One of my favorite things ever c:
Once upon a time, there was a little chubby gay boy sitting in his living room and watching MTV. You know, back when it was still actually MUSIC Television and still, well, mattered. He was catching up to the latest music video releases and countdowns. In one particular countdown he was watching, the number one spot of that countdown was a song called Just Dance by a singer he had never heard of before: Lady Gaga. When he first saw her stage name on the title card, he scoffed and raised an eyebrow. “What kinda stupid name is that?” he thought to himself. And yet, as he watched the video and listened to the song, he was intrigued. He wanted to know more about this enigma popstar that calls herself Lady Gaga. Over the next few months he ended up listening to more of her songs and seeing her music videos and he thought, wow, she’s actually quite good. So he bought her album and liked it very much, but he wasn’t too overly taken by her. He enjoyed her songs for a while before he moved on to other artists.
Cut to the next year, when she burst onto the scene once more with a certain song called Bad Romance, and the boy had no idea what happened. All of a sudden he fell in love with her, just like that. He thought everything about that one song was so compelling and iconic, and the video solidified that thought. It was not long after she released her EP, The Fame Monster, that the boy realized this woman was incredible, and was proud to call himself a little monster. And when Born This Way was released, he knew that Gaga also had the same deep love for her fans that they have for her, and somehow her music and the fact that she was just being herself was extremely empowering for the boy, and it helped him become a little more fearless.
Fast forward to now, Here I am writing this with headphones on and ARTPOP playing for about the hundredth time. Yes, I know it isn’t released yet. I’m well aware of that. But after two years of literally no new Gaga music, how could any little monster resist? There are still those ones that are staying true to November 11th and will not listen to the album until then, but I just couldn’t do it. Gaga has released snippet after snippet and performed a number of songs from the album live, and I just needed to experience the full album for myself.
And what an experience it was.
I do feel like ARTPOP is more than just an album. It’s an experience. It’s a journey. Every song has its own uniqueness to it, and each one, as Gaga had quoted once before, has a certain kind of adrenalin to it. She wanted us to feel those, and I definitely did. Oh did I ever. There’s probably not an inch of ground in my room that I didn’t cover, because I was dancing and jumping around all over the place as I listened to the album. I don’t even know what came over me. The album just has such an impact on me. I felt like I was being transported elsewhere, to some type of rave in outer space or something. It’s indescribable.
The album starts with a bang with the first track, Aura, one of the songs that we heard on the iTunes Festival Swinefest, and also the soundtrack to Machete Kills, Gaga’s movie debut. The song goes hard with amazing production by the one and only Zedd, who I’m quite certain is my favorite EDM producer ever. The beat is pounding and the chorus is soaring. The vocals, however, I would say that I preferred the demo version a lot more. I just thought it fit with the tone of the song a lot better. Aura isn’t one of my most favorite tracks on the album, but I think it’s the perfect way to kick it off, because it gives you the feel of what the rest of the album is going to sound like.
Then we go right to Venus, which is definitely in my top 5 of favorite songs on this album. This was the song that Gaga produced herself, and I have to say, it sounds very very HER, if you get what I’m saying. It’s very her style sound-wise but also lyrically. When I heard the first snippet back in October, I almost fell off my chair. I immediately thought, “Whoa, this sounds so 80s! It’s giving me every bit of David Bowie!” And I loved that. Somehow Gaga managed to make this song sound so different and yet so authentically HER. And you can’t deny the line “don’t you know my ass is famous” is iconic as hell.
I love the fact that G.U.Y. plays right after Venus, because these two fit perfectly together. And that’s because the beginning of G.U.Y. is a spoken part where Gaga is greeting Himeros, the god of sexual desire, and telling him to “lay back and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions.” The 20-seconds or so of the beginning of this song, my jaw was open the whole time. And when the first verse started, I nearly came. This would also be among my top 5, because G.U.Y. is so infectious and amazing from start to finish. Zedd’s production especially shines on this song, and if I were him, I’d be pretty damn proud of it.
