November 11, 2013

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Lady Gaga - ARTPOP (Review)

This is the much-awaited 3rd album from the perpetually reinventing singer. Sexuality is the major theme of this album as evidenced by the preponderance of songs dedicated to that subject. Fame, materialism, lust, insecurity, and self-identity were major themes on previous albums, however, some of these do come up here.

Here is an overview of all the songs:

Things begin on a slightly sinister and mysterious note with the "Americano"-esque club track which originally leaked as a demo over the summer. The instrumental production is totally the same however the vocals have been re-recorded, losing some of the fun the original had.

The double entendre laden uptempo about the goddess of love and the planet is a bit messy in its structuring, though it has several great hooks within it.

This sexy electro midtempo is one of the standouts. It has the potential to be a single later on. The hook and pre-chorus are so infectious.

Sexxx Dreams
The provocative confessional midtempo recalls 90s Janet Jackson and Madonna with its naughty and playful vibe.

Jewels N' Drugs (feat. T.I., Too $hort and Twista)
This song is a bit of a departure from her usual as this song combines elements of electropop, trap, and hip hop creating an unusual blend that somehow works.

The Samantha Fox meets Phil Spector track about a man making everything better is enjoyable though it feels like one of the filler tracks from her debut.

Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly) 
This is her latest Ace Of Base throwback that is two tons of fun. The intelligent lyrics and gorgeous vocals on this make it another standout. R. Kelly may seem like an unlikely collaborator for her, but it's perfect.

The Disco meets Hi Nrg "Dance In The Dark"-esque title track is delightful.

The most aggressively-produced song could be interpreted as being about those individuals Gaga encountered who tried to take advantage of her as she was coming up in the music industry.

The ode to fashion designer Donatella Versace is convivial though it is lyrically vapid and trite. There are loads of catchphrases in this one that should be just as ubiquitous as YOLO was last year.

The piano-based 80s inspired song is also seriously lacking in the lyric department, but it is fun.

Mary Jane Holland
The Eurodance referencing midtempo all about marijuana also suffers from some seriously cringe-inducing lines, but this will no doubt be a fan favorite when performed live.

A significantly different version of this was performed at the iTunes Festival under its original title "I Wanna Be With You." The Queen-inspired autobiographical song is about her overcoming addiction opting to go with love instead. The live version was much better overall, however, this is still pretty well done.

This uptempo Power Ballad features one of her greatest vocal performances to date. The lyrics are super relatable and this has the potential to be huge if it were a single later on.

The first single is an appropriate album closer, though it does not really go with the rest of the album.

This is overall a fun album, but it is not quite as cohesive as The Fame Monster or Born This Way, which did cover a variety of sounds and styles, but there was an underlying element that held it together that is noticeably missing here. "MANiCURE", "Donatella", and "Fashion!" end up being the weakest tracks of the bunch due to the lyrics and the production choices, but they are by no means terrible. The changed versions of "Aura" and "Dope" are a tad disappointing given how different the original versions were, but they are still good enough. "Gypsy", "G.U.Y", "Sexxx Dreams", "Do What U Want", and "Venus" are the best of the bunch.

There are plans to make additional tracks from the ARTPOP sessions available through a special app for use on tablets and smartphones. Other exclusive content to be announced will be made available through the app. There are also rumors that a second volume of ARTPOP containing more songs will be released later on.

The album is out today and is available for purchase at all digital music stores and most brick and mortar stores like Best Buy and Target. Walmart only has the edited edition of the album.

Grade: A-


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