“Pop culture was in art, now, art's in pop culture in me,” Lady Gaga sings on the first single off her gem 2013 album “ARTPOP.” The third out of her five studio albums, with its heavy EDM influences, explores themes of lust, mythology, beauty and fame and is worth revisiting to prepare for her leading role in "A Star is Born," premiering Oct. 5.
This album is for listeners who want to step out of their comfort zone. It’s edgy, raw and different than any other music Gaga has released. When Gaga started out her music career with hits like “Just Dance” and “LoveGame” her lyrics and imagery were unequivocally sensual, but her sound was pure pop. Her first two albums, “The Fame” and “Born This Way” drew tons of commercial success, both going platinum, and gave Gaga her status as an emerging pop princess.
But after selling millions of albums and touring the world, Gaga said she wanted to make an album for herself and her friends that emulated music you’d hear at a club. Gaga told MTV she wanted to grow personally and show the world she could be more than the outlandish outfits and makeup audiences knew her for.
Gaga wanted to take a risk in the recording studio, and I think it paid off. "ARTPOP" is sonically different from any of her other work, showcasing heavy electronic dance and synth influences. The album features songs “Aura” and “G.U.Y.,” dance tracks with sprawling beats and overly edited vocals.
Multiple genres are explored on the album besides EDM, including hip hop on the T.I.-featured “Jewels N’ Drugs” and disco on the fun and fabulous “Fashion!”
Gaga was a co-writer for every song on the album. Her candid lyrics explore everything from her love of marijuana in “Mary Jane Holland,” to getting dolled up for a night out on “MANiCURE.” She mentions various aspects of Greek and Roman mythology in her lyrics, referring to Greek gods Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and pleasure and Himeros, "god of sexual desire." The track “Venus” explores themes of love and desire through the lens of Gaga as a sort of alien astronaut wanting to orbit into a romantic encounter.
Gaga lets us into the humorous side of her psyche on some tracks like “Donatella.” Her use of monologues and voice-overs in her work is fresh and interesting as many artists refrain from letting fans in on their own personal views.
Gaga has always been known for shocking audiences, but listening to “ARTPOP” takes you on a journey into an electro-charged club atmosphere that is unlike anything I’ve heard before.
"ARTPOP’s" purpose is not to show off Gaga’s incredible voice —she later came out with 2016's "Joanne" to do that. It was to showcase where pushing her own creative process would take her. Branching out can be scary, but it ultimately pays off.