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Lady Gaga's "ARTPOP" Reviewed

art for pop’s sake

ARTPOP  sounds like Lady Gaga’s version of Madonna’s Music, a breather and a makeover, but with everything just a little better. Already significantly superior to Born This Way, it may well end up being a Thanksgiving Turkey before Thanksgiving is here and I am not sure why musically.

The overall impression, certainly after a devastating takedown from the Examiner, is that ARTPOP us unlistenable and I quite like it: the first eight songs are pretty good art disco,  then it gets a little too full of itself, till the last two songs bring it home nicely.

I am a fan, but not a big fan, of Gaga. I panned both Born This Way and the live show, I wasn’t overly fond of the ITunes festival gig, though what I loved on it, I love live and what I disliked is maybe a touch better . I hate the serious Gaga, I hate that her camp lacks irony, but “Aura”, “Manicure”,  “Artpop”,  “Gypsy” and “Applause” are all fast on their feet, “Gypsy” is one of her best songs since “Telephone”, and “Applause”, which didn’t stiff, deserved to have spent the past three months playing pass the top spot with Miley and Katy.

She didn’t and then her next two songs,  “Venus” and “Do What You Want”, neither of which are faves by the way, failed to dent the charts, and now, on the eve of the album dropping, and with the fear of a major disaster in the air, Gaga has fired her manager Troy Carter. Not the smartest of moves, right?

And while ARTPOP might well stiff, it isn’t a bad album at all. Much better than Prism, even if stuff like “Swine” doesn’t cut it and “Dope” is not the best ballad she has… actually, it is somewhat typical, but I don’t much care for her ballads any way.

From the beginning, from “Aura” with its doctored acoustic notes and vibey vocal, seems to shed its clothes and batter up at the same time. The impression is that this time we are going to get closer to Lady Gaga and while that is certainly a trick she is performing, still there are times here where this is Lady Gaga about as unplugged as you’ll find. R. Kelly has dragged me for nearly a decade now and “Sex Dreams” is too obvious even by the obviousness of EDM. But that’s almost nitpicking, there are only two unmitigated disaster here, and she moves past them.

I realize “Dope” might mean a lot to what remains of the Little Monsters, the rest of the world wonders what she is going on about but that isn’t the problem here. The problem is that as a multi-media Queen she seems to be losing her storyline. It is becoming more and more difficult to stand out and if Lady Gaga is already past it what will save her? Gaga has done everything right, iuncluding touring nonstop for years, but she seems to have retreated on some fronts. Perhaps with a her good romance her need for fan adoration has changed till she is at a place where she doesn’t really need it the way she did. The infatuation isn’t the same. She feels like another pop product, better though not difference than Katy Perry. She is in the sad position where she plays the VMAs and nobody even remembers.

But there is only one  problem with ARTPOP , Gaga keeps on trying to top herself while this album is actually an act of consolidation, there’s a huge gap between what she says she’s doing and what she is actually doing. We come to it through fields of hype  and what we get  doesn’t live up to anything. With the right touch, a lot lighter than we’ve been getting, this could well sing like a birdy-birdy-birdy, but Gaga weighs herself down with greatest pop star of all time stuff. The truth remains, prime Madonna was always better than prime Gaga, and prime Michael Jackson was better than either.

But in 2013, ARTPOP is  a fine exercise in popular  EDM.

Grade: B+

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