I was incredibly excited about the fact that Lady Gaga was coming out with new music... right up until I heard "Applause." Now, let me be clear about this - I've never liked a single one of her songs right off the bat, but they've always grown on my eventually. I didn't even remotely like "Applause" until I heard they perform it on "Glee" (hint - it's better with male voices for some reason), and I still can't listen to it all that often. Catchy? Hell yes. Loving it? No.
That said, I want to know what she's bringing us this time around. Gaga is one of the most versatile artists I've ever heard, able to do every kind of genre of music on one album. Hold your breath though - the goal here was an album full of hit pop songs. Yikes.
And the Spanish guitar plays us in… unexpectedly. “Aura” gets going, and Gaga takes on her total creep voice. Just when you think there’s something entirely familiar going on, it’s really thrown for a loop as that same guitar bounces off the wall. What exactly did I get myself involved with here? Gaga has always had a flair for the odd, but this is a little out there even for me. And she makes it damn clear that this is the beginning of “Artpop” just but that last insert at the end of the song.
What’s a little weird in this experience is that the songs do sound remarkably similar. Maybe I’m just getting used to Gaga’s style, but“G.U.Y.” doesn’t seem to stray much from the sound of the previous two. I know what’s bugging me – there’s lots of weird little higher-pitched laser sounds and electronic noises that are searing through my head. It gets to hurt a little.
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“Sexxx Dreams” is not one I could ever listen to with my mother, but it’s actually kind of a really cool song musically. There’s a nice melodic element, somehow. The music hits the beats hard, but is a little softer on the ears so you can loose yourself a little more without gaining an incredible headache.
“Manicure” might be the first one I kind of enjoy fully. Though, the concept feels a little strange. Yes, yes, there’s got to be some deeper meaning behind it all. But listen to the way she says it. I mean, It’s sort of weird, right? I’m not the only person who can be hearing it this way. I do appreciate the rock guitar riff over the electronic bass toward the end. And it’s done.
R. Kelly and Gaga teamed up for the second single, “Do What You Want.” This one has grown on me over the weeks on the chart. Still incredibly sexual, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that Gaga is all about the sexual freedom of, well, everyone. And R. Kelly, as insane as he may be, always has had a smooth voice and sounds fantastic. While I’m not sure I want to see a video with the two of them to this song, it sounds pretty good. I’m not sure though if I want to like this approach to lyrics. She’s giving over and he’s going to take it. It’s a little demeaning, but again, freedom and whatnot.
“ARTPOP” is the title track (duh). So I guess this is how we figure out what the heck that means. It’s the lightest song so far. And I love the juxtaposed harmony approach in the bridge – the low and the high all at once. It’s catchy too. But, I don’t know, there’s something lacking here. It’s not a touching song the way I want it to be. It’s just kind of a lull there in the middle of the album.
“Donatella” belongs on a runway, and I’m not just saying that because of the title. The beat would be such an incredibly great walking rhythm. The lyrics are all about fashion and getting ready for the new trends. Yeah, there’s an underlying message about a girl who’s so deeply invested, but you can’t tell me that this wouldn’t make a fantastic runway walk.
And then it moves on to “Fashion,” which brings back a more prominent piano. Thaannnkkk you for that. It’s almost a downright pretty song in a lot of ways. It’s also a song that I feel like oozes self-confidence both for the artist and the listener. This is the first one on the album that I’d want to blast while getting ready because it’s make me feel that good. Damn girl, it’s about time. Only took you about 11 tracks. Anyone else want to yell “WORK IT” to or after this? “Looking good and feeling fine.”
“Mary Jane Holland” is probably something really interesting, and will eventually make for an outstanding character piece a la “You and I.” I look forward to seeing who Mary Jane Holland winds up being. In the meantime though, this is just kind of a meh track for me. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. It hangs there as a filler track until I can see what she makes out of it all.
I had a feeling “Dope” was going to be the slow song. Gaga has a beautiful voice, though she goes into that lower register here that’s kind of hit or miss for her. Some moments are absolutely perfect and beautiful. More often though, they sound strained. Then the like, well, “I need you more than dope” might be an intense declaration of love for some, but for most I think it’s just maybe a little sad. If you look at it from the point of any addiction, okay, cool. Big sweeping love moment. It’s just that the song seems to be meant to sound lovely, and it’s just not really.
“Gypsy” might just hit it right. I really love the lyrics, music, and general letting go dance beat. It’s a song of living life in a crazy way, but knowing that as much as you can do alone, you don’t want to stay that way forever. I can dig that. I could sing this loud, and I bet you could too.
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And for the final song we get the lead single, “Applause.” I have a love-hate relationship with this track. I loved the male voices on “Glee” performing it, and can’t stand Gaga singing it. I also am a little frightened of the video and subsequent performances. And I don’t entirely get the point. It’s loud and kind of fun, and that’s about all this particular song does for me.
Eh. Ugh. That was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. I miss the Gaga of yester-year.