Anyone who follows my ramblings knows I'm a pretentious snob queen with a screaming 15-year-old girl trapped inside. Trapped with very loose constraints, mind you, but you get the point. With the impending release of Lady Gaga's 3rd full studio album, ARTPOP, I was as giddy as a school girl. It has been a while since I was "Born this Way" as it were. Not only am I contractually obligated to review the album (We'll get to that in a second.), but I wanted to do something to celebrate the new record by doing something completely self-serving.
I had already made a Lady Gaga tribute comic book called Going Gaga! That was a pop culture mash-up that Mother Monster herself even tweeted about! So, I was able to convince Bluewater Productions to allow me to do a Lady Gaga biography comic book for their line of comic books that features comic book biographies of famous people. After doing Paula Deen and Honey Boo Boo, I guess it was a no brainer. Since this would be the third installment in the life and times of Lady Gaga, I wanted to do something different. Something noteworthy. Something that would jive with my garish, glitteringly maddening sensibilities. With her new album being a nod to the pop art movement that began in the late '50s, most notoriously linked to Andy Warhol, I set out to make a pop art tribute to the career of Lady Gaga. Borrowing heavily from pop culture and comic art, I threw together a mish-mash of iconic images and homages that would hopefully make Mother Monster proud.
Now, on to the album. ARTPOP took Lady Gaga two years to birth, having been side-stepped by a broken hip and whatnot. It promised to be a marriage of pop and art and culture and me (Gaga.). What we got is a fun collection of songs with a lot of lush and a lot of throw away. I guess the same could be said of most artistic adventures. I found it fun, theatrical, and worth the price of popcorn. I can see myself sweating and singing away on the elliptical to ARTPOP for months to come. Here is a blow-by-blow of some of my thoughts on the tracks:
"Aura:" "Aura" kicks off the aural experience of ARTPOP with a psychotic frenzy. Very much like a Quentin Tarantino riff, it's no surprise it was used promotionally for Gaga's silver screen debut in Robert Rodríguez's Machete Kills.
"Venus:" "Take me to your planet, take me to your planet - Goddess." "Venus" is a fun track even if it includes the unforgivable 3rd grade/3rd rate lyric of "Uranus - don't you know my a$$ is famous?"
"G.U.Y.:" "Greetings from Eros. I want to be the girl under you." Hence "G.U.Y." Penis envy? Venus envy? Not very girl power if laying under some guy makes you more than a G.I.R.L. Who am I to argue with the girl that could be king?
"Sexxx Dreams:" I wish I was sample savvy, because there is a distinct one present here, and it adds to an otherwise meh song about sweat-induced dalliances on the dreamscape.
"Jewels N' Drugs" (feat. T.I. and Too Short): Gaga goes gangsta on this track with a little help from hip hop royalty. While it's not a bad song, it's a bit of a throwaway. I don't understand why pop artists feel the need to dip their toe in the hood wading pool, but it never ends. Gaga rapping for the first time doesn't exactly get me lactating after all. Leave it to the pros, y'all.
"MANiCURE:" Every gurl needs a good gettin'-ready-to-go-out-and-own-the night anthem, and this is one for the mix tape. Infectious and clap happy, this is perhaps one of my favorite cuts. Less about press-ons and more about a 12-step program for puppy love, it still makes me want to put on my Cha Cha Heels.
"Do What U Want" (feat. R. Kelly): No offense to R. Kelly, but I'd be a little scurred to tell him to "do what he wants with my body." 'Nuff said.
"ARTPOP:" The titular track is ethereal and dreamy and possibly offers the meaning of the album with the succinct lyrics "My ARTPOP could mean anything." Which is usually a safe bet when it comes to a Lady Gaga record.
"Swine:" You have to love a song that is basically called "pig;" however, I am sure it's a word tossed around Downton Abbey quite often. Let's hope Gaga doesn't develop the requisite pop star British accent for no reason. (No offense, Madonna.) I happen to think it's an ode to former friend, now archenemy, pathetic, bottom-feeding has-been blogger Perez Hilton, with lyrics like, "You're just a pig trapped inside a human body." That sure does sound like that old sow. But, what do I know or care to know?
"Donatella:" "I am so fab. Check it out. I'm blonde, I'm skinny, I'm rich, and I'm a little bit of a bitc#!" So, goes Lady Gaga's tribute to fashion empire heir apparent Donatella Versace. One of my favorites, and sure to be a slamming gay anthem, as Mother Monster mindfully extolls the virtues of getting your gay friend's opinion when considering spray tan. Sound advice indeed. And, major props for using the term Voodoo Hoodoo to boot.
"Fashion!:" The piano intro to this track invokes the spine chilling sound of The Exorcist theme music but quickly changes pace as it becomes a casual, catchy ode to fashion. Looking good and feeling fine. Praise be Chanel.
"Mary Jane Holland:" Proclaiming to not be a slave to the blunt, this song could be a thinly veiled ode to the Green Goddess, and I'm not talking salad dressing, sister. Mother Monster should add "Mama Ganja" to her stable of nicknames.
"Dope:" "Dope" gives us a nice, little, angsty despair ditty. Lady Gaga's relationship with weed continues when she professes to someone she screwed over that she needs them more than dope. Golly, I wonder if they make a Hallmark card for that?
"Gypsy:" "I don't want to be alone forever, but I can be tonight," Gaga sings to the love she has of the life she has given up for fame. Here's to riding the wave while it lasts. Cheers!
Applause: Applause, Applause ad naus . . . we heard you twice the first time. Mother Monster is famously more far up her Little Monsters' backsides than a proctologist, and this is her love letter to them bemoaning it is our love and adoration that she thrives on. Opera clap, anyone?
Is ARTPOP's promise worth the pay off? It's fun, theatrical, has a ton of goodness, loads of surprises, is decidedly different, and yet distinctly Gaga. One can ascertain that it's hard out there for the most famous, filthy, beautiful, and dirty rich pop priestess in this here solar system. A welcome addition to the catalog of pop continuum that is Gaga.
Lady Gaga, I applaud you.
P.S. Buy my comic book, gosh darn it! I'm really proud of it!
ARTPOP will be available on iTunes on November 11. Pre-order your copy here.
The Fame: Lady Gaga #3, a pop art tribute biographical comic book written and drawn by me is available now. Get your copy here.