Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Make my art pop; ARTPOP by Lady Gaga...

ARTPOP is the third studio album by Lady Gaga, and was released in November 2013 by Streamline and Interscope Records. It debuted at number one in around ten countries, including the UK and America. It entered the top ten in some twenty other countries.
Gaga began planning the project way back in 2011 [shortly after the launch of her second studio album Born This Way]. The majority of the song writing and recording took place over 2012, and into 2013, after Gaga was forced to cancel her Born This Way Ball after breaking her hip. 

During her recovery from surgery Gaga became addicted to marijuana which helped her get relief from the pain of surgery and also to cope with her depression stemming from her forced sabbatical and other personal issues, so there is a bit of darkness hidden behind lyrics of the songs in ARTPOP, which I didn't expect to hear as ARTPOP has been described by Gaga as "a dance record that begs for soul + creativity during a passionless age. Finding passion in plastic. Putting Art into PopMusic". She has also called ARTPOP a "celebration and a poetic musical journey" and an exploration of the "reverse Warholian" phenomenon in pop culture. 

Apparently ARTPOP's calling card is that it displays an intentional "lack of maturity and responsibility" in comparison to her previous work.

Lady Gaga, and her long-time friend Paul "DJ White Shadow" Blair are the main writers and producers on the album. Other track producers and writers include Zedd Hugo, Leclercq, Nick Monson, Rick Rubin, Giorgio Tuinfort, Dino Zisis, Infected Mushroom,, and David Guetta. 

The lyrical themes revolve around her personal views of fame, love, sex, feminism, self-empowerment, overcoming addiction, and reactions to media scrutiny.

I struggled to decide what rating to give ARTPOP; for me it isn't quite as strong as The Fame Monster (I class this as a separate album, rather then a expanded version of The Fame) or Born This Way, but is removing a star a bit too harsh for an album where I can say that I like 13 out of 15 tracks to verifying degrees? 

Plus this album does have more variation in music styles, so it does beat The Fame as far as I'm concerned. The selected singles may not as been the best choices regarding airplay/publicity, but the album sale figures show that the album is far from the flop that some like to call it.

ARTPOP definitely does have solid tracks, with both some new directions such as pop-lite [Gypsy], dipping her toes into hip hop [Jewels N' Drugs], and R&B [Do What You Want], as well as the usual piano-lead ballad we've come to expect on her albums [Dope], and a huge selection of classic 'Gaga' electric pop energy and beats. 

Gaga has a good voice and is a strong song writer, so these creative extras she constantly throws into the mix are just unneeded all of the time as her work is very good and can stand up on it's own without all of the bells and whistles.

At the end of the day I felt as though a star had to go, for two reasons; Lady Gaga wrote and recorded ARTPOP during a period of stress and depression for her, so even the happier tracks have a heavy air hanging over them, which in turn can actually make me feel down too. Also; the experimental button has been pressed a few too many times for my tastes, with the weird vocal and musical effects. There's no major influence for me to put my finger on after the first two tracks, and nothing that outright spoils the later tracks, but there is a mysterious something that niggles me at a few points on the album. Maybe it's just the fact that ARTPOP's opening two tracks are [what I think of as] Gaga's weakest work to date has left a bitter aftertaste for me?

Oh well, I guess everyone has an off day.

1. Aura
2. Venus
3. G.U.Y.
4. Sexxx Dreams
5. Jewels N' Drugs Featuring T.I., Too $hort and Twista
7. Do What You Want featuring R. Kelly
9. Swine
10. Donatella
11. Fashion!
12. Mary Jane Holland
13. Dope
14. Gypsy
15. Applause

The special edition of the album comes with a DVD of Gaga's one hour long iTunes Festival 2013 Performance.

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