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Lady Gaga, ‘ARTPOP’: Track-By-Track Review

 By Peri Cooper, Irvine | December 08, 2013 5:43 PM PST

iTunes: $14.99

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Genres: Dance, Electronica/EDM, Pop, Trap, Rap, Hip-Hop

Top Tracks: Gypsy, Aura, Do What U Want, Venus, Applause (save your money and star these tracks on Spotify)

These are my five top tracks for Lady Gaga’s new album, ARTPOP, from worst to best.  ARTPOP is a creative attempt that colors outside the lines of the kind of pop music most fans have heard this year (ie Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry).  Like Gaga herself, this album is full of surprises. However, it is by no means a perfect album—it has its hits and misses.  But even where it misses, the effort is still apparent.  Here is the best of ARTPOP:

 

5. Do What U Want

Do What U Want live https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgaWc3vxOhE

 

R. Kelly joins the pop princess on this song.  Released as the second official single of ARTPOP, this song is a good example of a dance song with a message.  If you ignored Gaga’s twitter storm about how she felt rejected by society for judging her recent weight-gain last September, then this song is simply a coy invitation for the man to “Do what you want, what you want with my body.”  However, with the author’s interruption, it becomes clear that this song has a double-entendre lying beneath the lines.  “You can’t have my heart and/You won’t use my mind but/Do what you want with my body.”  She proclaims her independence and strength in regards to the media, “Write what you want/Say what you want about me/If you’re wondering/Know that I’m not sorry.”  The melody is also pretty unforgettable, especially the verse melodies.  I’d say this is one of the most melodic, sing-able songs on ARTPOP.

4. Venus

Venus audio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP3ctBs3510

Venus is the track that follows Aura, taking the listener into a David Bowie-esque planet, a flashback to Ziggy Stardust in the 1970s.  “Rocket number nine takeoff to the planet” Gaga sings for the first line.  The chorus is playful and uses doube-entendre that may or may not be detectable, depending on how one listens to it; “Cuz you’re out of this world/Galaxy, space, and time/I wonder if this could be love.”  The pre-chorus’s 80s synth and Gaga’s syncopation as she repeats “Take me to your planet, take me to your leader,” brings to mind Michael Jackson’s Disney attraction Captain Eo and the space-age music that accompanied the short film, and the melodious chorus of “When you touch me I die, just a little inside” is a nice follow-up to the rhythmic precursor.  Overall, Venus is a tounge-and-cheek poke at Gaga’s sexual prefreneces sung over an ever-changing landscape of dance electronica beats. A catchy space-age tune.

3. Applause

Applause official video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pco91kroVgQ

Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is the song we’ve all been hearing invade the radio waves the past few months.  “Applause” had the hefty task of living up to the media and the fans’ expectations of Gaga’s “comeback” since the cancellation of her Born This Way tour due to a hip injury.  And it doesn’t disappoint.  From the start, we hear the infectious riff of a dance synth.  This is followed by Gaga’s proclamation, “I stand here waiting for you to bang the gong/To crash the critics saying, ‘Is it right or is it wrong?’’  The voices of David Bowie and Lady Gaga are indistinguishable at this point.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then David Bowie must be pretty damned flattered.  But as much as Gaga is channeling one of her influences, she makes the song her own with the chorus, asking her listeners to “Give me that thing that I love”.  That thing, of course, is applause. 

2. Aura

Aura audio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zssVFHJuMyQ

Featured in the action flick Machete Kills, ARTPOP’s first track, “Aura,” demands your attention.  The guitar winding down its strings in the beginning is very different.  Aura sounds like 3 songs in one, but it works.  As a listener, you’re never bored.  It is lyrically diverse, if not at times confusing.  From Hollywood glamour; “I killed my former friend/Left her in the trunk on highway ten/ Put the knife under the hood/If you find it, send it straight to Hollywood” to a proclamation of love; “Do you wanna see me naked, lover?/Do you wanna peek underneath the covers?”, “Aura” is a mish-mosh of lyrical ideas.  Gaga is famous for wanting to confuse her audience so they listen to her songs over and over until they “get it” (Vanity Fair).  In one of the verses, Gaga rasps about wearing a Burqua over a cesspool of EDM beats (think LSD meets Pakistan).  Overall, although it starts drastically different than it ends, Aura is a great start to Gaga’s new album. 

1. Gyspy -

Gypsy live on The Muppets https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7LZfKWeleo

 

This is by far the best song on the album.  It’s a shame she has not released it as a single, but hopefully she will soon.  The lyrics are well written, as is the melody, and the structure keeps the listener on their toes.  The slow beginning of Gypsy recalls the Elton John ballad “Levon”.  The typical verse-chorus structure is interrupted by various interludes and dance breakdowns, throwing the unexpected at the listener and keeping them engaged.  It’s the most heart-felt song on the album, a song no doubt about her travels and the loneliness and wonder one feels living the “Gyspy life”.  Gaga sings in the chorus, “I don’t wanna be alone forever, but I can be tonight/I don’t wanna be alone forever, but I love gypsy life/I don’t wanna be alone forever, maybe we can see the world together”.  This song could be sung in concert as a show-stopping ballad or played in a club and pool dancers to the floor.  Like Cher’s 1998 hit “Strong Enough”, Lady Gaga’s “Gypsy” starts out slow and builds to an explosive dance chorus, with equally good lyrics to match.  If anything, “Gypsy” may not be the most publicized track on ARTPOP, but it is, in my estimation, ‘strong enough’ to stand the test of time.

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