Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Gaga merges the worlds of ‘art’ and ‘pop’

Lady Gaga is back. With the release of her newest album (and associated app) “ARTPOP,” Gaga will likely reach the top of the charts for the first time since the release of her last studio set, “Born This Way,” in 2011. Earlier this year, a hip injury forced her to cancel the remaining dates on her “Born This Way Ball” world tour.

AlexKormisPS (ALM)/ Flickr

By the time her last album was released, fatigue had set in amongst listeners. Her outrageous outfits and hairstyles were no longer enough to conjure regular front-page headlines, and her streak of Top 10 Billboard singles ended with the release of the album’s final single, “Marry the Night.”

So far, the “ARTPOP” era has been a shaky one. Upon its release, lead single “Applause” was well-received by fans, but sold a measly 218,000 copies in comparison to the 557,000 digital downloads Katy Perry sold of her new song “Roar” in its debut frame the same week. However, the single has had steady sales and grown in radio airplay since its release. While her VMA performance helped win back some fans, a Twitter feud between Gaga and gossip blogger (and former friend) Perez Hilton gained her another round of negative attention.

Prior to the release of “Applause,” Gaga fans got their first taste of “ARTPOP” when the song “Aura” leaked in early August. Produced by Zedd (whose song “Clarity” is a Billboard Top 10 hit), the song stirred controversy for cultural appropriation heard in lyrics like, “Do you want to see the girl who lives behind … the burqa?”

Despite the backlash, the lyrics remained when Gaga premiered the song live at an iTunes Festival performance on Sept. 1 – even including a dance in which her hands mimicked a burqa covering her face. The song throws guitars, synths and distorted vocals at listeners before rewarding them with one of her catchiest choruses yet.

“MANiCURE” is another song that stands out from her iTunes Festival set. Critics of “Born This Way” often cited the fact that the simple catchiness that made “Poker Face” a class was absent from anything on the album. The simple “I’m going to be manicured/he want to be manicured/ma ma ma manicure/she wants to be manicured” hook reclaims this simple catchiness over a more rock-influenced and in-your-face beat.

“Swine” is a song that rides the line between rock and EDM. During the festival performance, Gaga sat at a piano and occasionally turned to a drum set, hitting the crash cymbals as grungy synths filled the air. In the song, she calls out a “pig inside a human body,” rumored to be Hilton.

“Jewels and Drugs,” another new song played during the set, finds the singer flirting with trap and hip-hop sounds, featuring rappers T.I., Twista and Too $hort.

The obvious standout (and immediate fan favorite) of the new songs premiered is “Sex Dreams,” which features typical Gaga shockers like, “Heard your boyfriend was away this weekend/wanna meet at my place?” After asking fans via Twitter which new song they would like to see as her latest single, the mid-tempo, synth-driven song remains in the lead.

When “Born This Way” was released in the spring of 2011, Gaga squared off with pop star Britney Spears, whose “Femme Fatale” album was released just several months earlier. This year, she and Spears (who recently announced her eighth album for a Dec. 3 release) will face even more competition from Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake.

The “ARTPOP” album and digital app are expected to be released on Nov. 11, with the album’s second single likely to be released sometime before then. While an associated tour has yet to be announced, you can bank on one not too long from now. After all, she does live for the applause.


Jake Reed can be reached at [email protected].

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