The following is a guest article by Sam Lowy.
Lady Gaga has turned herself into one of the most iconic pop stars of our generation. There really is no debating the fact that Gaga is one of the most diverse and entertaining celebrities in the media. Known for her commentary on pop culture and the "fame monster," Lady Gaga has been one of the few celebs to turn the entertainment community on its head. Her past albums, which have all been huge successes, have all had a similar theme regarding such matters, but with her newest release, ARTPOP, has the controversial artist finally beaten the horse dead?
With her debut single of the record, "Applause," Gaga continues her satirical commentary of fame, stating she "live[s] for the applause," and "the way that [we] cheer and scream" for her, and while the song is somewhat catchy, in the end it really just seems to fall flat. Without any truly deep or inspiring lyrics, the listener is left with an instrumental track that is, again, lacking of any real substance. The song is honestly quite weak on all accounts and is just a regurgitation of past Gaga themes of fame and culture.
"Do What U Want" featuring R. Kelly is another example of slaying the slain as the two artists sing about sex and rock ‘n' roll. Despite the fact that the two use their powerful voices to sing "Do what you want with my body" over and over again, the track doesn't really seem to go anywhere. At all.
One thing that the album does have going for it is its use of incredible production value. The first track on the record, "Aura," features the dominating production from EDM superstar Zedd, who uses his signature distorted synthesizer samples and glitch-hop timing throughout. Honestly, I think this track would be sick without Lada Gaga's vocals on top.
Zedd makes another appearance on "G.U.Y." and "Donatella," both of which use more of his well-known guttural synth lines mixed with an 8-bit harpsichord sound that, again, makes the track stand out over the vocals of Lady Gaga.
One of the most impressive and standout tracks on the entire album is "Jewels N' Drugs" featuring T.I., Too $hort, and Twista. Featuring production from Blair, Monson, and Zsis, this track is a trap-inspired masterpiece that is really the only sign of risk from Gaga on ARTPOP. Tracks like "Mary Jane Holland," and "Swine," also prove this EDM-inspired movement Gaga seemed to be attempting to make on the record. Although, again, I have to admit, most of these songs would probably be better sans Gaga.
Overall, the album really doesn't show any growth from Lady Gaga and really seems to be relying solely on top-notch producers like Zedd, Madeon, and Will.i.am. Without any substantial lyrics or emotions, ARTPOP falls flat compared to not only other Lady Gaga albums, but most of the albums released in 2013. Themes like celebrity, pop culture, and "drugs, sex, and rock n roll," are getting old, especially when your approach is to mock them. We get it, Gaga, you're famous and you think it's weird so you do weird things to counterbalance your fame. Pushing the boundaries is fun sometimes, but when you do it just to do it, it loses its allure.
While there seems to be no upcoming tour dates in the United States, Lady Gaga will be traveling through Europe and Australia for some exclusive ARTPOP shows. For more information on Lady Gaga, check her out on Facebook.
Sam is a musician, writer, actor, and comedian. He enjoys a nice cup of coffee and a good camping trip. Check out more of his work over at CrookedManners.com.