Watch the official commercial for Voce Viva

Sign in to follow this  
opinion

A Retrospective Analysis: The Fall Before ARTPOP

NotMyFlop

Please read my Retrospective Reviews of The Fame, The Fame Monster and Born This Way. It will help contextualize some of my comments in this analysis, since all of these parts are operating as massive lookback of her career, a review of Chromatica and how they are all connected. 

It's been articulated by Lady Gaga that people love the fall of a celebrity; she performed that notion in 2009 and discussed it multiple times since. It was prophetic, in a way, that she experienced one of the most brutal pitfalls in the social media age. ARTPOP, for better and worse, was a disaster. In the seven years since release, it has become so synonymous with "flop" that it sprung a new life as a verb. How many times have people called someone's work their "ARTPOP Moment"? In truth, the music doesn't hold up in quite the way her previous albums had (more on that tomorrow). However, it would be completely unfair to dismiss the failure of ARTPOP exclusively of the quality (or lackthereof) of the music. 

When Applause debuted at #4, that was the result of alot more than just a sensationalized feud with Katy Perry. It was a moment that was inevitably coming and had much more to do with her persona than anyone's opinion of the song. While some may paint Marry The Night's failure to catch momentum as the beginning of the end, there were signs that "Gaga fatigue", coined by @ARTGOD, had started in June 2010. It may say drastic to point to three years in the past, during her peak, but think about it. In a career so jam-packed with high-profile moments, the success of Alejandro and the subsequent video is blink-or-you'll-miss-it moment. 

Alejandro as a song is catchy, classic Gaga. Not exactly the most radio-friendly single, it came in a time everything Gaga touched was successful. Her artistic liberties hadn't met any restrictive boundaries from her management or the general public abroad. Gaga could literally do whatever she pleased, and it was that power that led her to create the infamous music video. 

Gaga always relied heavily on the visuals of her works. As the budget increased, the campiness of the videos increased. Most, if not all, of her videos had flirted with the art of darkness, but done so in a sleek way. It wasn't morbid or overtly shocking. Within the first few seconds of the Alejandro video, you knew that style was a thing of the past. It was very shocking for the general public: explicitly queer in a way no other of her videos had been, "satanic" imagery throughout and darker settings were enough to send people into overdrive. 

With Gaga's platform being so extremely large, and covering every corner of the internet, the immediate concern was that this was not safe for children. To be fair, it's not exactly an invalid criticism. 2010 was too new into the social media era for companies, parents and kids alike to figure out methods to filter content to be age-appropriate. It could be shared, sent and viewed at any second. However, there were very few hyper-concerned about their children. That excuse was oft-used as a way to blanket homophobia, or people scared that a sacred institution could be challenged. There was a lot of ignorance surrounding the criticism of the video; people pretending that art isn't allowed to be shocking. While it's easy to dismiss the ignorance, the impact it has is very real. 

For the next two years, controversy followed: the meat dress, Born This Way (song), Judas, speaking out against Obama and don't ask don't tell, asking Russia to arrest her, etc. The same naysayers from the Alejandro video followed, collecting followers as she broke too many unspoken conservative rules about music. Women are supposed to sexual or empowering; any other lane was not allowed. Despite being able to maintain her stratospheric success, too many people felt alienated by her presence and turned off. 

Even if you were an admirer of Gaga, or at least believed in her art and wasn't detracted, it was hard not to feel exhausted by her overwhelming presence. From January 2009-January 2013, she had amassed a whopping 16 entries into the BBH100, several of which became classics and household songs. She had a huge online following, every talk show wanted her, every award show praised her. If she didn't have a successful single at the time, her over-the-top antics, political stances and fashion kept the headlines geared towards her. It's a stroke of brilliance to keep people interested for so long, especially when attention spans online are proven to be small. 

But eventually, the attention span fades. 

When the aforementioned Marry The Night failed to catch momentum in comparison to her other singles (It peaked at #29 in December 2011), it was a sign that things were slowing down. Despite receding (slightly) into the limelight, it wasn't much later that she began to tease a new record was coming. Speculation began to build, even though she was still on tour promoting Born This Way. Some leaks, some unreleased songs being performed on tour and some discussions later, there was proof Lady Gaga was not done being as ambitious as possible. 

Gaga's work ethic was very obviously in overdrive. When concerns rose about her physical health, they were very quickly validated by the hip break heard around the world. It could've - and maybe should've - stunted her career permanently. Instead, she went to the campy with a 24k gold wheelchair (becoming eerily similar to the Paparazzi video). Despite the foreboding war with management and stories that would eventually come out, nothing behind the scenes could stop the fact that people had too much of Lady Gaga. 

