga at her finest, boasting about her success and proudly proclaiming that she’s “a rich bitch, I’m the upper class.” Relatable? No. Amazing? Yes.

Track #11 -‘Fashion!’ –

‘Fashion!’ is a bit of a surprising song on ARTPOP because it slows down the tempo. It would’ve been great, in my opinion, if this track came before ‘Dope’ rather than ‘Mary Jane Holland’. The album would flow a lot better this way, with ‘Mary Jane Holland’ bringing a nice end to the pulsating beats and ‘Fashion!’ segueing nicely to the more piano-driven ballads. With that said, ‘Fashion!’ is purely a filler track, and Gaga’s Fame-era song of the same name (but without the exclamation mark) is miles better. Still, ‘Fashion!’ made for a great performance with RuPaul.

Track #12 – ‘Mary Jane Holland’ –

Gaga sings of her love of marijuanna on ‘Mary Jane Holland’, and the result is exactly what you’d think it to be. A euphoric high and insane acid trip all rolled into one. ‘Mary Jane Holland’ is an enjoyable listen, but it probably only sounds so good because it comes right after ‘Fashion!’

Track #13 – ‘Dope ‘-

Ironically, after singing a song about loving drugs, Gaga goes on to a ballad about how they’re not all that. ‘Dope’ is a great track, showing Gaga’s raw emotion. It’s obvious this song has a lot of meaning to her, and while it’s no ‘Speechless’, ‘Dope’ has earned its place in the list of Great Gaga Ballads.

Track #14 – ‘Gypsy’ –

‘Gypsy’ is a fun track with Gaga expressing her love of her fans and traveling the world. Once again, her passion for her art shines through, making ‘Gypsy’ an enjoyable listen and another song that will be a highlight of the artRAVE.

Track #15 – ‘Applause ‘-

Lady Gaga’s first single from the ARTPOP era was ‘Applause’, and it ushered in a new time for Gaga, after her hip injury forcing her to take a needed break from the spotlight. ‘Applause’ is one of the most infectious songs from ARTPOP, and while it is ‘typical’ Gaga, singing of something that at face value seems un-relatable, it’s actually one of the more relatable tracks on the album. Anyone can feel the need and hunger for applause, especially little monsters who the track was obviously made for, and as a result, ‘Applause’ is a catchy track that actually carries some symbolic meaning. The music video for the song only furthers the its greatness, showing Gaga at the height of her artistic side, reveling in the applause.

While ARTPOP may not be Lady Gaga’s best work, it is still head and shoulders above recent releases in the pop world. Those that judge ARTPOP or put it down should realize it is just a testament to the power of Lady Gaga and her talent. The fact that ARTPOP is not her best only goes to show you how good she is, and should remind everyone that Gaga isn’t going anywhere.

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Written by Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is the creator and editor of POParazzi. He works primarily in Washington, DC. You can contact him at sam@poparazzi.org and visit his portfolio at sam-bennett.com.

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