Music Box: Lady Gaga, “Artpop”

Lady Gaga has always kept listeners on edge with catchy pop gems that contain hints of weirdness. That successful formula is intensified with her third LP, “Artpop.” That’s essentially what her music is, art pop. Imagine fusing Madonna with New Order and Nine Inch Nails; that’s what you get with most of this album.

Lyrically, “Artpop” is blunt. Themes of sexuality, girl power and drugs dominate this album.

Gaga proudly compares herself in a semi-British accent to Venus, the goddess of love [along with Venus’ Roman equivalent Aphrodite] in the spacey song “Venus.” “I can’t help the way I’m feelin’/goddess of love please take me to your leader,” sings Gaga. To go along with the sexual themes, she also sings, “Let’s blast off to a new dimension/in your bedroom.” She also name drops some planets of the solar system in the breakdown to give listeners an astronomy lesson, and shows off her inner Ke$ha in her voice.

Gaga brought friends for “Jewels N’ Drugs.” T.I., Too Short and Twista add high-speed poetry to this combination of rap and dubstep. Gaga meanwhile croons over lyrics pertaining to fame. Key changes and rhythm shuffles make this song a joyride from beginning to end, as if your ears are on a roller coaster. While Gaga splits vocal duties with the rap trio 50/50 to bring the surprise factor into action, it’s a bit overdone. There’s simply too much in this song to go around equally and tastefully.

R. Kelly makes a guest appearance on the groovy “Do What U Want.” Once again playing the sex card, Gaga and Kelly talk about getting together for a night. Kelly steals the second verse with tasteful vocals and a smooth falsetto. Gaga meanwhile shows she can still be the R&B diva with powerful vocal delivery.

Instrumentally, this song is the best on “Artpop.” The industrial dance rhythms with slap bass grooves and airy synth melodies make “Do What U Want” a sexy dance anthem.

“Artpop” is exactly what the title implies. It’s weird, danceable and catchy. Still, the album lacks depth. Fourteen out of the 15 songs are industrial foot stompers. The piano ballad, “Dope” is a nice break from the club atmosphere that is this album.

Gaga has one formula for most of the songs on “Artpop” and that’s to dance, dance, dance. Artists can add all the weirdness they want, but in the end, the same formula that’s used thousands of times before shows.

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