As she's mentioned, the plight of the celebrity is the most fascinating to watch. Since The Fame and The Fame Monster explored this; and the Paparazzi video showed it, there is a wonder if some of the more head-scratching decisions were intentional. With the narrative-rebranding and reputation-redeeming arc the defined the post-ARTPOP era (and again, shown in the Paparazzi video), maybe every record and decision she made all still was a commentary on fame. Since Born This Way isn't overtly about fame, maybe it all symbolized what celebrities do with their platforms - go too far, push too many buttons and risk too much. Despite Gaga never being "cancelled"; she was as close as you could get in 2013. 

This is important to discuss because Gaga undeniably reflects on the pain she's experienced as a celebrity on Chromatica. There is speculation that Fun Tonight is about her former manager. 911 is clearly about the mental health issues she's oft-discussed. These experiences couldn't have influenced without her radical high, and slow dismantling that occurred between 2010-2013. If looking at her career and music as a performative commentary on fame, it earns Chromatica as a pure stroke of brilliance. 

Now that the narrative of her career had begun to shift, it was time to see how it would affect a new project. Enter heavily-misunderstood and unfairly-criticized ARTPOP... 

'A Retrospective Review: ARTPOP' is coming tomorrow. Thank you so much for reading this and any discussions that stem from this! I appreciate it so much. 

  • Like 7
  • YAAAS 1
  • Love 10
  • Thanks 2

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
BustA911

I love reading these kinds of things. I never understood the backlash and the trauma she got from 2013 cuz I was too young. I was just aware that there is media backlash and people labeled here a flop. Back then, her singles from ARTPOP weren’t that as successful as BTW and found it odd cuz its Gaga.

  • YAAAS 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quartz

Bro, you have a gift with words. Your article tackles complex ideas without rambling. Please tag me in your next one.

Inside, we are really made the same. 🕊
  • Like 4
  • Love 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
ARTGOD

Loved it! :kara:

I think Gaga definitely failed to “read the room” before ARTPOP.

There were many signs that people were:

1- Getting tired of her persona.

2-Shifting their interest from extravagant and over the top artists to more honest and down to earth artists.

I think if she wanted to keep herself at the top she had to reinvent her image and her sound. Instead she just doubled down, she made her craziest, biggest, most ambitious and most “Gaga” album.

That obviously didn’t work, people were already sick of her and aching to see her fall, getting more of what they are already tired of is not gonna work.

I think with ARTPOP she learned the hard way that there was no possible way to continue with her Gaga persona. She had done it all, people didn’t want it anymore, and trying to make it go even further would only kill her.

I think Gaga’s eventual reinvention had to happen for her to have longevity as an artist, and it honestly should’ve happened after BTW. She just hopelessly tried to delay the inevitable with ARTPOP.

  • Like 2
  • Love 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
daisy

Alejandro video is the worst thing Gaga did.. It destroyed her best song... 

Also it started all the Madonna feud which Gaga fueled by copying express yourself.. However beside Alejandro video and the BTW controversy, btw era was amazing... She did a lot of amazing thing but she was trashed.. ARTPOP is also a good pop record with a huge potential.. I think people around her made poor decision while Gaga had all her problems... 

There is no excuse for how media tried to destroy her... 

  • Love 1
  • Sad 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven

Such a great article. I was a fan back then and from I can remember, it was exhausting to defend her to my all friends, because everyone was tired of her, and I had to prove to everyone that she was not over yet. ARTPOP didn't help either but once she did the Oscars, then The Superbowl and finally ASIB, I think it's safe to say that she did the best to save her career and that finally worked. 

  • Love 2

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
ElektrikUniCorn

Gaga should read your reviews :kara:

Come come, unwrapp me!
  • Like 1
  • Love 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
NotMyFlop
1 hour ago, RahRuhRough said:

I love reading these kinds of things. I never understood the backlash and the trauma she got from 2013 cuz I was too young. I was just aware that there is media backlash and people labeled here a flop. Back then, her singles from ARTPOP weren’t that as successful as BTW and found it odd cuz its Gaga.

I was in a similar boat. I never understood in 2013 because I was so obsessed with Gaga and I couldn't fathom such a thing as overexposure. I also was too young to care about management, controversy, etc. I was so upset at how ARTPOP played out, but as I have grown older I realize it's much deeper than the music. 

