The Pop Mumble – ARTPOP – A Defence

gaga june brown

Jake Buck

I’m Jake, I either live on the disgusting part of Cambridge or the disgusting part of London. Sometimes I go to uni at Brunel and sometimes I cry in bed over Disney cartoons. I have a strong attraction to KFC. @JakeBBuck

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This is a response to Teoh Lander-Boyce’s The Pop Grumble – ARTFLOP

 

This is gonna be difficult to not come off as biased as I am a MASSIVE fan of Lady Gaga. Yet you’re gonna have to trust me that I don’t simply eat up everything she does, nor do I love it when she does something annoying or stupid or downright awful. I can call it (Jewels n Drugs, VOLANTIS, the LOOK HOW FAB I AM ‘artRave’).

However, in this dystopian pop landscape we currently live in, where Katy Perry gets to be number one in the world by near plagiarism of lyrics and sound and Miley Cyrus is… busy being Miley Cyrus, I think it’s pretty important we recognise that we have at least one mainstream popstar that’s making music which brings something a bit more innovative and exciting to the table. She’s boring because she’s still being Gaga? But no one else is being Gaga. She’s not being genuine or honest because she’s still talking about the same topics? Okay. Think it’s time to have a bit of a rumble with the grumble.

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So, we have the point that the album’s not breaking any new ground. I’d challenge that the music and the subjects, while not groundbreaking, are still different from your average popstar and if we want to talk groundbreaking then I think we need to understand that the majority of the ART is separated from the POP. While I personally think it’s a bit of a joke, what other popstar has a flying dress? Who is the first popstar to perform in space? The music comes first but it’s always been about the whole package with Gaga.

I personally am not understanding how the album isn’t considered art seeing as it’s her form of expression that has struck up huge debate across the world. Even beyond that, the rest of the campaign is overflowing with new art in its more obvious forms. It’s pretty limiting to dismiss the artistic nature of the album because it is thought of as bad art or shallow or the same old or what have you, it doesn’t take away that it is in fact an art form.

Gaga’s about getting in people’s faces, yes of course, what popstar isn’t? Every artist is trying to push their product as much as they can, it’s not solely a Gaga tactic. Gaga’s obviously racked up notoriety for being different from the rest yet now what separates her from the crowd is considered tiresome? So we should just return to the state of pop where everyone caters to the lowest rung of society, produces the most basic music, the easy-to-digest messages and overflows with overused clichés, letting the world swallow it up as something raw, honest and personal. Again, it’s a personal opinion, but I’d rather Gaga continued to be Gaga and gave something on a slightly higher level with slightly more artistic integrity than deliver a song about double rainbows or coming like a wrecking ball.

Yeah, I suppose her music’s not groundbreaking if you’re a fan of dance and electro music but if we look at the mainstream pop world, who the hell else is coming out with the music Gaga is? She’s probably the only popstar this year to release something that isn’t done by Dr Luke and Max Martin and it’s that pop audience she’s catering to and those people that she’s bringing something new to the table for. Who else has put out something like Aura or Venus or G.U.Y.?

Oh gosh, I haven’t even started on the five points yet.

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I honestly can’t recall a song where Gaga gave the same view of fame that she does in Applause. The Fame was strung out about her longing to be famous when she was broke and was an album to play when you were wanting that sense of fame no matter where in life you were: “our hair is perfect while we’re all getting shitwrecked…but we got no money.” So my life now. I think it’d be dishonest if she was repeating that in ARTPOP.

The Fame Monster is the next chapter of that story, essentially dealing with the insecurities brought around by the sudden fame she achieved, the darker side and the ‘monsters’. Again, I don’t see that repeated here.

Born This Way was more personal than just dealing with the showbiz of fame. It was more her experience on the journey she’s taken and the back and forth with her fans and the figures of her everyday life, not her career or fame.

That brings us to ARTPOP. Applause I read as how she once lived for the want to feel fabulous while broke, she now lives to have her work appreciated by her fans. It also gives an introduction to the album: “one second I’m a Koons then suddenly the Koons is me, pop culture was in art now art’s in pop culture in me.” The album brings pop culture, pop music, art all together, blurring the lines between it to give you a heightened experience. Y’know, it’s almost like a collage…

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Onto Aura. Yeah, it’s a song about the woman behind the popstar but that can be interpreted or related to by everyday people: the person they are behind the facade they put across to society. It incorporates culture references that I haven’t seen her, or any other mainstream popstar, use before. Numerous times it’s been asked “what’s the real Gaga like?” and she’s always said that she’s stayed honest to who she is constantly and that’s what she’s doing here, revealing who she is for the people that are still asking. She’s tackling the same topics but she’s doing it from either end of a spectrum now and we’ve watched the journey from nothing to global superstar. The topic of fame is still being dealt with but it’s impossible for the songs to be the same when she’s writing them from an honest view and we’ve seen how far she’s come.