Then comes Sexxx Dreams, another Swinefest premiered song. Although I was still extremely excited to hear the studio version. One word I’d say about it is that it is really fuckin’ HOT. The song talks about being in a relationship with someone but having dirty thoughts about someone else, and the production + vocals did an awesome job in giving off that sexual, forbidden lust type of energy. Right after the bridge, there’s this small moment where Gaga goes “I can’t believe I’m telling you this but I’ve had a couple drinks and oh my god” and then she laughs, it was so adorable and honest. I wouldn’t say this song is in my top 5, but it definitely stands out, and it’s one of my favorites.
Jewels n’ Drugs is next, but to be completely honest it’s pretty much the only song that I mostly skip over. Not that I think it’s a bad song, because it isn’t. I just generally am not that big of a fan of songs that feature, like, many different rappers in one song. Hell, I don’t even like rap that much in general. It’s a good song, and I appreciate Gaga for doing something she’s never done before. And I do love the production of the song, the beat is siiick. Still, it isn’t one of my favorites.
MANiCURE wastes no time in starting, because it kicks into high gear right after Jewels n’ Drugs ends. This song is electrifying and catchy in every way possible, and I love the play on words Gaga uses in the lyrics, as she talks about getting actual manicures but also getting man cured. The studio version differs slightly from the version she’d premiered at Swinefest, however. The “heal me” part that was in the chorus of that version is sadly only in the bridge of the studio version, and at first I was a little bummed by that because that was my favorite part of the song. But I love the new version of the chorus as well, now that I’ve listened to it multiple times. And I’m also glad that she kept the guitar breakdown at the end, cause I just live for that.
Do What U Want was the second song Gaga released as a promotional single. You know, the one with Gaga’s gorgeous derriere on the cover that I know have made lots of you question your sexuality. It’s also a collaboration with R Kelly. I think this song has sort of a The Fame era feel to it. It’s a song with a very prominent R&B feel to it, yet an awesome electronic beat. In the words of Tamar Braxton, you DID THAT with the production, DJ White Shadow! I totally got my life. Lyrically it’s also a very powerful song, because Gaga’s basically saying that the critics and haters can just do whatever they want with Gaga’s body but they’ll never get her heart, mind or voice. They’ll never get to her, because she’s gonna keep doing what she loves to do regardless of anything they say. A great message on top of a highly danceable song. One of my favorites, hands down.
Next comes the title track, ARTPOP. To me this was the standout song of Swinefest. I was so captivated by her performance, and I desperately wanted to hear what the studio version of this song sounded like. I remember Gaga had once said that this album was especially made to be listened with headphones, and even though I notice that in every track, I think this particular song is the perfect example of one that is much better to be listened to via headphones. It has a trance-like beat you can groove to but Gaga’s vocals are soft and airy. I always can’t help but just close my eyes when this song plays and I just get lost in it. The song ends with “free my mind, ARTPOP. You make my heart stop.” And yes, the song and the album did both of those things to me.
But the tone quickly shifts from ethereal to gritty and dirty as Swine begins. Immediately I just heard the Zedd-ness in the production, because of his signature bass. What I love about this song is that you can tell it was written in anger. Gaga’s emotion just really shines through. This song also has a killer beat drop that I swear to god made me cum. Out of all the songs on the album, this is one I’m pretty sure is meant to be played in raves and underground dance clubs. Oh and no, the studio version has no pig squeals, unfortunately. xD
Oh but the energy doesn’t stop there, because Swine is immediately followed with another club-banger also produced by Zedd: Donatella. This song was inspired by Donatella Versace, although I wouldn’t say it’s directly ABOUT Donatella but more about what women like Donatella go through. It starts off with the sound of I’m pretty sure Gaga pouring champagne into a glass, and then she goes “I am so fab. Check out, I’m blonde, I’m skinny, I’m rich, and I’m a little bit of a bitch.” I could totally see this song being played on a runway show. The chorus vocals sort of remind me of that Icona Pop song, “I Love It”, and the beat is just straight-up orgasmic. This was one of the songs that I knew nothing about prior to hearing it, so I was extremely excited to hear it. Totally did not disappoint.
