Artpop is Lady Gaga's third studio album that was released on November 6, 2013 by Interscope Records.
Tracklisting[edit | edit source]
- Aura - 3:55
- Venus - 3:53
- G.U.Y. - 3:52
- Sexxx Dreams - 3:34
- Jewels N' Drugs - 3:48
- Manicure - 3:19
- Do What U Want (featuring R. Kelly) - 3:47
- Artpop - 4:07
- Swine - 4:28
- Donatella - 4:24
- Fashion! - 3:59
- Mary Jane Holland - 4:37
- Dope - 3:41
- Gypsy - 4:08
- Applause - 3:32
Album Background[edit | edit source]
The development of "Artpop" began shortly after the release of "Born This Way."
By the following year, the album's concepts were "beginning to flourish" as Gaga collaborated with producers Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow.
The initial recording sessions for the album coincided with the Born This Way Ball, with up to 50 songs sketched out and considered for inclusion.
By May 2012, the project was taking definite form, with co-manager Vincent Herbert promising "insane, great records" within its craft. Gaga herself admitted that she yearned to make audiences have "a really good time" with "Artpop", engineering the album to mirror "a night at the club".
In a 2013 interview for MTV: "When you listen to it, it really flows nicely. It's really fun to pop in with your friends. I really wrote it for me and my friends to pop in from start to finish."
Meanwhile, Gaga began presenting tracks to her record company and hoped to reveal the album's working title by September, a revelation that instead was announced one month in advance.
The artist later claimed that "Artpop" was her first "real" effort that emulated a "phoenix rising from the ashes", reflecting her heightened confidence in writing material for the album compared to her previous efforts.
Gaga recruited Jeff Koons into the project in early 2013, with the two having previously met at a Metropolitan Museum of Art fashion event three years earlier, where Gaga provided a live performance.
According to Koons, she "just kind of grabbed ahold of me and gave me a big hug around my waist " and replied, "You know, Jeff, I've been such a fan of yours, and when I was a kid just hanging out in Central Park I would talk to my friends about your work."
Following her hip surgery in February 2013, Gaga was forced into a six-month hiatus, during which she studied literature and music with the Haus of Gaga in addition to sharing "creative gifts.
This stage allowed Gaga to review and enhance her creative direction, which she admitted to be a meticulous "gazing process".
According to her, "I have to gaze into the work for long periods of time for it to be good," adding that upon analyzing her ideas, she received "that wonderful feeling" which told her "that's the one."
In addition to Interscope notifying mainstream media outlets on upcoming releases for "Artpop" in July 2013.
Gaga announced plans for a multimedia application software which "combines music, art, fashion, and technology with a new interactive worldwide community".
Relative Wave (the architects behind Björk's multimedia app for Biophilia") took nearly a year to develop the "Artpop" app.
Some dismissed the project as an elaborate ploy to inflate album sales, under the assumption Billboard would count a downloaded track as a complete unit.
Editorial director Bill Werde later addressed these concerns on in July 2013, "As we understand, Gaga fans will get [the] Artpop app for free and can buy the album [through the] app. Albums purchased this way would count on Billboard charts, however, [speculation that the purchase of a single track through the app would count as an album sold is not true]... [also], concerns about self-reported data by Gaga's [team] seem unfounded – sales will be fulfilled and reported by existing digital retailers... [and], for those who may ask: This is obviously different from Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail / Samsung [deal] which—via an app—gave [his album] for free [and] had no option for fans to buy."
In October 2013, a fan asked Gaga why the song "Brooklyn Nights" was not included the album, to which she replied: "I wanted to spend more time on it. It will come out [via] the app sometime during the album cycle".
Development[edit | edit source]
Gaga described the album as "a celebration and a poetic musical journey" that displayed a "lack of maturity and responsibility", contrary to the dark, anthemic nature of "Born This Way," ultimately subscribing to what she called a "reverse Warholian" formula.
In an August 2013 interview, she told V magazine that she underwent a "cosmetic experience with words" as she examined potential names for the project.
"Popart" was initially favored and taken into consideration, but as Gaga questioned "the cultural implication of the words" and the title's evolution post-release, she soon found a "nice ring" to "Artpop".
With Artpop, Gaga attempts to inject vulnerability into her work; Pierrot and Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus painting have both been cited as muses of the singer's creative vision. She admitted to being increasingly self-conscious at the apex of the "Born This Way" era.
