Thoughts: Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly, 'Do What U Want'
Gaga strikes gold on ARTPOP’s second single “Do What U Want”: I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t applauding too much over Lady Gaga’s first single “Applause” from her upcoming studio album ARTPOP due November 11. It was merely ‘good’ in my opinion, but just didn’t stack up to juggernauts like “Poker Face”, “Bad Romance” or her numerous hit singles. Believe me, I wanted to be ‘gaga’ for Gaga, but “Applause” just wasn’t enough. But fear not fellow Gaga super fans – second single “Do What U Want” easily atones for any un-Gaga-ness that made “Applause” too safe. This ladies and gentlemen is the single that we’ve been waiting for and can once more crown Lady Gaga and guest R. Kelly (shocker!) as the “Gaga of them all”… or something like that!
So many things are irresistibly delicious about “Do What U Want”. First and foremost is that Gaga is among her most assertive I have ever heard her vocally. As I was listening and evaluating the single on rdio.com, I couldn’t help but notice people making comparisons to. I’d agree that Gaga’s grit and powerhouse vocals on this particular cut show her transcending dance-pop in itself, a sub-genre not known for top-notch vocals. Is Lady Gaga Xtina? Of course not and in the regard of ‘lumping’ them as one and the same, that is unfair, but what is an accurate description is that Gaga definitely stepped her game up vocally.
So is “Do What U Want” really just a shallow sex-oriented pop cut? It can be interpreted that way given the suggestive lyrics such as “So do what you want / want with my body…”, but there is a deeper message. If one pays closer attention to all the lyrics, it is best interpreted as a ‘double meaning’, maybe even ‘triple meaning’ depending on how one’s mind tends to wander. Eschewing the simple sexual read, Gaga is suggesting that she’s more than just the ‘body’ that the media seems to be focused on. She’s hence suggesting the media are ‘shallow’ because that’s all their focused on. Because of this particular assertion, she suggests that the media and skeptics can do whatever they want with her ‘body’. Maybe the sexual interpretations are more thrilling, but seems a stretch for Gaga to merely be objectifying herself in man’s eyes for sexual play.
Going back to vocals and such – Yes I know, there’ll be that group that says that she had to considering that R. Kelly is definitely no subtle vocalist, even when he’s his most salacious and outrageous. Honestly, who would’ve ever saw this duet coming? It’s odd enough and unique enough to work. Surprisingly, the vocal chemistry and respective solo performances by both stars are electrifying. Gaga is at her most memorable on verse one when she states “I, I stand up, and then I’m OK / but then you print some sh*t that makes me wanna scream…” as well as her powerful bridge (“Sometimes I’m scared I suppose / if you ever let me go / I would fall apart / if you break my heart / so just take my body / and don’t stop the party.” Kelly stands out on the second verse (“Early mornings, longer nights /, private flights / crazy schedule, fast life / I wouldn’t trade it in, cause it’s our life…”) but definitely creates a stir at the end of his pre-chorus (“…yeah we taking these haters and roughing ‘em up / and we lay in the club like we don’t give a f*ck”). Who would’ve thought it would be a match made in heaven?
As suggested, this song transcends its suggestiveness. If that was the read many folks were adapting, the chorus definitely disproves such a hypothesis: “You can’t have my heart, and / you won’t use my mind but / do what you want (with my body) / do what you want (with my body) / you can’t stop my voice, cause / you don’t own my life but / do what you want (with my body)…” My take? Genius Gaga, bloody genius!
Lady Gaga (featuring R. Kelly) | “Do What U Want” ?Streamline | Interscope | US Release Date: October 21, 2013