You know those bands you absolutely loathe – the ones you think you will never like and will do whatever it takes to not hear any of their stuff, then for whatever reason something just clicks, you’re enjoying what you’re hearing, and want to repent your past sins? Avenged Sevenfold was one of those bands and so was Lady Gaga. The first I heard of Lady Gaga was when “Poker Face” came out and I hated it. I thought it was one of the dumbest, most repetitive songs I had heard in a long time and I brushed her off as another cookie cutter pop artist. I didn’t give her much of a chance after.
Oh how wrong I was back then. I can’t really pin-point what exactly changed my mind on her, but here we are today with Lady Gaga’s third album Artpop released.
Lady Gaga’s music succeeds most when it’s stripped down to its core. The song “Speechless” from her 2009 EP The Fame Monster has long been my favorite song of hers because it does away with her usual techno-y pop beats in favor of just her and a piano. Lady Gaga has immense talent and is an incredible singer, so it’s always a shame when she’s hidden behind those beats. Ever since I’ve been hoping she would go in that direction in future albums. 2011’s Born This Way was disappointingly not that album, and while I can’t say Artpop is either, it’s a little bit more in that direction. It has less “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” type songs and more like “Dope,” a song that sounds like it could be from Johnny Cash.
“Do What U Want” is the second single from Artpop and is another one of the more stripped down songs that relies heavily on Lady Gaga’s and R. Kelly’s vocals. Lady Gaga shows off her versatile vocals all throughout the album, peaking in “Dope”. For those who prefer Lady Gaga’s dance floor-fitting pop songs, there’s definitely enough there for you with songs like “Aura,” “G.U.Y.” and “Gypsy.”
Outside of a few really good songs (“Dope”, “Do What U Want”, “Venus”), the majority of Artpop leaves a lot to be desired. “Applause,” the first single from the album, is one of those songs that’s so repetitive that if you hear it more than once it’ll drive you nuts, although one of the three remixes of it (the Viceroy one) does manage to make it better by sounding more laid back. Much of the lyrics are another part of what brings the album down and keeps me from enjoying it more than I feel I could. It’s not that any of them are out right bad, it’s just there’s a lot of moments that left me either scratching my head or rolling my eyes. I don’t get Lady Gaga’s thing for listing stuff, like the names of girls in The Fame Monster’s “Dance in the Dark” and now the planets in “Venus”.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve enjoyed The Fame Monster as much as I have is the length of it. It has eight songs on it totaling around 35 minutes which I feel is perfect. If you were to cut five of the songs on Artpop you’d have a much more concise, memorable, and diverse sounding album. Instead you have a 15 song, hour long album, and when just about every song is in the 3:30-4:00 length, it gets real repetitive real fast.
Despite the flaws I’m still glad that my mind has been changed on Lady Gaga, and there are enough gems in Artpop to keep me wanting more from Lady Gaga. We’ll be getting just that when she and Tony Bennett release a jazz duet album in just a couple months on New Year’s Day.