Donatella I personally find satirical and if you can’t detect her sarcasm, you’ve misunderstood. Fashion! I genuinely believe was forced on the album by label heads. I’ve seen her speak on and perform about every song bar that and anyone involved in the song are the only ones left out of the booklet’s thank you list.

Point four.

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A change in genre is suggested. I honestly can’t compare the majority of this album to her past works. She began with pretty generic pop music with some electro influences, to some stadium rock influences and now there’s some pop rock (MANiCURE) a (poor) attempt at trap music (Jewels n Drugs) EDM influences (Swine, Mary Jane Holland) disco (Fashion!) R’n’B (Sexx Dreams, Do What U Want). I could only really compare Applause, Venus and Gypsy to past works and even then, it’s Gaga’s signature sound she’s harping back to, like any good popstar does. The title track has simple vocal over it, so does most of Aura. Do What U Want also shows the range of her vocals. It’s definitely a diverse record.

Yeah, she’s got a certain ‘Gaganess’ to her songs and a trademark weirdness in performances but why is that presented as a negative? What popstar isn’t trying to build up their own image, their own brand and keep their audiences excited? The only common thread in her performances are the guarantee that it’s not gonna be simple. She takes on a new persona for each single era she goes through which guarantees her switching it up constantly. She’s presenting herself as the goddess Venus while promoting her single Venus, kinda like she performed in a telephone box while wearing a telephone when she was promoting Telephone. Where’s the similarity? She’s now answering back to the media critics while promoting Do What U Want and again, that’s something she’s not done before. The formula of embodying her single in her promotion shows how diverse her music is.

Next.

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She’s always said her choruses are the most important part of her songs because that’s her idea of what should be staple in pop music so yeah, her choruses have some repetition to create a hook, but to focus solely on the chorus is to ignore the rest of the (usually) three verses. It’s like the chorus gives you the point she’s making in the song and the verses explain, elaborate and expand on that topic and some of her songs contain multiple choruses, not all of them repetitive.

Dope and Gypsy and Applause are undeniably coming straight from her heart, filled with allusions to her actual life, there’s no other person that could tell her story like that, it’s wrong to say the music lacks sentiment. I think the sentiment of “I NEED* you more than dope” shows the rawness of the song as it doesn’t offer relatability to a wide audience, rather a much more personal view. It seems odd to call that a fabrication or dishonest when it risks alienating the listener.

Two left.

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Again, it seems strange to me to say these songs lack Zedd or Madeon’s influence when Mary Jane Holland has its instrumental taken from a scrapped Madeon demo or when Gaga’s never ever come out with a song that sounds anything like Swine. Will.I.Am’s influence is, unfortunately, obviously felt on his track while RedOne’s influence is there on Gypsy. The same goes for DJ White* Shadow’s tracks, and as Zedd’s and Madeon’s tracks have a different sound to the producers listed, I think their influence is quite obviously present.

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Finally, I think a comparison to any other artist makes the argument too much of a reliance on personal opinion. I don’t particularly want to talk about Kanye because I think it dilutes the point I’m making, but most claims made here against Gaga I would find fitting to Kanye. I don’t necessarily see making a brand for a star as a bad thing but I don’t think Kanye’s changed from his own, obviously. So I don’t see why Gaga would be criticised for that either. I also find Gaga, as a female mainstream popstar to be of a different league to Kanye, not a better or worse league, just having different aims and audiences in their work.

The whole ARTPOP movement is in a category of its own. It comes with an album, imagery, an app, exhibitions, fashion, dance, sex, art, pop, tech(nology). To dismiss everything that’s put into this album to create this era is a narrow view. The album itself holds merit as art by being a form of expression, simply. But beyond that there’s televised performances, the daily performances of her costume pieces, the artRave, and god knows what else to come. Gaga’s always given her audience more than your basic popstar and now there’s a backlash to her for still pushing boundaries. It’s boring that she’s still working hard to give the world something different, it doesn’t connect to everyone therefore it can be dismissed and she should shut up and stop trying?

The only new point I want to bring is that she’s giving something that makes masses of people happy and she undeniably works hard to do that and I think it’s a shame people discredit that and downplay the experience for the *millions* of people she’s giving something that no one else can give to them. If people are screaming about how good it is then why try and burst their bubble and ruin their excitement? For some people it may genuinely be their Mona Lisa and who is anyone else to take that away from them? Stop the drama. Start the music.

 

ARTPOP is available to buy now: click.

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