The 14 track album that serves as the polarizing epicenter of Lady Gaga's musical legacy. This experimental record was marked by intense electronic production and lyrical subjects ranging from empowered burqa-wearing women to Gaga's unhealthy dependency on drugs. But rather than focusing this blog post on the songs (which I would definitely recommend everyone to hear), I will be focusing on the permanent dent that this record's reception put on Lady Gaga's career & mental health.
Released in 2013, ARTPOP, in every sense of the word, was meant to be a hybrid of contemporary art (such as the infamous Birth of Venus painting that's featured in the background of the album cover) and American pop culture. Gaga even described the album as a "reverse Warholian experiment" referencing Andy Warhol's work in merging art and pop-culture . Birth of Venus
However, this is when the hate-train started. ARTPOP was branded as ARTFLOP by fans and critics alike for not being able to sell as much as her previous album . It even performed badly on the charts and upon googling ARTPOP reviews, you'll find many articles on this. Some critics said she was trying too hard to be weird, & others found the album too sexual to appreciate. Moreover, most people didn't understand Lady Gaga's message of radical artistry in the album. I guess it's hard to appreciate experimentation from women when they're always expected to fit into a mould.
Bear in mind that Gaga has been no stranger to controversy; from her jarring meat dresses to her iconic red carpet looks, she has been able to use headline-catching stunts as a tool to get people to pay attention to her music. But that was something the audience had grown to love. ARTPOP was when the world collectively decided that " This is where we draw the line, stop being weird". Understandably, Gaga had a fallout with her management after this era, hired a new manager, and went into a recluse for a while before she made a jazz album and then a completely stripped down "non-weird" version of her self in 2016's Joanne before earning the publics approval again after the cataclysmic success of A Star is Born.
The question still remains though, was ARTPOP really that controversial? Or had Gaga's unpredictability become too predictable? In hindsight, one thing is pretty clear: ARTPOP is a musically cohesive, underrated record that started the EDM movement in pop music but still somehow doesn't seem to get the acknowledgement that it deserves.
Signing off, Ali Roman.