Audio CD, Streamline Records, Rs. 395.
She made a career for herself shocking audiences with crazy outfits, provocative performances, sleazy lyrics and an eccentric attitude to match. But the stardom-struck queen of popular culture seems to be losing her Midas touch. Lady Gaga’s eight-year-old musical career has its moments of massive highs and miserable lows, but the artiste’s longest golden streak seems to be losing its sheen in her latest record Artpop.
The controversy-ridden record which stormed the music world last month has already suffered severe turbulence. With criticism pouring in for the album cover, the record length and the songs’ explicit content, Lady Gaga may have hit a road block with Artpop on her highway since The Fame.
Artpop, according to the artiste, is an attempt to look at the world as a unified place of love and the album as simply a pleasurable experience. However, the reality is that though the record topped the UK charts in its first week, its sales dropped almost 80 per cent in the second week itself. While Lady Gaga lashed at critics who called her album “a big flop” with statements that she was “mismanaged” and “betrayed”, the truth is that the songs in the record don’t even come close to The Fame and Born This Way.
Adding to all this uproar came the lifting of the three-year ban on Gaga imposed by China. The country's authorities blacklisted the 27-year-old singer three years ago after the Culture Ministry deemed her collection a risk to the nation’s cultural security. While Gaga had a lot to cheer with the entry of Artpop into the Chinese market, it remains to be seen if the reception for the popular culture icon will be as cold under the Chinese blanket as it was in the Western pullover.
Focusing lyrically on her personal views of fame, love, sex, feminism, self-empowerment and overcoming addiction, Artpop features guest vocals from several new partners, including T.I., Too Short, Twista, and R. Kelly.
Kicking off the near one-hour-long record with Aura, Gaga establishes herself with the soaring lyrics “I’m not a wandering slave. I’m a woman of choice.” But the song wanes in quirky pop undertones and unsynchronised lyrics.
With constant references to Greek mythology’s goddess of love Aphrodite, Gaga does spin some seasoned melodies with fun beats in songs like ‘Venus’, ‘Artpop’ and ‘Fashion!’. Some of the songs turn out to be fantastically groovy but are a fleeting glimpse of Gaga’s glory days.
The heavy experimentation in most of the other songs in the record is what drops them musically like a stone in water. ‘G.U.Y.’, ‘X Dreams’, ‘Swine’ and ‘Dope’ meander on pure cynicism and erratic sound samples. The few highlights include ‘Gypsy’, a roving tribute to her own journey – constantly travelling and evolving, never steady, which she handles with sensible creativity. ‘Do What You Want’ is another masterpiece in the songwriter’s art book. But those can be the only memorable experiences in the lyrical mishmash album. The record closes with ‘Applause’, which was released as a single earlier, where she screams for the applause she loves. But, the song doesn’t seem to get you onto your feet and give her a standing ovation.
While Gaga’s quote that “Life is an art form – remember yourself with every stroke” deserves a memorable plaudit, pop lovers can choose to best forget her latest offering and let it slip under the door.