[title size=”1 to 6″ style=”options: default, sidebar”]Letter Grade: B-[/title]
In high school, I was a huge Lady Gaga fan. As a self-proclaimed “drama nerd” (I was one of those kids), I loved how crazy and theatrical she was. She encouraged me to be weird (honestly, I already was) and to be proud of it. And she was anti-bullying! Like me! And pro-gay rights! Like me! And I loved (and still really enjoy) The Fame and Born this Way. But her new album, Artpop, has a completely different feel. It’s not about being weird and being you. It’s mostly about sex. And while that’s fine, it feels like a big departure from her other work. It makes you want to dance, but not because you’re special and amazing just the way you are. Now, Lady Gaga wants you to dance for other people.
In her first song, “Aura,” she sings “Do you wanna touch me, lover? / Do you wanna be good beneath the covers?” Lady Gaga has never hidden her sexuality, but this album has taken it a step further. Instead of celebrating her sexuality, sexuality defines her. Other lyrics, like “Don’t you know my ass is famous?” (in “Venus”) show that Lady Gaga has become more like other pop stars. Yes, she’s weird, but she’s no longer as creative. The songs on this album sound like more angry versions of other pop songs. The most shocking part of the album is the way she says “Uranus” in “Venus.”
However, that is not to say that the album is not enjoyable. As always, Lady Gaga sings poppy, fun, easy-to-dance-to songs. Artpop is a bit darker than her other work, but that could be seen as part of Gaga’s artistic progression from The Fame to Born this Way, each album getting darker, as she grows as an artist.
“Manicure,” the sixth song on the album, channels Joan Jett with a solid bass drum beat and rock star attitude. Electronic sounds are also very prominent in this album, especially in the track “Swine.” Gaga also uses sound effects in order to create a mood for the album, like the clinking of a glass that precedes “Donatella.” This sound is followed by a spoken introduction by Gaga. “I am so fab,” she states, “I am so fab. Check out. I’m blonde, I’m skinny, I’m rich, and I’m a little bit of a bitch.”
Lyrics like this point to a Lady Gaga that does not want to be taken seriously. This is a contrast with her earlier work, in which Gaga seemed to plead to be taken seriously. This is an album of self-promotion and sex, but that does not stop it from being enjoyable. Artpop is lacking the message that I loved about her other albums in high school, but I continue to enjoy her music.