When asked about the decision to refine her image, she responded: "For Artpop, I, in the most metaphorical explanation, stood in front of a mirror and I took off the wig and I took off the makeup and I unzipped the outfit and I put a black cap on my head and I covered my body in a black catsuit and I looked in the mirror and I said: 'OK, now you need to show them you can be brilliant without that.' And that's what Artpop is all about. Because I knew that if I wanted to grow, if I really wanted to innovate from the inside, I had to do something that was almost impossible for me."
The album's themes primarily revolve around fame, sex & empowerment whilst briefly exploring gender roles and marijuana.
The references include Greek and Roman mythology, and classic jazz and electronic musician Sun Ra.
Spencer Kornhaber from The Atlantic saw Artpop as an "attention-freak's manifesto", and interpreted the record's exploration into carnal desire as a facet of the broader idea of "owning up to one's own desire for attention".
London Evening Standard's John Aizlewood suggested that songs such as "Do What U Want" and "Dope" highlighted Gaga's "curiously submissive" tendencies as a lyricist.
Jason Lipshutz from Billboard commented that Artpop "naturally abides" to her "far-reaching ambition" to "re-think the 'pop album' as an entity."
USA Today's Jerry Shiver observed the lyrics to foretell "the exploits of an empowered, sexy siren who wrestles with fame", something he expected from Gaga.
John Pareles from The New York Times argued that with "Artpop", Gaga reasserted "her need for the love of her audience and announced her new pivot to align herself with the [visual] art world."
Composition[edit | edit source]
Chart Performance[edit | edit source]
"Artpop" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 258,000 copies sold during its first week, making it Lady Gaga's second consecutive number-one album and the fourth-largest sales week for a female artist in 2013 (behind Beyonce's self-titled album, Katy Perry's "Prism" album and Miley Cyrus' "Bangerz" album).
The album was certified platinum by the RIAA for reaching over a million stream-equivalent units.
Critical Reception[edit | edit source]
"Artpop" received mixed response from music critics.
Metacritic calculated an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 30 reviews from reviewers.
Adam Markovitz from Entertainment Weekly stated that many of the album's songs were "enjoyable but well-worn", further commending the execution of the album and the "melodic lines" of the songs. However, he noted that the album generally failed to make an overall impression.
Jerry Shriver, writing for USA Today, opined that the record was not "consistently entertaining", though admitted that the album was mostly intended for Gaga's fans and not for general listeners.
Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani provided a favorable review, praising its sounds and structures.
Jason Lipshutz from Billboard commended Gaga's effort to make "absolutely certain that every inch of her craft evolves and innovates".
In a positive review, an editor of The Daily Beast declared that "there were moments of expected genius on it worthy of Grammy consideration."
Robert Copsey from Digital Spy felt that several songs sounded like "half-finished plagues", though suggesting that the album had more good songs than bad tracks.
Helen Brown, writing in The Daily Telegraph, criticized Gaga's choice to do another album "themed around her own stardom" (after The Fame and The Fame Monster), and commented that although Gaga approached different genres of music, "she doesn't do anything wildly original with them, but she has fun". Brown however praised the album as "great for dancing".
Alexis Petridis from The Guardian suggested there was "some decent pop" on Artpop but thought the art was "rather harder to discern".
The Independent's Andy Gill commented, "It's hard not to feel underwhelmed by Artpop."
Caryn Ganz from Rolling Stone called it "a bizarre album of squelchy disco" and "sexual but not sexy."
Some journalists felt that the more mixed response from critics in comparison to Gaga's previous work was unfair and stemmed from a focus on the singer herself and not purely on the album's content.
Nick Messitte of Forbes criticized music critics, denouncing their reviews as being "incoherent" and focusing on the "artist over the art itself," accusing them of "bend[ing] over backwards to mention everything else before the music". He summarized that Artpop "delivers a welcome departure from standardized verse-chorus structures" and is ultimately a "bold" effort.
Ed Potton of The Times concurred, stating that "It's a wonder you can hear Lady Gaga's third studio album over the sound of knives being sharpened" following her previous album "Born This Way", a work he felt "Artpop" "was far superior to."
Robert Christgau, writing for The Barnes & Noble Review, claimed that the record's "critical reaction [was] clueless", ultimately naming Artpop "2013's most underrated album".