Note: Originally on Quail Bell Magazine on October 14th, 2015.
And she couldn’t be happier.
Indeed, it seems that Gaga disappeared from the spotlight for a while. Time passed since the release of Born This Way, perhaps too long, before her most personal album Artpop was finally released in November of 2013. However, some consider it a commercial flop, comparing her previous album successes. The Fame has sold 15 million copies worldwide. The extension of The Fame, titled The Fame Monster, sold 1.5 million, and Born This Way sold over a million copies in its first week. Right around the time Artpop was released, Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz and Katy Perry’sPrism were gaining momentum. Cyrus’ antics and Perry’s already exploding fame overshadowed the once meat-covered popstar. Though Artpop was number one on the charts at 258,000 copies sold in the first week, it quickly fell behind as the 4th bestselling album of a female pop star.
Her singles from the album didn’t last long on the radio, with the exception of “Applause”. “G.U.Y.” and “Do What U Want” lived briefly on the charts, maybe because on the surface, they appeared to be the sexual pop singles .
A reverse on Andy Warhol’s “pop art”, Artpop is a personal aesthetic album, paired with artwork by Jeff Koons. In between the time between Born This Way and Artpop, Gaga has experienced a hip injury and was struggling with a self-confessed marijuana addiction. Artpop is the only album, according to Gaga, that did not rely on the influence of marijuana, other than songs describing her struggle with the addiction, “Dope” and “Mary Jane Holland”. “Mary Jane Holland” becomes a self-explanatory anthem of Gaga’s addiction, an alter ego.
As she desperately tried to stay true to who she was, Gaga believed marijuana was the only way to get away from the overwhelming fame. The beginning lines of “Mary Jane Holland” are “Lady of the ‘Dam won’t/ Be a slave to the blonde or the culture of the popular,” blatantly refusing to bow down even to her “stage self” she refers to as “the blonde.” The cycle briefly brings her back to her roots, represented by her literal brunette roots in the lines “when I ignite the flame and put you in my mouth the grass eats up my insides and my brunette starts to sprout.” She opened up about the album and her struggle with addiction on Elvis Duran and the Morning Show. She warned listeners that though it is not as common, marijuana can be an addiction, one that could convince you that your best isn’t good enough without “inspiration” from other sources.
In regards to Artpop, she said “I’m really very fascinated with this transformation inside of me. I’m feeling very happy and confident with the work I’ve created.”
Admittedly, when I first listened through the album, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It’s an acquired taste, but it is one that I’ve become obsessed with.