Album review: Lady Gaga, ARTPOP - It's hard not to feel underwhelmed
No heart behind the art of Gaga's surface spectacle
It's hard not to feel underwhelmed by ARTPOP – but then, that's the danger of hype, especially hype allied to an artefact that's only partially about music. No other pop star has so completely understood and applied the post-modern theory of The Spectacle as La Gaga, but at the heart of her spectacle, the music comes a poor relation to considerations of design, and the manufacturing of ersatz outrage.
So it is that the most interesting aspects of ARTPOP are the extra-musical ones: the way that "Swine" roots between desire and disgust; the teasing reference to "behind the burka" added to the query, "Do you want to see me naked, lover? Do you want to see the girl who lives behind the aura?"; even, lord help us, the kitsch Jeff Koons sleeve design. Musically, it's pretty much the standard modern electro fare familiar from dozens of contemporaries, from Kylie to Britney. The dubstep riffs are more tortured in places, but when David Guetta and will.i.am are involved in a track's production – as with the bullishly shallow "Fashion!" – you're not straying from the mainstream.
The formula works best on "Swine", where the brutal utility of the twitching buzzsaw synth riff matches the visceral revulsion of the lyric: "I know you want me/ I'm just a pig inside a human body/ Squealer, squealer, you're so disgusting." It's the most interesting slant on the masturbatory eroticism trotted out in "Aura", "Sexxx Dreams" and "G.U.Y.", Gaga's robotic spoken section in the latter making sexual attraction seem grimly denatured. It's left to R Kelly, guesting on "Do What U Want", to supply a modicum of authentic romance.
One suspects it's the final two tracks, "Gypsy" and "Applause", that Gaga believes best represent her attitude – driven to wander, and slave to acclaim – but the title-track contains the real message of ARTPOP. "My art pop could mean anything," she sings – the corollary being that it could also mean nothing at all.
Download: Do What U Want; Artpop; Swine
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 David Cameron refers to 83-year-old Labour MP Dennis Skinner as 'Jurassic Park'
- 3 Alton Towers Air breaks down: 80 people stuck on broken down Monorail during heatwave
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Alwaleed bin Talal: Saudi Prince to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
The Rolling Stones announce biggest ever touring rock exhibition with Saatchi Gallery
Game of Thrones season 6: Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke says '50/50 chance' Jon Snow is alive
'Dukes of Hazzard' pulled from screens by CBS as outcry over Confederate flag grows
Game of Thrones season 6: Release date, plots and dragons - everything we know so far
Glastonbury 2015: The Who mock Kanye West - 'who's the biggest rock star in the world?'
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS