Last week I defended Lady Gaga’s 2013 album, Artpop, a smart, visionary pop record alternatively described as a “reverse Warholian expedition” into music, art, fashion and technology. Denounced by critics entirely in those terms, which are Gaga’s own terms, it would seem that her statements to the press only undermined her own success, which–artistically, financially–was pretty substantial. By consensus, however, the album’s perceived faults outweighed its actual merits: Gaga had failed in her lofty mission to “bring ARTculture into POP.” That failure, of course, depended on whether you were prepared to eat up every line of bullshit fed to you by pop’s resident Master of Fame. Seeing how the critics were stock full of it, I think it’s fair to say no one went hungry talking about Artpop.
As I wrote last week, some of the blame must rest with Gaga herself, whose press release for the album stinks of obscurantism. Now, press releases generally don’t reward close reading, or really any form of reading at all; they are largely perfunctory issues, focusing on an upcoming album while recounting past glories. But every now and then one comes along that truly raises the stakes. The release for Slow Suicide by Scott Stapp, for instance, which is akin to a confession and contains an Inspirational Message on the redemptive nature of faith, “despite the colossal messes we sometimes make of our lives.” Then there’s Stiff Record’s attempt to draw attention to a Johnny Borrell solo album, which depending on your outlook, will read either as a self-knowing joke, or as a public act of aggression.
Unlike those record company sponsored beat downs, the press release for Artpop is notable for its high level of pretense, drawing on Gaga’s elaborate fantasies of “The Factory” (cue Andy Warhol). Utilizing “the technological branch of HAUS OF GAGA” she conceives Artpop as an umbrella project incorporating “music, art, fashion and technology,” its aim to alter “the human experience with social media” by bringing “ARTculture into POP in a reverse Warholian expedition.” Clumsy lines – “exploring Gaga’s existence as a cultural interface, the user will share in the ‘adrenaline of fame’” – tell us what the project is about without giving us a reason to care. Hers is the language of technology, which as Norman Mailer describes it is “any language which succeeds in stripping itself of any moral content.”
For all its pretensions, Gaga’s manifesto for Artpop might have worked in practice had it actually reflected the album’s content, at which point the discerning listener might simply turn up their nose and shut off their ears. Which is exactly what happened. As it turns out, the album is great for different reasons; conceptually ambitious, yes, it’s also musically dazzling, lyrically revealing, unusually funny, genuinely weird and catchy as hell. But you’d never know it.
Lady Gaga’s Press Release for Artpop in Full
Built by TechHAUS, the technological branch of HAUS OF GAGA, the app itself is a musical and visual engineering system that combines music, art, fashion, and technology with a new interactive worldwide community — “the auras”. Altering the human experience with social media, we bring ARTculture into POP in a reverse Warholian expedition.
Exploring Gaga’s existence as a cultural interface, the user will share in the ‘adrenaline of fame’ as they build and share their own projects, chat with one another, and watch in real-time on a virtual globe as ARTPOP explodes onto the physical and virtual universe at once on November 11, our “BIG BANG!” On this day HAUS OF GAGA venges with forte to bring the music industry into a new age; an age where art drives pop, and the artist once again is in control of the ‘icon’.
In turn, the album ARTPOP musically mirrors Gaga’s creative process as she passes through the mediums of each artist she collaborates with, scoring a blueprint of her journey. The result, a “rage” of electronic passion and fury, defining each artistic process from beginning to end, ARTPOP could mean anything. But for her, this is a celebration of obsession. And on November 10, she will host an evening of artRave exhibiting Haus of Gaga’s projects as well as collaborations with Inez & Vinoodh, Robert Wilson, Marina Abramovic, Jeff Koons.
• Artpop Goes The Weasel: Three Glimpses Into The Deflation Of A Superstar by Nick Messitte
• Artpop Goes The Weasel: A Second Glimpse Into The Deflation Of A Superstar by Nick Messitte
• Artpop Goes The Weasel: Part Three by Nick Messitte