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

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.