Lady Gaga delivers a solid pop record
Ever since Lady Gaga became one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, the singer has been dealing with huge expectations from the crowd and the press on what she does next. It is almost impossible for her to top the successes of The Fame and The Fame Monster and in terms of quality pop music, it seems hard to ever release a better body of work than the latter. Even though Gaga once again delivered a great pop record with Born This Way, her popularity seemed to have decreased a bit around that release. These days during the release of ARTPOP, again questions arise if Lady Gaga still has ‘it’ or that she lost her magic and her popularity is fading. The simple answer is: no, Lady Gaga is still going strong with releasing great pop music and we should not expect her to come up with something as brilliant as The Fame Monster, every time she releases new music.
Although I do not think we should compare everything she does to her earlier work, I certainly understand people tend to do this and miss the old days where everything she touched turned to gold. She managed to take the world by storm with a fresh image and great banging pop tunes in a very short period of time and of course it is hard to stay at this top for years. Although her new material does not contain tracks of the brilliant level of ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Paparazzi’, there are quite a few great tracks to be found. From here on I am going to talk about ARTPOP as the independent, solid pop album it really is.
The title ARTPOP could make you expect some experimental and avant-garde pop music, but Gaga actually chose to go with straightforward pop bangers again. The album opens with ‘Aura’, the track Gaga debuted in a lyric video with scenes from the Machete movie she is currently starring in. At first listen, I was not convinced, but it turns out ‘Aura’ is a grower. The verses are completely bonkers and noisy, but it gives the track a nice edge and contrasts with the soft and melodically brilliant chorus. Gaga shows she still knows how to write outstanding pop tunes, as evidenced by the already released ‘Venus’, ‘Applause’ and ‘Do What U Want’, which all have catchy choruses and more than one infectious hook throughout the song.
Another highlight is ‘Sexxx Dreams’, that screams to be the next single. It is like Kylie Minogue’s ‘Aphrodite’ and ‘In My Arms’ had a love baby that grew up to be a very cheeky girl and that actually is one of the biggest compliments a perfect pop tune can receive. It is cheery, playful and the chorus is one of the catchiest I have heard in a while. It is quite surprising to me that Will.I.Am actually co-wrote and produced on one of the better tracks on the album. After some disappointing work with Britney Spears and his own group The Black Eyed Peas, I did not expect him to work on a great tune like ‘Fashion!’. There is no noisy production taking over, but it is actually perfectly underlining the strengths of the track. Gaga’s delivery is on point as always and there is nothing pretentious about this track, just a good pop song.
Other good songs are the single worthy proper pop track ‘G.U.Y.’ and the anthemic ‘Gypsy’, that could easily become a hit as well. Despite the fact that ARTPOP is a fairly solid and qualitative pop album there are few tracks that kind of miss the mark. ‘Jewels & Drugs’ could have done with fifteen guest rappers instead of three and it still would have been a poor song. ‘Dope’ is a lovely ballad, which is supposed to show of Lady Gaga’s impressive vocals, but it feels like she thought she needed to prove herself on this one, which makes her voice sound a bit too much and try hard at times. ‘Swine’ has a good hook somewhere, but it is buried under a whole lot of noisy production and beats. Overall, Gaga does not disappoint and shows she is still relevant in pop music, despite what some people might say. Gaga just released one of the better proper pop albums of the year.
Must Listen: Sexxx Dreams, Venus, Fashion!, Do What U Want, Aura, G.U.Y.