3:32 min • Interscope Records • August 12, 2013
Andrew Darley reviews
In 2011, Lady Gaga admitted in an interview with Anderson Cooper that she feels “people take me too seriously and not seriously enough”. The album that followed the interview was Born This Way. Self-touted as the best work she had written to date, the album was ambitious; infusing aggressive dance pop with industrial music, mariachi, disco, house and heavy metal. Meanwhile her self-empowering lyrics and vocals finally showcased her abilities as a singer that had yet to be captured on record. However, the album was met with immense scrutiny from fans and critics alike. Accusations of plagiarism, disappointment with single choices, disdain of her ostentatious fashion choices led to the general public’s waning interest. The era accumulated in a serious performance injury that forced her to cancel the rest of her tour. It was an unexpected twist in her career which had been at a peak following her triumph of her worldwide Monster Ball tour and now signature songs ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Telephone’. The verdict: Lady Gaga is over.
Fast forward a few months and the avant-garde pop star is ready to fight back and silence her detractors with a new album, ARTPOP. The record has been three years in the making and is set to be a multimedia experience with app software interaction. Explaining the inspiration of the album, ARTPOP will be a “reverse Warholian expedition”. It’s no secret that Andy Warhol has been one of Gaga’s key muses and this album sets to be her most thorough reference and interpretation of his work yet: bringing art into pop culture, in the way he infamously brought pop culture into art. Put finely, it’s a big aspiration.
The first step of her mission is the lead single from the album, ‘Applause’. First single choices are crucial in getting an album off the ground and into public consciousness. Gaga has boxed clever in choosing a song with a radio-ready chorus and electronic pop quirks that she is known for. The lyrics speak of the exchange and energy she feels between her fans when performing on stage. The song ticks away with a heavy drumbeat, before wrapping a cord around our neck with the super catchy “I live for the applause” bridge and a thundering high-energy chorus. It’s tone is strikingly different to her last album; it’s fun, upbeat and playful.
Produced by Lady Gaga and DJ White Shadow, who helmed a number of songs on Born This Way, ‘Applause’ is an unashamedly direct pop song with exciting production nuances, yet fails to venture beyond the mainstream EDM of recent years. But maybe that’s the point? Grab her audience’s attention once again with an unavoidably catchy pop song before expanding on its greater meaning. Nearly every single of her career so far has had its meaning developed, extended and executed through its accompanying music video, visuals and live performances. Take ‘Paparazzi’ for example. It could easily be listened to as a simple song of love-at-a-distance. However, its sinister video and follow-up performances were vehicles to its more complex, underlying connotation of the desperate acts people endure to achieve fame and the voyeuristic nature of the public. ‘Applause’ almost acts as a mission statement of her aesthetic so far: “Pop culture was in art, Now art’s in pop culture in me”.
This single is just the first taste of what is in store with ARTPOP. It counteracts the negative spell of her career over the last two years and should give her fans and public something to get excited about and dance to. ARTPOP’s first single is just one small stroke of a much bigger painting.