ARTPOP or ArtFlop, a Lady Gaga review


courtesy Genius

We are back and now here in the name of Gaga to spread her gospel: ARTPOP. At the height of her career in 2013, post Born This Way era, Lady Gaga released her third studio album ARTPOP. After dominating the early 2010’s pop scene, she decided to push the boundaries of the genre; however, this decision polarized listeners of this time and it did not receive critical acclaim. Still today it is often referred to as “artflop.” Regardless, at Ripples we are here to end this.

Coming back from a hip surgery (due to her previous world tour), this album was a chance for Gaga to explore herself more and differentiate herself from her past music. She even referenced ancient Greek and Roman art and religion throughout the record unlike any other album. A few songs helped to set the stage for the future sub-genre of hyperpop. With this album, Gaga proved that her pop is art. 

The album starts with the track “Aura”. Gaga envisioned this song to be the lead single of ARTPOP, but her record label disagreed.  Outraged that they ignored her, Gaga leaked the demo herself and it spread rapidly. At the end of the day, Gaga got her way, and “Aura” was the first song from ARTPOP to be consumed by the public.

The song starts off with a riff on an Israeli guitar. The riff sounds like something you would hear in a Robert Rodrigo film or one of the Kill Bill movies. This riff is full of anticipation building up with some foot tapping, then a howling sound of “O’s” that makes it eerie. The suspenseful riff foreshadows the coming part, an intense sequence coming, just like action movies.

The first set of lyrics act as a confession. “I killed my former and left her in the trunk on highway 10”. This goes to say how she killed her old self and this album is her reinvention. These lyrics are followed by sets of laughter, as if she is mocking the “crime”. Then the laughter glitches into a beat and finally drops you into the action of the song.

She said in an interview with Sirius XM that this song is referring to how she uses extreme fashion to protect what she holds most dearly: her creativity.

The next song on the album is “Venus”. This was the first song she had ever produced by herself. Centering around Greek mythology, planets, and spirituality, this spiritual theme allows Gaga to explore a lot of intense experiences.

The song’s lyrics are her questioning what love is to her as she pleads to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. After this song, Aphrodite becomes a staple reference throughout the album.

The song first takes you with an astronaut-like announcement with a punchy beat. The next line “Let’s blast off to a new dimension, in your bedroom,” shows how she uses her sexuality as a spiritual exploration. It changes to an ascending-like sound, to mimic a blast off. In the bridge, Gaga names all the planets, but this isn’t your average solar lesson. She commands the planets to serve the gods and the stars, leading up to the celestial beat drop before the final chorus. 

Next we have “G.U.Y.” standing for Girl Under You. Gaga, the camp icon starts the track off with “Lay back and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions.” Referring to her own song as an audio is so camp of her. 

Exploring her sexuality throughout the song, it may seem like Gaga is powerless in this relationship because it’s heavily about submission. But it’s contradicted by the lyrics “I’m aiming for full control of this love”. This is about how love and seduction is empowering to her. She doesn’t need to have direct control to know her power. 

MANiCURE” is one of the most catchy and upbeat songs on the album. In this one, Gaga describes preparing to go out and catch someone to fool around with. She uses a clever play on words with “MANiCURE”, meaning Gaga is getting an actual manicure but that she also needs to be ‘man cured.’ This either means that she needs a man to make her feel better, or she needs a woman to cure her of men for the moment. Either way, she’s gonna have fun. This need to be cured could be alluding to her drug and alcohol addiction she was overcoming while writing this album. The song ends with a transcendent electric guitar riff played over a trap beat that is almost too good a way to end the song.

ARTPOP” (the song), has a futuristic mood, it’s a good palate cleanser for the album as it’s not as chaotic. 

Gaga said in an interview with Sirius XM that “It’s really a metaphor for love, between me and my fans; if we can belong together, then maybe art and pop can belong together, in that order.” Her devotion and inclusion of her fans in this album was an adorable way to show her love. 

She takes the word art pop in this song and makes it more of a concept. Artpop is a state of mind, which is an important focus of the album.

In the ninth song from ARTPOP, “Swine”, Gaga sings a callout to people who objectify and want to abuse others.In the chorus, full of rage, she sings “You’re just a pig inside a human body,” rightfully comparing them to being an animal due to their actions. This perhaps is a reference to the Greek story of Circe, a goddess who transformed men into pigs when they took advantage of her. Using a synthesizer, Gaga created an avant-garde beat drop that sounds like something of the hyperpop genre five years before this genre even formed. Gaga has been in the fashion spotlight since she’s been in the public eye, most memorable with her meat dress in 2010

With “Donatella” and “Fashion!” Gaga sings two songs as an ode to the fashion industry. The former track referring to Donatella Versace serves as a critique on model culture and the unattainable stereotypes they often uphold. This song also describes the euphoric feeling of being the person everyone looks to and wants to be. In “Fashion!” Gaga serves another confidence boosting track about the exhilaration one gains from looking their best. She sings that when she steps into the world of fashion she owns the world. I think many people can relate to this feeling when they look and feel their best. 

In contrast to the upbeat nature of the rest of the album, Gaga slows it down with a piano ballad in “Dope”. Despite being out of place, doesn’t every pop girl need at least one ballad per album? Although not a favorite song from Artpop, Gaga still gave us a solid song. The track is about her relationship with her fans, and how they helped her overcome her addiction to drugs and alcohol. The lyrics “I need you more than dope,” show how much Gaga loves her fans. During a live performance of this song she changes the lyrics to “forgive me monsters won’t you” pleading her fans (called little monsters) to forgive her for her mistreatment of her own health.

You have probably heard of “Applause” on the radio at some point in the 2010’s but it’s time to revisit it. 

“Applause” was written while Gaga was on tour, she had an undiagnosed broken hip and well being in agony she started to write “Applause”. Gaga expressed that it was hard for her to perform and get through each concert from the pain in her hip. Her motivation through it all was of course, little monsters. She lived for their applause, duh.

The obvious choice of clapping in the background makes it a very interactive song. Then another signature of Gaga is added to the song; spelling! As generic as it might sound, this aspect adds a lot more depth to the song. The theme of this song is definitely something I think we all can relate to. Wanting and living for the validation of one’s passions.

Then, capping the song and album off with spelling ARTPOP, giving the final closure of the album.

ARTPOP is the pinnacle hype album; it could put anyone in good spirits, make one jump back into their nostalgia of the 2010’s and appreciate Gaga and the celebration of her nine year anniversary. Give ARTPOP a chance and you will fall in love with it, just as we did.