December 8, 2013
For me, Lady Gaga is the one whose music makes me feel inspired every time I listen to it. (Even my parents agree that listening to her songs makes you feel all pumped and ready to go!) Sometimes, I may not even like the song when I first hear it, but the more I listen, the more I love it. It is the same way with ARTPOP. I really feel she has grown so much since her Fame era and I love this album with all my heart just like the previous three albums. I wanted to write about this album, but due to my super busy schedule right now plus I'm a lazy bum, I never got to do it. (Just like what happened to Yeezus...) I decided I should break it down into one song a time. (Hint hint, links embedded throughout the post.)
The post title is totally appropriate because 1) I feel jazzed up after listening to her music 2) I'm reviewing "Dope" today! "Dope" (click for spotify link...they have a web player now) is the 13th track of the album and was the last song to be released as a single prior to the album's release. It serves as the slow, emotional, dramatic, personal ballad of the album, sorta like "You and I" on Born This Way. I think it's the most emotional song she's ever done and it completely takes over you. In slurred speeches and simple composition with her playing the piano, she starts out singing about drinking and it quickly escalates into full explosion of powerful and personal vocal about needing, with dire desperation, someone she loves but lost for some reason. The whole song remains very confessional in words like "my heart would break without you / might not awake without you", "don't leave me I / I'd hate myself for all my life", "each day I cry", "I'm sorry and I love you". Even though the song is titled "Dope" and she sings about "12 lonely steps [towards drug recovery]", I think the song is less about the drug and more about wanting to fix the relationship. The lyrics is not lacking in references either. She mentions Eric Clapton's "Bell Bottom Blues", which has a similar feeling in terms of lyrics; and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" (most beautiful 8 minutes you'll ever listen), which is also melancholic.
A particular fragile moment (besides the completely en pointe vocal throughout) I noticed was when she breaths in quite heavily at 2:46 after belting out "been hurtin' low from livin' high for so long" to prepare for the chorus immediately after. If you listen carefully, it's like a mix between a shaky sniff during a cry and simply breathing in. Planned or not, it is quite a good placement there. The production is great even though it's quite minimal (which is the point.)
The cover of the single is pretty cool as well. It is a mash between Michael Jackson (hat, hair, pale skin) and Halloween-chic (teeth, obvs, and outfit). I'm fairly certain she's wearing a Thom Browne jacket, which I love. Thom Browne is a dramatic menswear-turned womenswear designer and this is a typical piece she's wearing. Her skin looks mannequin-like and the bruises remind me of those on the mannequins in the MoMA Alexander McQueen exhibition ("Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty", 2011). The whole thing is an interesting juxtaposition between personal seriousness and jokes. To me, it's pretty much her being really vulnerable while poking fun of herself and be like, "I'm ridiculous and I'm real. So what?" to the media. Very courageous. I love it!
After listening to it for so many times, it makes me feel as bare as she is and unfortunately reminds me of heartbreaks and stuff. So...completely recommend and remains as one of my favorite tracks of the album.
Finals aside, I had to write this because I'm completely obsessed. Check back for more reviews on the album!