Sounds like: 8-bit 80s video game themes chewed up and spat out over a modern electro pop production peppered by an increasingly bizarre Gaga’s self-satire.
Move over Katy, the leak we have been truly waiting for has arrived! While a leak is a kick in the teeth for any artist, for the millions of faithful monsters and other pop watchers alike thirsting for new Gaga material, the premature arrival of lead single, Applause, from her upcoming LP ARTPOP was like a deluge upon the Sahara. Sweet heaven had bestowed upon us a gift.
Our dame du bizarre, the duchess of weird, Lady Gaga had been uncharacteristically quiet of late after cancelling her highly successful Born This Way Ball due to a serious hip injury. However, when her social media engine kicked back into high gear tantalizing us with snippets of the top secret ARTPOP project and the Applause single, the excitement and anticipation reached a fever pitch. Now that the track is here, does Gaga deserve a standing ovation, or do we pelt her with rotten tomatoes?
GAGA TAKES US “BACK TO THE FUTURE” (IN SOUND AT LEAST)
Applause essentially is the cyborg, newborn child of 80s new wave and synthpop; a Nintendo game; and a Broadway musical, all combined and incubated in a test tube somewhere by producer DJ White Shadow (who produced most of the Born This Way album). The dance ditty brings to mind some of that decade’s biggest acts like A-Ha, Human League, The Buggles and some of the odder ones like Thomas Dolby and Devo, the latter whose ultra-camp hit Whip It I sincerely expect her to burst into after each verse. Keeping up the 80s homage, even the single’s cover artwork is a tip of the fancy chapeau to flamboyant superstar David Bowie’s own artwork for his single Scary Monsters.
Still on the topic of reminding us of something, while I hate to bring up more Gaga and Madonna comparisons, as the track pulsates on the bridge it invokes the moody dance groove of Madge’s 2005 single Get Together – in this case, not reductive at all, but an appropriate build up to the energetic chorus.
Lyrically, Applause finds Gaga at once basking in her own glow, in an apparent egoistical call to worship for her larger-than-life Mother Monster persona, while at other points it seems more of a shameless admission of her continued addiction to modern society’s most powerful drug, fame.
Frankly, when it’s all over, this record does not have the striking, immediate “smash-hit” quality of her previous lead singles, Just Dance, Bad Romance nor Born This Way. After all, to live up to such lofty expectations is a Herculean challenge in itself, but that does NOT mean it is a bad song by any stretch of the imagination – far from! Undeniably a grower, after a few listens it is nearly impossible to resist chanting along to the earworm of a bridge, “I live for the applause, applause, applause, I live for the applause-plause…” and in Gaga’s line of work all you need is a killer hook.
TAKE A BOW?
Will this be another smash for Gaga to put under her belt? Certainly, the legions of her devoted fans will see to that. Is it a comparable masterpiece to Bad Romance? Not even close, but it is good enough to whet our appetites for more ARTPOP in November.
So put away your rotting fruits and veggies and give the New Yawk broad a round of applause, but for a standing ovation she’ll need to work the crowd a bit more.
CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL AUDIO FOR “APPLAUSE” BELOW:
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