Although ‘dull’ isn’t a word you would usually associate with the avant-garde, publicity stunt-loving ‘Queen of Monsters,’ the first time I listened to Lady Gaga’s new album, I skipped pretty much every song. The only one I managed to listen to all the way through was piano ballad “Dope,” which abandons Gaga’s predictable synth-laden, EDM sound and features emotional, stripped-down vocals. Regrettably, despite its fresh sound, it remains a mediocre track, and falls short of the exciting energy of her 2011 release Born This Way.
ARTPOP continues Gaga’s obsession with fame, fashion, and pop culture in general—and you better believe that it gets tiresome. Many of the tracks on this album are immediately forgettable, and sound like rejects from Born This Way, or even her first album, 2008’s The Fame.
For example, “Fashion!” and “Donatella”—which are pretty much the exact same song theme-wise—directly mirror the sentiments of Born This Way’s “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion,” as well as “Beautiful Dirty Rich” from The Fame. I’ll give you one guess what the topic of those songs are.
Some tracks are also embarrassing and obviously trying too hard to be controversial. Evidence of this are self-explanatory songs “Sexxx Dreams,” and “Jewels and Drugs” (featuring T.I., Too Short, and Twista), which contain a background track that sounds like it was taken from 50 Cent’s first album. Even though Gaga has never been celebrated for her subtlety, this time, her bluntness misses the mark.
It’s this predictability that makes it feel like Gaga’s shtick is starting to run thin; what used to be groundbreaking and individual in her music now feels stale and forgettable. And for an artist like Gaga who relies on as much attention as she can get, being banal is probably the worst turn of events possible.