Arts & Entertainment

Sound Advice: ARTPOP – Lady Gaga

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After not having any major releases for more than two and a half years (a long turnaround for a pop star), Lady Gaga has returned with a vengeance in her new album ARTPOP, which drops Nov. 11.

She first teased the album one year ago when she tweeted the album name and the concept behind the album: “Your ARTPOP can mean anything.”

Fast forward: “Applause,” the first single from ARTPOP, released in August, has grown to become her biggest radio hit of all time, her longest top-10 hit on iTunes since 2010 and the accompanying video is her 10th that was Vevo certified — meaning it garnered more than 100 million views.

Although ARTPOP doesn’t officially release until Nov. 11, it is now available to stream on iTunes Radio.

The album starts as a fantastical journey through time and space. The first three songs “Aura,” “Venus” and “G.U.Y.” all contain thoughtful but at times out-of-this-world lyrics over a hard-hitting beat. “Let’s blast off to a new dimension (in your bedroom)/ VENUS” comes to mind.

However, there is no denying that ARTPOP is a banger that demands being blasted over loud speakers, which more than makes up for the sometimes odd lyrics.

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“Sexxx Dreams,” the fourth song on the album, is when ARTPOP really hits its stride. If this song doesn’t become a massive hit, something must be terribly wrong. It’s just as catchy as any of her early hits from The Fame and would be at home on mainstream radio. At this point we are reminded why Lady Gaga is as successful as she is: She knows how to craft that perfect radio hit. “Sexxx Dreams” also marks a turning point in the album, when Gaga begins to dabble in different genres.

“Jewels n’ Drugs” (featuring T.I., Too $hort and Twista) represents a foray into rap/hip-hop; “MANiCURE” represents a throwback to rock verses with a catchy pop chorus; and “Do What U Want” (featuring R. Kelly) represents a dip into R&B.

These songs are a high point in the album, with Gaga sounding perfectly in control in each song. This is also the only part of the album when each song sounds like a single you would hear on the radio.

This strongly contrasts with the first three less-than-radio-friendly songs off the album, but this was probably by design, as the early songs all serve as a long intro into the world created by ARTPOP.

The album becomes more experimental and delves further into the idea of what ARTPOP, the concept, can be with the titular song “ARTPOP.” The following songs, “Swine,” “Donatella,” “Fashion!” and “Mary Jane Holland,” sound nothing alike, but at the same time they fit on the album. The album still flows nicely, despite possessing a conglomeration of contrasting sounds during the second half.

Gaga gets away with this because she purposefully used the earlier tracks to dabble in different genres, so by this point she was able to expand on this experimentation without it sounding out of place on the album.

ARTPOP as a concept becomes more clear at this point. It is simply a collection and celebration of all types of music and art. ARTPOP means something different to everyone because everyone has a different collection of music and art that he or she appreciates.

The 13th song, “Dope,” is a piano ballad, keeping with Gaga’s tradition of including at least one piano ballad on each album. “Dope” is the most personal when compared to “Brown Eyes,” “Speechless” and “Yoü & I” from previous albums, making it the hardest to listen to of the bunch. It is definitely the darkest song on ARTPOP, which makes it stick out, but it does do a good job showing off her vocal chops (which can often be overlooked in pop songs).

The last songs on the album, “Gypsy” and “Applause,” serve as the finale. “Gypsy” is an endearing song about her travels since becoming a pop star. Gaga lists all the amazing places she has been able to visit, but says that above it all, there is a single person who keeps her coming home. It’s reminiscent of “The Edge of Glory” from Born This Way. “Applause” closes the album and is a fitting end to the journey that is ARTPOP.

Overall, ARTPOP is a success, especially coming off the heels of the disappointing Born This Way. However, mainstream radio has shifted away from the dance music that dominated the airwaves toward indie and rock hits from artists such as Imagine Dragons and Lorde. For this reason, Gaga may be left unable to land big radio hits.

Even though it is a remarkable album from the forever-evolving Lady Gaga, and will surely see big sales numbers in its first week after being released, don’t expect to hear songs from the album on the radio a year from now.

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