- 28 Nov 13
Scandalous pop star presses the repeat button
She has often gone out in public apparently dressed as a fish – now, it seems, Lady Gaga may have jumped the shark, so to speak. Preceded by a brace of borderline flop singles, Gaga’s third album arrives just as she has become the victim of a powerful cultural shift. Dressing like someone’s mad aunt in the attic was vaguely shocking five years ago – but, in a post Twerkgate universe, we aren’t so easily appalled (when Gaga donned fake rotting teeth for the YouTube Awards, it was merely off-putting). her outrageousness feels somewhat old hat (even if that hat is designed by superstar milliner Philip Treacy).
Musically, she remains locked in the same holding pattern: LP number three is awash with fizzy pop that owes a little to Madge, and a lot to the EDM-soaked, beat-driven sound pioneered by producers such as Dr. Luke and Max Martin. What it doesn’t contain are stone-cold classics in the vein of ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Poker Face’. Predictably, the record comes with a tiresome, bolted-on ‘mandate’, Gaga declaring it her ambition to carve a new space between – get this –’art’ and ‘pop’. Which would be perfectly revolutionary were it not for the fact that musicians have been doing just this for the past 25 years. The Pet Shop Boys actually released a greatest hits with that very title. That isn’t to say the project is utterly without merit. ‘Venus’ is a thumping strip-club anthem with chortle-in-your-tea lyrics (“Uranus/don’t you know my ass is famous”); the grind-house baroque of ‘G.U.Y.’ (“girl under you”) lands its blows with agreeable fervor. Tellingly, ArtPop’s best song is its least hysterical: a properly gloopy r’n’b duet with R Kelly, ‘Do What U Want’ suggests the future of the world’s most scandalous pop star may be brightest if she dials down the Gaga-isms and learns to love the Stefani Germanotta within.
Key Track: 'Do What U Want'