Fittingly enough, the song that comes after Donatella is called Fashion! And it’s about, well, fashion. Haha. xD This is the song that will.i.am produced, and it has a very cool vibe to it. I adore the small parts where will.i.am says “Slay! Slay!” and nearing the end, where he speaks French. Although to be truly honest, as much as I like the song, I do feel like it’s the most filler-esque out of all the songs. It stands out in its own way, but compared to the other tracks I don’t really think it’s as unique. It’s still a pretty catchy song, though.
Ladies and gentleman, introducing Mary Jane Holland! Now this song, I’m aware that a lot of monsters have mixed feelings about it, but honestly, I think it’s pretty fuckin’ awesome. xD I mean yeah, when I first heard the snippet, I wasn’t that sold, but the snippet totally didn’t do the song justice. After listening to the full studio version, I thought it’s really fun and playful and sounds like something that Gaga wrote when she was high, lol. And that “I am rich as piss” part? Slayed me.
It wouldn’t be a Gaga album without a piano ballad. If Dope sounds familiar to you, it’s because she’d performed a different version of it in Swinefest. It was called I Wanna Be With You. Gaga has said that this song is the most personal song she’s ever written, and not only is it clear lyrically, but also in her vocals. That’s one of the things I adore about Gaga’s music so much. She’s amazing at getting her emotions across and having us FEEL those emotions along with her as we listen to her sing. I’ve seen a lot of monsters bitching about how this song is bad and that they prefer IWBWY over it but, to be honest, I completely disagree. I feel like this song is a much less cheesy version of IWBYW. Lyrically it’s a much more real and emotional song, and it gives us more insight on the struggles Gaga went through with addiction. When she sings “I need you more than dope,” she’s not only singing to us, but she’s also singing to every person in her life that she loves. Despite all the backlash this song is getting, I think it’s beautiful, and it never fails to get me all choked up.
Gypsy is actually playing right now as I’m writing this part. I’m grinning from ear to ear and my eyes are slightly watery. I have to say that Gypsy is without a doubt my most favorite song on the entire album. It’s not even only top 5 anymore, it straight up tops the list. Words that come to mind are euphoric and liberating. Somehow the song makes me want to dance and cry at the same time. The first time we heard this song Gaga performed live as a piano ballad, so I had no idea what to expect with the studio version. My first time hearing it, I was so overwhelmed with this feeling of joy that I nearly burst into tears because…goddammit, this song is just so fucking good. Like, holy crap. It’s very reminiscent of Born This Way, because the production has an Edge of Glory feel to it. Lyrically I also adore this song, because it gives us a peek at Gaga and Taylor’s relationship, and it also lists off countries and cities at the end. She even said “Someday in Jakarta” which brought a big smile to my face, because as you know this friggin’ country of mine didn’t allow her to perform here, much to the dismay of Indonesian monsters everywhere, including myself. And she also gave a nod at Scheiße with “I don’t speak German but I try.” I could go on and on gushing about this song and how wonderful it is but it’s better if you listen to it yourself, and hopefully you’ll feel the same emotions I felt. <3
And of course, last but not least, Applause, the first single. I think it’s a great song to end the album with, because after that exhilarating ride, it really does deserve a huge round of applause. I don’t need to elaborate more on this song really, because everything needed to be said about it has already been said. Although a part of me does kind of wonder why Gaga released this song as the first single since I feel like, to be completely honest, the rest of the songs on the album are much, much better. Still, I love Applause and its legendary video, and I also love that this album both started and ended with a bang.
To those of you that have read all the way to here… Dang, I’d hug you if I could, cause I really really rambled on with this review. xD But overall, ARTPOP was so so worth the wait. Other than some small nitpicky things, I honestly don’t have a single negative thing to say about the album. I’d even go out on a limb and say that it’s Gaga’s best album yet, and I think even some people that aren’t necessarily big fans of Gaga would really like it too. I give it a glowing 10/10, and I cannot wait to buy the shit out of it come Nov. 11th. <3
Sometimes, you’ve got to make sacrifices, Lara. You can’t save everyone.
I know about sacrifices.