I swear, I didn’t mean to neglect the Diary. Between writing for Nerdophiles and my
personal life, I’ve just been at a loss for what to write here. More personal stuff? Things I don’t get to write about for Nerdophiles? Perhaps more of the latter, which brings us back to Lady Gaga.
I had some fears for ARTPOP as an album when ‘Applause’ came out and was refusing to stick in my head. If this was the lead single, what would that mean for the rest of the album? Was this the end of Lady Gaga?
Well, I’ve had a few months to sit on it and I did end up warming up some to ‘Applause.’ Plus, the iTunes Festival performance she did alleviated some of my fears, but I was still curious as to what the album as a whole would be like. Yeah, I ended up liking Born This Way as a whole, but I rarely ever listen to it all the way through.
Lucky for me, ARTPOP is probably one of the best albums Lady Gaga has released.
I think one of the problems with Born This Way was that it was continuing from the dark lyrical and musical themes from The Fame Monster, but not in the same tight way that existed on the The Fame Monster. There are some amazing songs on the album that I consider some of Lady Gaga’s best songs, such as ‘The Edge of Glory,’ ‘Yoü and I,’ and ‘Marry The Night,’ but the album didn’t feel consistent. Cohesive, yes, but not consistent. ARTPOP manages to be both to the point I constantly find myself accidentally listening to the album when I only mean to listen to a song or two. It doesn’t hit as hard as The Fame Monster, but there’s a similar vibe and strength in ARTPOP. In fact, the only song I really don’t like is ‘Jewels n’ Drugs,’ but mostly because it feels out of place and doesn’t really have a whole lot of Gaga.
Despite listening to this album for a week, I haven’t really settled on a favorite song yet. ‘MANiCURE’ gets a lot of repeats, I have kept up three song loops of ‘Venus,’ ‘G.U.Y,’ and ‘Sexxx Dreams’ for an hour at one point, and I have really warmed up to ‘Do What U Want’ after seeing her performance of it on The X Factor UK. The one line in the whole album that stands out to me though has to be from the title track ‘ARTPOP,’ a song mixing meanings about love and art and how similar they can be. In the pre-chorus, Lady Gaga declares that her “Artpop could mean anything.” Which really is what drives the point of the album being a mix of pop music, art, and real life. We choose to express ourselves through creative means, but what we mean can be interpreted differently to those who listen/watch/read what we create.
So while the album could be about art and the relationship between Gaga and her fans, I think I purposefully read it as an album about love, sex and wanting to be desired.
I kind of got that feeling from ‘Applause’ after listening to Gaga explain it when she said it was less about living for the attention and more about living to make others happy, but it was really driven home at the iTunes Festival with ‘ARTPOP,’ ‘MANiCURE’ and ‘I Wanna Be With You’ (which later became ‘Dope,’ which I will talk about in a bit). However, I kept going back to ‘Sexxx Dreams,’ which I think really drives home the aspect of wanting to be desired from this album. It’s a great pop song on its own and a sexy one to boot. Like… “I probably need a cold shower after this” sexy. However, on a more personal level, I could relate to having a person populate your thoughts (especially when you’re trying to sleep) and wanting to know if they think about you the same way. ‘G.U.Y,’ ‘Venus’ and ‘Do What U Want’ drive this point home even harder. ‘Venus’ and ‘G.U.Y’ especially for invoking the gods and bringing it back to a long time artistic theme.
On the flip side, ‘MANiCURE’ becomes a song about needing to make yourself look good when needing that love drives you to a point of insanity. ‘Mary Jane Holland,’ ‘Fashion!’ and ‘Donatella’ have similar themes.
I think it’s fair to say this album makes me extremely sexually frustrated, but in the best way possible. Maybe that was Gaga’s intention. Maybe it is a metaphor for her relationship with her fans. Maybe it’s a retelling of some mythos I don’t even know about that. That’s the magic of ARTPOP. It could mean anything.
The most straightforward song on this album though is ‘Dope.’ Initially a song titled ‘I Wanna Be With You’ that could have easily been about her fans or a guy, it was rewritten and became a song about Gaga’s struggles with alcohol and drugs. It’s essentially a step nine, with Gaga asking for forgiveness and trying to make amends. From her lover. From her family. From her Monsters. From God. It was jarring at first to hear the song like this, but it’s probably her most personal and emotional song since ‘Speechless’ from The Fame Monster.
While ‘Applause’ is a good album closer, it feels more like an epilogue. ‘Gypsy’ gives me much more closure on the album. In an album that opens with the question ‘Do you wanna see the girl behind the aura,’ ‘Gypsy’ feels like a satisfying ending for this part of the story where Gaga finds someone who accepts that in her. Again, friend, lover, fellow artist, or fan, but it gives a feeling of love. It’s no ‘The Edge of Glory,’ but it gives that sort of feeling to close out ARTPOP. Grand and full of love. Plus, I love the callback to ‘Schieße’ from Born This Way.
The most constant thing I’ve seen in reviews of this album is that this album is uniquely Lady Gaga, and that is so very true. Other pop stars will try their best impression of this album for the next two years, but it can’t be duplicated. Love her, hate her, or mostly indifferent, you can’t deny Lady Gaga is definitely the most unique pop star out there in the current mainstream. She gives herself 1,000% to her art and it shows on ARTPOP. It’s catchy, unique, and crafted around the past while sure to shape the near future. I just wish the app had a bit more to give right now, but there seems to be future plans for that and I look forward to seeing them.
Is it about love and sex? Is it just about art and being an artist? Whether yes or no, that’s the beauty of this album. ARTPOP could be anything, and Gaga leaves it in our hands to interpret it as such.