Lady Gaga’s ‘ARTPOP’ is almost great

Lady Gaga ARTPOP
This is an iconic album cover for a not-quite iconic album.

The expectations for “ARTPOP,” Lady Gaga’s first full album of new material in two years, were almost as high as the singer recently admitted to being. (She told radio host Elvis Duran earlier this week that during a period of “pot addiction” she was smoking 15 to 20 joints per day).

It may be because in 2013, the way to release an album is to drop it on fans with very little warning. Where some of 2013′s best albums, like “Yeezus” or “Reflektor,” came with scarce and cryptic details leading up to their releases, Gaga surprisingly went the traditional route, leaking major spoilers to her little monsters almost every step of the way.

That said, “ARTPOP” almost delivers. Almost. On its own it’s a fine dance pop album; but this is Gaga we’re talking about and there are expectations.

She begins singing in a spooky voice against a spastic acoustic guitar and a twangy electric guitar. The first words we hear her sing on this first song, “Aura,” are, “I killed my former and left her in the trunk off Highway 10.” There are howls in the background and the guitar and voice seem to drift in and out of various states of consciousness before the dancey synth drums that define much of Gaga’s work kick in.

This is such a great, strong opening that it almost seems like Gaga is finally ready to deliver musically on the weirdness she presents visually. She killed her former? So the dance diva is gone and she’s reinvented herself? Awesome! This could be really interesting!

But then the song breaks into a “Do you wanna see me naked, lover” refrain that basically ruins everything she had already established. She didn’t kill her former. She just kept her former silent for the first 20 seconds of the song.

Towards the end of that song, a robotic voice recites “Dance, sex, ARTPOP, tech” and that’s basically the chemical breakdown of this album. And if you take the album at that level, it works great. It’s an arty pop album that features songs about sex that you’re supposed to dance to.

However, the most affecting moment comes toward the end of the album, and it doesn’t include any of these tenets. “Dope” will likely be a fourth single from this album this spring and have a really powerful video; her voice has never sounded so honest and raw, and this deserves to be a sleeper hit.

“I need you more than dope,” she sings against fuzzy synth bass and ballady chords that middle schoolers are probably already asking their piano teachers to teach them.

At their best, the songs on “ARTPOP” are banging dance numbers with skewering commentary and funny wordplay (“Swine” and “G.U.Y.”), but at their worst feel like they should be sung by Cher on a boat or be played during a strip club scene in a “Beverly Hills Cop” movie (“Sexxx Dreams” and “Mary Jane Holland”).

Criticisms aside, all of these songs really lend themselves to live performance. The lyrics are extremely quotable and the beats are extremely fist-pumpable. To say nothing of how cool the album cover will look as a concert T-shirt. And as Gaga clearly states in one of the album’s first singles, she lives for the applause. Maybe that’s why she leaked “ARTPOP” a little bit at a time — she couldn’t stand the silence of a sneak attack.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

'Five Star': A coming-of-age story about Brooklyn's gang…

'Five Star' tells a coming-of-age story about Brooklyn's gang culture at the Tribeca Film Festival.

National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

Local

NYPD detective shoots partner: DA

A New York City Police detective was arrested early Thursday and charged with driving under the influence while on the clock.

Local

Judge strikes down NY limits on donations to…

A federal judge on Thursday reluctantly struck down New York's limits on donations to independent political action committees as unconstitutional, potentially ushering in a new…

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

'A Brony Tale' documents men who are into…

Ashleigh Ball, a voice actress on "My Little Pony," speaks to us.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

NBA

Nets excited for Brooklyn fans to bring the…

Kevin Garnett has definitely used profanity while trash talking or in practices, but never to describe an entire borough.

NHL

Rangers turn up shot blocking in Game 3…

Game 3 of the Rangers-Flyers opneing round series was not a return to John Tortorella hockey.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.