sun 22/09/2019

CD: Lady Gaga - ARTPOP | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Lady Gaga - ARTPOP

CD: Lady Gaga - ARTPOP

Can the queen of pop's latest match her spectacular media presence?

Lady Gaga, cracked Aphrodite

Lady Gaga is many times more imaginative, intriguing and entertaining than her pop peers. Rihanna, Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, Jessie J, Miley Cyrus, et al - she beats the lot of ‘em, hands down. It’s always a pleasure when she arrives back into the fray, when she starts courting the media for her latest project. Her world is informed by avant-garde art, extreme fashion, literature, underground gay culture and much more. She martials it into a mesmeric melee of narcissism, performance art and high kitsch (ARTPOP’s cover, for instance, was created by Jeff Koons). What’s more, while she has her panel of advisers – Haus of Gaga - she seems very much her own woman rather than acting as a flesh-candy cash cow for some cynical, male backroom team.

Thus it gives me no pleasure to report that her third album is her weakest. Where her last one, Born This Way, rode in on a wave of Teutonic techno spliced with ace synth-pop on nuggets such as “Judas” and “Americanos”, ARTPOP bangs relentlessly but lacks tunes. There’s also a tedious obsession with submissive sex. Even seasoned with splashes of classical mythology the porno chic wears thin on songs such as masturbatory fantasy “Sexxx Dreams” or “G.U.Y.”, with its repeated wish “to be the girl underneath you”. And then there’s the single “Do What You Want” which requests we “do what you want with my body” and features the biggest sleaze in pop, R Kelly. Of course, being Gaga-land some of this can be read as coded messages regarding her relationship with fame and the media. Unfortunately, whatever it is, it’s not hugely memorable.

There are moments when she lights things up. The Joan Jett-goes-to-G.A.Y. pumper “MANiCURE”, the funk-step bounce of “Fashion!”, the stomping camp Versace tribute “Donatella”, the preposterous B-movie electro-pop epic "Aura", and the magnificently disdainful “Swine” with its refrain “I know, I know, I know, I know you want me/You’re just a pig inside a human body, Squeal-ah, squeal-ah, squeal-aaachhh, you’re so disgusting.” Overall, however, there’s little pacing and variety. Both her previous albums have been patchy but fun. This one, despite the presence of a crunk apocalypse, featuring hip hop stars TI, Too Short and Twista, and a Rick Rubin-produced piano ballad, just doesn’t quite get away with it.

Overleaf: watch the Robert Rodriguez-directed video for "Aura", inspired by and including clips of his film Machete Kills. This is proper Gaga!

Even seasoned with splashes of classical mythology the porno chic wears thin

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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Artpop is her best album.

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