CD review: ‘Artpop’ by Lady Gaga

November 23, 2013 

Music Review Lady Gaga

This CD cover image released by Interscope Records shows "Artpop" by Lady Gaga.

UNCREDITED — Interscope Records/AP

  • Pop Lady Gaga Artpop

Lady Gaga gets lost in her mind

Inevitably, we all knew there would come a moment when Lady Gaga’s intellect would get the best of her, and in following her desire to create capital-A “Art” within the confines of the four-minute pop song, she’d leave her audience out in the cold. Tragically, this time has come, in the form of a very confused album called “Artpop.”

A lot of songs on “Artpop” are about her life as pop/fashion icon or about having lots of sex. These are tropes that Gaga has trotted out many times before, but there are few emotional entry points for these songs, which, when mixed with a drab musical backdrop of muted hooks and dance songs that carry on at the same generic tempo, makes for one of the least-engaging listening experiences in Gaga’s discography thus far.

Despite bringing in previous collaborators DJ White Shadow and RedOne, the hooks on this album are not that memorable. While “Born This Way” featured numerous genre detours and a flair for the overtly theatrical, “Artpop” feels like a collection of dance songs, and while tracks like “Venus” strike all the right poses, her drawn-out repetition of the phrase “Goddess of Love” and a too-predictable Uranus joke leave us feeling like Gaga has phoned things in a bit.

“Fashion!” is a highlight, using a spectacular piano intro to bleed into a minimal bassline. The Rick Rubin-produced “Dope” has an effective ballad-y atmosphere, and while some may debate the power of a chorus that repeats the phrase “I need you more than dope” again and again, it’s still a memorable song.

For all its lofty ambitions, “Artpop” never rises above the level of sideshow curiosity, lost in its own sense of meaning and self-importance.

Evan Sawdey, PopMatters.com

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