ARTPOP review by Lady Gaga

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  • Released: Nov 11, 2013
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 3.8 (90 votes)
Lady Gaga: ARTPOP
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Sound — 4
Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, has become one of the most well-known artists to emerge in the last decade. Bolstered by mega-hits such as "Just Dance," "Poker Face," and "Born This Way," Lady Gaga has become an indisputable part of our pop culture. While Lady Gaga certainly has some rock roots (check out her cover of "D'yer Ma'ker"), this album doesn’t really show that.

Honestly, I actually (forgive me for being facetious) thought this was going to be a great album when when it started with a mysterious kind of desert feel that had some well-mixed guitars and a very catchy riff of a sort. Of course, this feeling only lasted for literally the first minute until the electronic pop came in and more or less ruined it. Especially on the first song, "Aura," the electronic verse is not catchy and as much as it seems to try, the sections do not mesh seamlessly. Lady Gaga does deserve some points at least for making an opener that’s actually designed to open the album unlike most pop albums that are just a collection of songs aiming to be Top 40 hits.

In any event, the rest of this album is mediocre for the most part. Aside from her lyrics, which appear to contain something meaningful, almost everything else becomes somewhat predictable yet not catchy at the same time, spelling a recipe for disaster. She deserves points again for trying to evolve as a musician, for this is not the same type of electronic pop as her last album. However, in an unappealing way, she tries too hard. She somehow manages to try too hard in her evolution yet still get most of her songs to sound the same. This characteristic makes this album somewhat of a chore to listen to, and honestly this is one of the worst characteristics I can think of for a pop album.

To the instrumentation, it's really non-existent. Except for the very cool guitar parts at the beginning of the first song, this album is almost devoid of true instruments. Almost the entire album is programmed synthesizer and sampled, unnatural, electronic drum tracks. This could all be forgiven if the electronics were used well. But to the contrary, they create a lack of dynamics for the most part and except for the first song, "Aura," they do not play anything interesting in terms of notes. Even on that song, the semi-interesting cacophony of notes does not mesh well with Lady Gaga's voice, so the benefit/uniqueness is more or less negated. Other than this first song, the electronic parts are mostly uninspired, unappealing, and somewhat boring. In addition, the piano parts are incredibly predictable (probably the most predictable facet of this album) and are used on only a couple of songs to begin with.

Who knows? Maybe Lady Gaga's continued growth will lead to something pleasant on her next album. But for right now, she is still a work in progress, as she manages to use a plethora of ideas that are both confusing and like sounding at the same time. There are only two songs that can be considered good on this album and they are "Manicure" and "Applause." "Aura" is interesting to listen to but it comes across as odd more than anything else.

Lyrics — 7
More than anything else, Lady Gaga's vocals afford her the fame she currently has. As in most pop music, the vocals are the most prominent and important part of this album. Lady Gaga turns in an above average performance that is not without its missteps. Like everything else on the album, her vocals definitely point toward a creative evolution, but an evolution that is certainly unfinished.

While her bass-like tone of voice comes across as powerful at some points, it is usually very diluted by overproduction. At some points, especially on the ballads, for example "Dope," this tone of voice is unsuited to the music and/or topic matter at hand. Lady Gaga doesn't adjust vocally to her ballads and they almost feel like Lady Gaga is sneering at them, and not in thought-out, effective way.

Lyrically, Lady Gaga still succeeds at making something heartfelt and meaningful out the old sex-drugs-relationships adage. Others have said that Lady Gaga is out to revolutionize the world and on this album, like all her others, it definitely feels that way. I just wish changing the world didn’t get in the way of good music.

Overall, this is a somewhat below average vocal performance when measured against her previous albums, but an above average vocal performance when measured against the rest of the musical world.

Overall Impression — 4
In total, "ARTPOP" is not a very pleasant listening experience. Aside from the overproduction that essentially bleeds through the inner workings of the album, there are too many ideas to create a cohesive, catchy listening environment. Again, it is very odd how there is such a jumbled overabundance of ideas yet all of the songs still sound the same.

One of the things I will give Lady Gaga credit for is evolving musically. She is just not there yet and this album is definitely more of a stepping stone than a magnum opus. The best two songs on the album, consequently, the two most likely to be hits, are "Manicure" and "Applause" and the song, "Aura" is worth listening to because of the cool desert-like guitar part at the beginning of it.

