After more than a year of wading knee deep in the hoopla of Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP, the most anticipated album of 2013 has finally arrived. With all the speculation and hyperbole swirling around this release, you may be wondering if Gaga’s endgame was worth the wait. The answer to that question may best be answered by the theatrical pop provocateur herself within her own lyrics “Enigma pop star is fun/It’s not a statement as much as just a move of passion” (“Aura”) and “Lay back and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions” (“G.U.Y.”).
Touted by many as the must have album of 2013, ARTPOP is a multi-genre musical spectrum that boldly infuses EDM, R&B, and rock with joy, rage, and vulnerability. Its true brilliance is discovered only when you fully immerse your mind and ears into the sum of all its parts, which when combined together, take you on a conceptualized journey through Lady Gaga’s world of dance, sex, art, pop, and technology.
Inspired to make the kind of record she’d like to listen to with friends, Gaga’s party opus is raging with mad beats, anthemic choruses, and a phantasmagoric album cover. Although it’s doubtful ARTPOP‘s lyrics will stop global warming or result in world peace, they are cunningly veiled to entice you into contemplating their deeper connotations.
Unpredictably, recurrent collaborator RedOne is only credited here on one track, with the bulk of material composed and co-produced with DJ White Shadow, Madeon, and Zedd. Perhaps RedOne’s input could’ve nixed ARTPOP‘s one and only massive hiccup, “Jewels N’ Drugs” (featuring T.I., Too Short, and Twista). Not only does this bland hip-hop attempt sound like an outtake from The Fame, it also abruptly dampens the album’s vibe and disrupts its otherwise flawless sequential flow, especially as it appears immediately after the dance pop genius of “G.U.Y.” and “Sexxx Dreams,” which sound uncannily like the rebellious teenage love children of Prince and Mariah Carey.
Fortunately, things quickly get back on track with the 1-2-3 punch of the manic “MANiCURE,” which details an obsessive love that can only be sated by a night of hot and lusty sex, followed by the R. Kelly duet “Do What U Want” and climaxing with the transcendent dreaminess of the title track, in which Gaga confesses “The melody that you choose can rescue you.”
During the drug and alcohol penance “Dope” (inspired by the cancellation of the final leg of the Born This Way Ball and originally debuted during her iTunes Festival set as “I Wanna Be With You), Gaga delivers her most honest and vulnerable vocal performance to date while belting out the sparse, emotionally raw ballad, which sounds equally impetuous and remorseful.
Gaga recently described ARTPOP as “reverse Warholian” and “music for music junkies,” which sums up the album quite effectively. With its genre-blurred edges and Spaghetti Western intro, it’s a musically chaotic hodgepodge as unique as the artist herself; edgy, inventive, and multifaceted. Although arguably ostentatious and extreme, there’s no denying ARTPOP is a sexy and seductive, yet quirky slice of pop nirvana that only Lady Gaga could serve up.