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10 Takeaways from Lady Gaga’s ‘ARTPOP’

Brent Faulkner Brent Faulkner
11/15/2013 12:00am EST


What this Brent? Another post about Lady Gaga? Yes, and get over it! I realize I’ve already penned a lengthy, analytical review for Lady Gaga’s latest effort ARTPOP, but this particular album, like any Lady Gaga album always leaves plenty or room for analysis.  And perhaps you found my colorful take on ARTPOP too lengthy, so here’s a summarization, of sorts.  ARTPOP has been drawing mixed reviews from what I can gather, evidenced by its 60s Metacritic aggregate.  Even given the mixed view some of us share about this album, there is still plenty of fascinating takeaways, which I’ll colorfully convey right now.  “Get ready, get ready get ready!”

1. She wants “art” and “pop” to work as a unified force.

Lady Gaga-20131031-66Well, the album first is entitled ARTPOP, which combines the words “art” and “pop”.  Often, neither is a word associated with the other, particularly by skeptics who have some critical things to say about modern pop in particular.  On “ARTPOP” (the song), Gaga references both the combo and unlikenesses with lyrics such as “A hybrid can withstand these things / my heart can beat with bricks and strings / my ARTPOP could mean anything” or the repetitive chorus lyrics “We could, we could belong together (ARTPOP).”   Like many Lady Gaga lyrics, you can come up with multiple interpretations of what Gaga is saying.

2. She likes her records slick with plenty of ear-catching music. 

As a music journalist and critic, I like to read what others have said about what the same products and genre of music I am reviewing.  Generally, one of the flaws about dance, electronic, or dance-pop albums is that the songwriting (lyrics) and vocals don’t always match the slickness of the production.  At times, the highlighting feature of ARTPOP is the production itself.  Sometimes instead of crafting a truly moving song, it seems Gaga and producers are equally if not more concerned about sound itself, hence making ARTPOP at times more of a ‘records’ album versus a ‘songwriter’s’ album.  The production, in all honesty, doesn’t miss a step.

3. She enjoys sex. 

Understatement of the year.  Gaga devotes numerous songs and specific lyrics to the three letter word.  “Aura” provides the first taste of sensualness when taken literally (“Do you wanna see me naked, lover? / do you wanna peek underneath the cover?”). “Venus”  definitely doesn’t seem to be solely referring to the planet, but rather to females  as well as possibly and oddly the female anatomy.  You just never know with Gaga. On “G.U.Y.”, Gaga proclaims “I wanna be the girl under you (oh yeah),” which is definitely a double entendre if I ever heard one.  On “Sexxx Dreams”, Gaga is honest about her fantasies and self-stimulation while on “MANiCURE”, she’s definitely not worried about her nails getting did.  Even “Do What U Want” has a sexual element about it, if you read into the chorus literally (“Do what you want with my body…”).

4. She’s a modern day feminist through and through. 

Lady Gaga-20131030-4“Venus” is among the first instances of this new feminism that Lady Gaga touts.  “Donatella” is the perfect example, where Gaga sounds fierce and charged up “I am so fab, check out / I’m blonde, I’m skinny / I’m rich, and I’m a little bit of a b*tch.”  Also, “Do What U Want” also has the female empowerment thing going on: “You can’t have my heart and / you won’t use my mind but…you can’t stop my voice, cause / you don’t own my life but…”  Gaga is definitely embracing the female during ARTPOP.

5. She could care less what you do to her body. 

The previous takeaway goes right along with this one.  Gaga doesn’t care what people say about her physical appearance because “You can’t have [her] heart…won’t use [her] mind…can’t stop [her] voice…don’t own [her] life…”  Basically, she’s more than her body, which also likely includes her ‘stunning’ wardrobe.  Even though she drops “Donatella” and “Fashion”, Gaga makes sure that her following knows she’s ‘more than material’.

6. She seems to (possibly) have / have had some substance/drug issues.  

Gaga alludes to drug and substance issues, depending how you read into things.  On her hip-hop number “Jewels & Drugs”, she claims “don’t want your jewels, I want your drugs…”, later going on to say “I admit that my habit is expensive / and you may find it, quite offensive / but I won’t die at the hands of another…” Figuratively, ‘drugs’ certainly seems to be how much effort Gaga puts into pleasing fans and that because she grinds so hard she’d be the one that ended her own life. Literally, we know drugs aren’t cheap.  “Mary Jane Holland” definitely seems to titularly allude to weed. “Dope” definitely has substance abuse in mind: “I promise this / drink is my last one / I know I fucked up again / because I lost my only friend…”

7. She enjoys double and triple meanings when it comes to lyrics.

Lady Gaga-20131025-101Gaga seems like she can both be a clever songwriter as well as a perverted one.  “Do What U Want” seems like it is a song initially about a woman willing to let a man have her and use her sexually any way he wishes.  Ultimately though, this cut seems less sexual compared to it colleagues, delivering a message of empowerment… sorta.

8. She’s all about fashion. 

“Donatella” referring to Donatella Versace and “Fashion” referring to fashion, DUH (“Walk into the light / display your diamonds and pearls in light…”).  Maybe Gaga doesn’t care about “jewels” or “what you do to her body”, but she still goes hard when it comes to dressing up… in her own Gaga way of course.

9. She is human, or at least has some human qualities.

Well there are actually numerous references.  On “G.U.Y.”, she Lady Gaga-20131113-58both wants her man to hold her down and well, do it...  On “Sexxx Dreams”, she fantasizes just like everyone else in the world.  On “MANiCure”, she wants good love making from a “man” to “cure” her ails.  Less sexually driven, on “Swine”, Gaga is totally pissed off and name calls.  Finally  on “Dope”, her man transcends her demons, which is apparently “dope”. 

10. Even though she shows her ‘humanness’, she’s still indigenous to another planet.  

ARTPOP is all-over-the-map, period.  Both “Aura” and “Venus” are off-putting starters for the album, though also alluring.  While “Swine” is emotionally-driven, it is also manic as albeit.  And as good as “ARTPOP” is as a song, it is also not your typical, straightforward song.  Gaga is still not terrestrial.


Filed under: Dance-Pop, Electronic, Feature, Music, Pop, Pop Culture, Reviews
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