Most anticipated albums of 2013
3. Lady Gaga – ARTPOP
Release date: Rumours of March, but Gags is far more likely to tease her fans by revealing the release date 8 months in advance to get them all worked up and frothing at the mouths.
I am a fan of Lady Gaga, not as much as I used to be, but I still like her and believe her to be rather talented and clever. I am by no means what could be described as one of her ‘Little Monsters’ and if I ever do anything to lead you to believe otherwise, you can shoot me down with a machine gun bra. Back in 2009, Gaga was at the top of her game. She had come back from a massive-selling debut album, The Fame, which despite being very patchy, had an excellent run of singles in the UK: Just Dance, Poker Face, Love Game, Paparazzi. When her label was going to re-release The Fame with some bonus tracks tacked on, Lady Gaga put in more effort than your average pop puppet and came out with a 10/10 standalone second album.
The story was a bit different by the time 2011’s Born This Way came out. By this point in her career, Gaga had become a bit of a cult leader for dysfunctional teens and obsessive Twitter users, so the more casual user, like myself, tried to distance himself from the madness. The more Gaga exclaimed ‘we’re all freaks, let’s unite and heal the world!’, I just put my hands up and said ‘I’m just here for the big tunes actually…’. The album that followed was obviously an album for her obsessive fans and again left casual fans feeling excluded. It also had too much Jesus.
The set up and execution of the album campaign was fairly shambolic. Lady Gaga came out with big hyperbolic statements saying things like ‘this will be the record of a generation’, then leaked (revealed) the lyrics for Born This Way, which were rubbish (You’re Lebanese, you’re Orient!). When the song came out, there was the whole Madonna rip-off furore, which I couldn’t hear at all, but apparently I was in the minority. To cut a long story short, everyone thought the album cover was one of Gaga’s hilarious jokes, but it was real (Head Photoshopped onto motorbike); she released a song that sounded quite like Bad Romance, about being in love with Judas, well-timed with Easter, to rile the Christians a little bit; there was a rumoured video about Gaga being a mermaid, for her emotional single The Edge of Glory, which was about her grandfather’s death, but instead the video featured Gags in her pants sitting on a fire escape and the featured saxophonist Clarence Clemons died a month after the single’s release, possibly from embarrassment (MERE SPECULATION).
The album had some massive tunes on it, Marry The Night, Government Hooker, & Scheiße (Release a song called ‘shit’ and people will still buy it) but also some absolute tosh, mainly the ‘be yourself’ mumbo jumbo with its awful lyrics: ‘Sometimes I want some raccoon or red highlights, just because I want my friends to think I’m dynamite’ – Hair, where Gaga sings about her emotional state through various hair-based metaphors; ‘We can be strong, we can be strong, follow that unicorn on the road to love’ – what more can you expect from a song called Highway Unicorn (Road to Love); and ‘I’m a nerd, I chew come and smoke in your face, I’m absurd’ – from Bad Kids, all of which undo all of the good pop music work she had done in the few years prior to this release. Since then she’s done a massive tour making loads of money in the process, which features a BUS FOR COUNSELLING and she’s performed a very shouty version of Gimme Shelter with the Rolling Stones.
With all that behind her what can we expect now?
The album is called ARTPOP, which has to be capitalised, just to wind people up and is supposedly going to be arty, which is something we can all look forward to. There are rumours of one or two collaborations with the music scene’s least reliable newcomer, Azealia Banks, so we’ll see if that ever comes into fruition (it probably won’t) but the only new music to appear so far is a song called ‘Cake’ (or Cake Like Lady Gaga). Most people seem to have assumed it is a joke, but knowing Gaga’s tendencies, it is probably a deadly serious foray into rap, featuring lyrics even Nadia Oh would be proud of such as ‘Donatella on your hoes/Donatella got them clothes/Donatella that’s fo’ sho’’ and ‘Burqa Swag like Lady Gaga’.
What about the artwork?
With one album artwork already guaranteeing its place for eternity on all Worst Album Covers lists, I would like Gaga to try and outdo herself here. Obviously having recently witnessed the closing down of HMV and Blockbuster, to which she surely shed a crystal tear, she is well aware that the future (and the present) lies in digital, so artwork is no longer a necessity, and more of a chance to take the piss a bit (albeit with slightly more effort than Hard-Fi’s effort. Who still remembers Hard-Fi?) To be honest, I’ll be disappointed if the album cover doesn’t feature at the very least Gaga’s head pasted onto a Segway, or her tiny frame dissected and preserved in formaldehyde.
What is the worst she could do now?
I don’t think we can expect all of ARTPOP (ARTPOP!!!) to sound like Cake, or any of it for that matter, as it will most likely be a mish-mash of excellent pop songs and inspirational drivel. Whatever happens, it will surely sell millions thanks to the unbelievably loyal fan base she has built up over the last few years, regardless of the quality of the music within. Critically, I think it is make or break for Lady Gaga. Everyone is over her wacky dressing now and for a while she has come across as more style than substance, so she really needs to whip out the big guns now (not literally like in the overblown Alejandro video). That reminds me, she needs to go back to making music videos that are the same length as the song; no long old dialogues about suicide attempts or wacky Tarantino side plots, just a normal length video where she sings, dances and wears a novelty hat. If she doesn’t cut the crap, the inspirational messages, the forced controversy, the ‘Mother Monster’ rubbish and the unnecessary pretension, she may well have sealed her fate with the masses. I want more Bad Romance and less Black Jesus + Amen Fashion.
How good does this need to be?
The album could be a big, fat 0/10 and still sell ridiculously well, especially if Amazon sell it for $1 like they did with the last one, to forcefully inflate the sales statistics, not caring about making a loss, (so virtuous), but I think she would need a safe 8/10 to regain my trust and/or keep me interested.
The disco ball’s in your court, Germanotta.
Part 1: Janelle Monae
Part 2: David Bowie
Part 3: Lady Gaga
Part 4: Goldfrapp
Part 5: Little Boots