78 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MaggaraMarine
    I don't care about the lack of guitars on the album/music style - not all music guitarists listen to needs to have guitar in it (many people listen to jazz and nobody seems to bitch about jazz not having guitars/not having guitar as a main instrument). It doesn't bother me that UG does reviews of pop albums. But they always seem pretty negative. It's kind of becoming a cliche that UG reviews a new pop album and gives it a low score. "Honestly, I actually (forgive me for being facetious) thought this was going to be a great album when when it started with a mysterious kind of desert feel that had some well-mixed guitars and a very catchy riff of a sort. Of course, this feeling only lasted for literally the first minute until the electronic pop came in and more or less ruined it." Well, it's Lady Gaga, what do you expect? All her previous songs have been electronic pop. Why would you have this kind of expectations when you know that the artist's main style is electronic pop?
    Tag43
    "This could all be forgiven if the electronics were used well. But to the contrary, they create a lack of dynamics for the most part and except for the first song, "Aura," they do not play anything interesting in terms of notes." He's not saying its bad because of the electronic pop, he's saying that they could've done much more with the instrumentation.
    sn00ze
    Almost every trash/doom/you-name-it metal album reviewed here gets 7+/10, so don't be surprised.
    EyesWideOpen
    Thrash metal. There's no such genre as trash metal.
    TunerAddict
    all metal is trash metal
    xtrife
    of course that's all true, but this is a guitar site. Would a xbox review get realistic ratings on a playstation forum? maybe, maybe not, but you should at least expect it not to!
    Ibanezrocker800
    I come to Ultimate GUITAR to read about GUITAR related things. Lady Gaga is not GUITAR related just because there's a guitar in one of her songs.
    MaggaraMarine
    Yes, but people like you seem not to whine about jazz albums that get reviewed and aren't really guitar related stuff. And as I said, many guitarists also listen to music without guitars. This is a site for guitarists (and bassists and drummers), not a site for guitar related stuff only. Sometimes it just does good to hear some music without guitars.
    stereosmiles
    They also seem like they were written by 14 year-old scientists... Speaking of which, can someone please calculate the percentage of total song length that is a Madonna rip-off? I'm guessing about 90%. But at lease the reviewer didn't mention just how damn odd-looking she is.
    N3WW4V3N1NJ4
    Why is this even on UG?
    xyz66
    Because aside from forums and tabs, UG also does reviews about gear and music.
    jbm351
    Im with N3WW4V3NINJ4 on this, why is it on here?
    dooncan
    Because, despite the majority of people on here being metalheads, some may be interested in this.
    nor.omar.9
    How many guitar players do you know listen to lady gaga to appreciate the guitar parts? Because there's SO MUCH GUITAR ON THIS ALBUM!!!
    hereticfive
    Music does not need guitar in it to be enjoyable.
    nor.omar.9
    I never said that I don't enjoy music without guitar. I love plenty of music genres. But this is a website where most of the users are guitar players, since it's originally who the website was created for. And even though the site has expanded to other musicians, not many of UG's users are very passionate about this genre of music. Having this review on this website is pretty unfair for it to be honest.
    nor.omar.9
    THE POINT IS. This website was originally created for guitar players. And eventually expanded to other musicians who typically play in band from rock to jazz and anything in between. BUT go ahead and browse the forums and speak to the users, and there REALLY aren't many who are interested in this kind of music. This album being reviewed here on a website where very little of the users passionately listen to this genre of music is pretty unfair for it.
    KISS mania
    This site also has Bass, Ukulele and Drum tabs. It's not just about Guitar anymore
    Jimjambanx
    Money. This is a new, overhyped pop album by an artist the masses won't shut up about. UG recognizes this, so they make a lousy review of an album that they don't even like, just so they can generate ad revenue from randoms google searching this album. UG needs to stop this, bashing an album we don't care about just for the sake of a quick buck is BS, they can at least stop putting this crap on the front page.
    margaret.reda.3
    I must give my thanks to Ashley, who posted here last week comment about system she uses to earn onlin℮... I've got my FIRST check total of $3550, pretty cool. I am so exicted, this is the first time I actually earned something. I am going to work even harder new and I can't wait for next week payment. You can try it for yourself> - W­W­W.F­­B4­­9.­­C­OM
    stagepotato
    I dont understand why there's a review for this on ultimate-guitar and not for several albums from bands who should be reviewed here instead.
    lemmyisgod97
    She's overrated, she relies on stupid antics and publicity stunts.
    Nero Galon
    I don't know... All I seem to hear about is what she is wearing, which nobody really makes a fuss of at all here.
    Kylianvb
    She's actually underrated when it comes to her musical knowledge and skills... It's just sad that she makes pretty awful music these days.
    SladeLeonhart
    ultimate-GUITAR
    Metallicaloveu
    I listened to this and didn't like it.. but you should know there is quite a bit of guitar work on this album.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    I quote: "Honestly, I actually (forgive me for being facetious) thought this was going to be a great album when when it started with a mysterious kind of desert feel that had some well-mixed G-U-I-T-A-R-S and a very catchy riff of a sort."
