KASU

Pop's Resident Provocateur Fizzles On 'ARTPOP'

Nov 11, 2013
Originally published on November 11, 2013 6:54 pm

The apparatus Joni Mitchell famously described as "the star-maker machinery behind the popular song" has been in overdrive lately, preparing the world for Lady Gaga's new music.

Since the summer, there's been a steadily rising crescendo of leaks and audacious tweets and pop-up performances in various countries. Last month, at a nightclub in London, the singer-songwriter scored extra media coverage by disrobing completely while singing a song called "Venus."

The crazy-expensive campaign will no doubt seem familiar to anyone old enough to remember Madonna. Something I keep wondering: Is it enough to distract people from the fizzy, derivative, overheated and undercooked music on the unfortunately titled ARTPOP?

It seems our dear Lady Gaga, she of the incandescent melodies and million-dollar singalong refrains, got lost in some South Beach club and came under the spell of electronic dance music. She went and got the sleekest beats money can buy, and then she wrote thoroughly predictable four-measure hooks that talk about the burdens of fame, or explore the various stages of physical attraction.

There are glimmers of cleverness — a few songs appear to worship at the altar of high fashion, but could just as easily be snarky commentary. Gaga got where she is by working every angle, both inside her music and in the culture. Sometimes it's cool when you can't tell the circus from the sideshow, but with this album, I couldn't shake the sense that the "art" of ARTPOP is much more evident in the marketing than in the music.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Pop superstar and professional provocateur Lady Gaga releases "ARTPOP," her third full-length album today. Critic Tom Moon says if you've been following all the pre-release hype, the actual music may register as a letdown.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO WHAT U WANT")

TOM MOON, BYLINE: The apparatus Joni Mitchell famously described as the star-maker machinery has been in overdrive lately, preparing the world for Lady Gaga's new music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO WHAT U WANT")

MOON: Since the summer, there's been a steadily rising crescendo of leaks and audacious tweets and pop-up performances in various countries. Last month, at a nightclub in London, the singer and songwriter scored some extra media coverage by disrobing completely while singing this song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VENUS")

MOON: The crazy-expensive campaign will no doubt seem familiar to anyone old enough to remember Madonna. The thing I keep wondering, is it enough to distract people from the fizzy, derivative, overheated and undercooked music on the unfortunately titled "ARTPOP"?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SEX DREAMS")

MOON: It seems our dear Lady Gaga, she of the incandescent melodies and million-dollar sing-along refrains, got lost in some South Beach club and came under the spell of electronic dance music. She went and got the sleekest beats money can buy, and then she wrote thoroughly predictable four-measure hooks that talk about the burdens of fame or explore the various stages of physical attraction. Here's the most musically-intricate one. It's called "Swine".

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWINE")

MOON: There are other glimmers of cleverness - a few songs appear to worship at the altar of high fashion, but they could just as easily be snarky commentary. Of course, Lady Gaga got where she is by working every angle, both inside her music and in the culture. Sometimes it's cool when you can't tell the circus from the sideshow, but with this album, I couldn't shake the sense that the art of "ARTPOP" is much more evident in the marketing than in the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANICURE")

SIEGEL: The new album from Lady Gaga is called "ARTPOP." Our reviewer Tom Moon is the author of "1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die".

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.