Why the general public didn’t like this wonderful album is beyond me. I thought we were over this, but Elton John’s comments reminded me of a post I had intended on making back in 2013 when the backlash started.
Basically, ARTPOP is fucking amazing. Here’s why:
You have Aura, which opens with a lyric about Born This Way Era Gaga’s ‘death’ (”I killed my former and…” is literally the first lyric of the first song) which then transitions to the 'birth’ of ARTPOP Era Gaga with Venus (get it? birth of Venus… btw, an A+ song for talking about both the planet Venus as well as the goddess Venus, and also vaginas), followed by G.U.Y. which deconstructs the terms “guy” and “girl” and re-defines them in terms of the other (G.U.Y. = Girl Under You, G.I.R.L. = Guy In Romantic Love) while making a brilliant CEO-type analogy in the music video and using a sexual metaphor to call out the music industry’s need to put everything in a top 10 chart (”I don’t need to be on top to know I’m wanted”).
Additionally, Gaga included, not random references, but in-context references to Greek and Roman mythologies in the following songs: Aura (the goddess Aura), Venus (self explanatory), G.U.Y. (Himeros, Aphrodite, etc.) Sexxx Dreams (”You could turn to stone or the color of man petrified by a woman” = Medusa), and Mary Jane Holland (the second verse directly mentions Apollo and the whole song sort of mirrors the story of Apollo and Daphne).
And in terms of literature…an “1984" reference in Sexxx Dreams (”we could be caught, we’re both convicted criminals of thought”) that fits thematically with what the song is about, and a “Lord of the Flies” reference in Swine, a song that many people still don’t realize is about rape, In the aforementioned novel, to explain it lightly, a group of boys are stranded on an island and start to succumb to animalistic behavior, painting their faces and later even putting a sow’s (female pig! swine!) decapitated head on a stick (a very important part of the story and a very iconic part in the film adaptations). Hence the lyric in Swine, “Pain your face and paint his face and catch the beat.”
Then you have the brilliance of the tracks that explore contrasting ideologies. For example: Mary Jane Holland vs.Dope (one very much being a marijuana anthem and the other essentially being a huge “Don’t do drugs, kids!” ballad) and, of course, Donatella vs. Fashion! (the first talking about fashion in the shallowest manner possible, and the latter from a purely artistic perspective).
Plus, not to mention the amazing Bowie shout out in Fashion! (”There’s life on Mars, where the couture is beyond!”)
Don’t even get me started on how brilliant Do What U Want‘s lyrics are. It’s literally a big middle finger to the haters and critics. The single cover is literally her saying KISS MY ASS. Lol. It’s not even about sex, although upon first listen you think it is, which is actually the point the song is trying to make about media sensationalism. By proclaimed “do what you want with my body,” she’s telling the public to do what they want with her body of work - i.e. choosing to ignore the symbolic, metaphorical, and artistic implications of a particular outfit or performance. With lyrics like ”Write what you want, say what you want about me” and “I stand up and then I’m okay, but then you print some shit that makes me wanna scream,” it’s difficult to understand how some people STILL think this song is about sex.
On that note, a lot of people fail to see the double entendre in MANiCURE too. It is not about literal manicures. She needs to be “man-cured.” Whether that means she’s craving a man’s touch and needs to be cured, or she’s replacing male intimacy with female-female relationships and that’s the cure is entirely up to the listener’s discretion. One thing’s for sure though: it’s not about actual manicures!!! Literally so many people I’ve talked to have not noticed this.
Lastly, the way art talks to pop in the first verse of the song ‘ARTPOP’ ("come to me, in all your glamour and cruelty”) and the way pop talks to art in the second verse (“come to me, with all your subtext and fantasy”), and the way they end up coming together in the chorus (”a hybrid can withstand these things”), is one of my favorite things Gaga has ever done as a songwriter. Also, the fact that ARTPOP is not the opening track or the last track on the CD. It’s right in the middle. It’s the heart of the project.
A lot of thought went into ARTPOP. You’re entitled to dislike the album because it may not be your cup of tea or because you enjoyed TFM and BTW significantly more, but don’t you dare say it was stupid or bad when in fact it was freakin’ remarkable.
P.S. I didn’t even talk about Gypsy but it’s, without doubt, one of the best love songs Gaga has ever written. Watch these two performances: this one and this one.
P.P.S. How cool is it that the album cover is Renaissance art (Birth of Venus) and a baroque art (Apollo and Daphne) with contemporary art (Jeff Koon’s gazing ball) and pop (Gaga).in front?
P.P.P.S. Sorry if there are typos but I’m not editing
Jeff Koons: A Retrospective is Koons’s first major museum presentation in New York, and the first to fill nearly the entirety of the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building with a single artist’s work. Here’s a look at the works on view in the Museum’s Lobby and Sculpture Court.