    Vinushka
    The reason this is on UG is because they're trying to bring in more traffic by reviewing popular releases, hence the recent reviews of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, etc etc. Maybe a few years ago this was a community for guitarists and fans of rock and metal, but now it's a business, and since their Tab Plus or Tab Pro or whatever it is doesn't offer anything unique they're relying on increased traffic to pay the bills. TL;DR - UG needs money and doesn't care about catering exclusively to it's core fanbase.
    bunnyh0pz
    Well they're not gonna do a very good job of attracting pop fans if they give every pop album a 4.5/10 or lower.
    alfie9000
    Lady Gaga ain't that bad in comparison to other pop stars. Hell, shes better than some of the "rockstars" out their atm. But this album isn't great shes found a formula and its worn off now. for me, her best will always be her debut.
    FlyingPirahna
    I like some of her stuff, but the four or five songs I've heard from Artpop have been messy and flatly uninteresting. Nothing that would scream "listen to the whole album" at me.
    Ookarus
    I like Venus, Applause, Do What U Want, and Aura, but the rest is pretty bad.
    Raven_Flight
    The Born This Way album was really good. This one however... :/ just a couple of good songs and the rest is pretty awful. Well, maybe awful is bit harsh, just not for me. I think production is excellent, btw. Aura is the highlight definitely, best LG song so far.
    Emilym80
    Predictable review, to be honest. Imo this album is her most musically diverse, drawing from hip-hop (particularly trap), the opening track, the marching feel in Venus etc. Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion but this review comes off as sounding disappointed that she didn't make a metal record... Not sure why you would've expected anything else than what was on here if you'd been sort of keeping track of her work. Also, something doesn't have to be played on a "true instrument" for it to be considered instrumentation.
    SkepsisMetal
    Would still rather listen to this than that ronnie radke whatever the cluster**** the new "album" will be.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    I always thought she sounded like Christina Aguilera (or however you spell that shit) in some way. so it's just another popstar coming out of a pop star making machine that's on repeat for me
    Genrecore
    Fuck this pop shit, where the FUCK is the GUITAR? I'm considering on moving to Ultimate metal, death metal underground, metal archive or hell seven-string forum. I went to this site because I wanted to hear GUITAR BASED MUSIC. P.S. I don't give a **** about lady gaga, I will rate it low regardless. I didn't even listen to it yet.
    Kueller917
    "I will rate it low regardless. I didn't even listen to it yet." Oh well don't you sound like quite the open-minded individual.
    dollyDagger
    Safe to say that Zedd is the best producer alive atm! Not a fan of Gar Gar, but Zedd has produced some incredible tracks on here. And Madeon has got a few tracks on here too.
    Priad-Luabe
    just gave this album a listen, it's bizarre to say the least. behind all her avant-garde antics she can be a good song writer, but this album has left me bewildered, there are some good dance bits in some songs and catchy choruses in others when at some points i actually laughed out loud. on the whole it feels disjoint
    BwareDWare94
    While this woman does make some stunningly good music, I think it must be said that she's misusing her talent. Whether all the electonic fanboys and girls out there like it or not, I'd say that the majority of listeners don't take it seriously because it's not something that can actually be performed live. I'm sorry, but hitting "Play" is not a performance. You give this woman traditional instruments and she could do so much more and make a much larger impact on the people who actually matter--all of the smart, truly individual people who rightfully leave mainstream pop (at least the electronic shit) out of their general listening routine. I think she'd be fantastic at folk or Americana. Something that stretches her vocal talents but also sounds like real music and not a goddamn video game.
    AwesomeOne3
    Typical UG, putting a pop album on here. I do know that rock and metal albums don't release everyday, though. But it is a good thing it got a low review.
    Andy2k64
    Love how you can predict people asking "why is this on ug?" before the comments even load! Applause actually sounded okay. Liked the 80s sound to it. That's about as much as I know about this album! Say what you want but she sells a hell of a lot of albums and singles!
    bobbyjoedik
    Everyone let's be real, artists like Lady Gaga are dumbing America down to what it is today. This is MTV Glam bullshit
    Slash-Hudson
    Lets say Katy Perry... there are plenty of guitars in her Songs! At least in her Liveband.. also in Rihannas Band (NUNO BETTENCOURT from EXTREME??)
    Priad-Luabe
    most pop acts i've seen live footage of have backing bands, and in some cases - such as rita ora's rip (not 100% on the name), are actually really good.
    Styx
    Ok they probably should change the page name to ''ultimate-music'' or something. This is not the first shity pop/techno-whatever album they review and i'm guessing it won't be the last.
    Sir_Taffey
    I think whether we like it or not this is where music is going to end up. Everything being electronic, so why not embrace the change and open up a little? Hell I don't like it but if I can learn to live with it on the radio then I can listen to it and have some variation in my life as well. You don't eat mac and cheese for every meal, so different genres of music might be a good idea too.