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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.