48 minutes ago, Quartz said:

Bro, you have a gift with words. Your article tackles complex ideas without rambling. Please tag me in your next one.

Will do! Thank you so much. :runhug: I really appreciate the kind words. 

42 minutes ago, ARTGOD said:

I think if she wanted to keep herself at the top she had to reinvent her image and her sound. Instead she just doubled down, she made her craziest, biggest, most ambitious and most “Gaga” album.

That obviously didn’t work, people were already sick of her and aching to see her fall, getting more of what they are already tired of is not gonna work.

I think with ARTPOP she learned the hard way that there was no possible way to continue with her Gaga persona. She had done it all, people didn’t want it anymore, and trying to make it go even further would only kill her.

I think Gaga’s eventual reinvention had to happen for her to have longevity as an artist, and it honestly should’ve happened after BTW. She just hopelessly tried to delay the inevitable with ARTPOP.

Personally (and I'll explore this in more depth in my reviews) that she should have taken a multi-year break. She never did, even now. She just reduced the "publicity stunts" and how much she was in the spotlight. She's been non-stop since the beginning, and I think that hurt her so much in 2013. 

 

38 minutes ago, daisy said:

There is no excuse for how media tried to destroy her... 

Period! Media are followers though. I studied it, and it's so sad how much it's become a business now. Since the GP hated her, dragging her got more clicks, exposure and views; which leads to $$$. It's exploitation at best. 

 

30 minutes ago, Steven said:

once she did the Oscars, then The Superbowl and finally ASIB, I think it's safe to say that she did the best to save her career and that finally worked. 

Yes! Her career rebounding is honestly so historic. It makes me so proud to be a stan! 

13 minutes ago, ElektrikUniCorn said:

Gaga should read your reviews :kara:

Thank you. :kara: My dream is to actually sit down with her and do a multi-part interview, similar to how I am structuring these reviews and question her on all the good and bad. 

  • Like 1
  • Love 5

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
Esme Squalor

Please tag me in your next ones! These reviews are so interesting and I could spend hours reading more in-depth ones. 

  • Love 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
Runway

Yes. Alejandro was definitely the beginning of the end of the first part of her career (2008-2013)

  • Love 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
HorusRa2
1 hour ago, NotMyFlop said:

Even if you were an admirer of Gaga, or at least believed in her art and wasn't detracted, it was hard not to feel exhausted by her overwhelming presence.

I feel that is a little too much of a generalization. I, like many people, loved the Marry The Night performances, videos and visuals. And many fans, including myself, were so excited with the VMA promo that including Heavy Metal Lover and the subsequent NYE performance gave hope that it was going to be a single as well. I do agree that the general public began to have fatigue from Gaga during the Alejandro single because it was the perfect summer song (as well as California Girls). 

I disagree that the song was not radio friendly. I mean, it's an Ace of Base inspired song. It was definitely a radio friendly song but the dark visuals accompanied with an otherwise very campy pop song is what made the song much less received whereas at the time California Girls had a fun, bright and simple video. 

But in general, I totally agree that Gaga kept pushing the limits of what could be acceptable from a mainstream pop girl and it climaxed during ARTPOP vs Prism era. 

But also at the same time, fast forward to now and I would argue that Gaga will be more remembered because of the times she pushed the limits even though her commercial profile is at least somewhat damaged from the ARTPOP era. Katy (as an example) on the other hand continued to color inside the lines and she's no longer in the book at least as of today. 

  • Love 2

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
NotMyFlop
6 minutes ago, HorusRa2 said:

But also at the same time, fast forward to now and I would argue that Gaga will be more remembered because of the times she pushed the limits even though her commercial profile is at least somewhat damaged from the ARTPOP era. Katy (as an example) on the other hand continued to color inside the lines and she's no longer in the book at least as of today. 

I really liked your comparison to California Gurls; I think that's a perfect representation of what Alejandro could've been if the video was more straightforward. I do think it's unfair to critique Alejandro as not radio-friendly; I mean it more in the sense of her previous singles (Just Dance, Poker Face, etc) but she was so powerful at the time it didn't matter because it was always going to be successful.

I really agree with the paragraph I quoted! I think Cheek to Cheek really cemented her as a versatile icon (I'll dig into more when I do that review). I think since her career has been so expansive, and she was able to successfully cover a variety of lanes, she will be remembered as one of the greats. 

I love Katy, too, but she has never really transcended in the way she needed to. It's unfair how she is treated now. There are SO many male artists that get away with doing the same thing for decades. However, she needed that evolution to be interesting. Prism is largely forgettable (and, as you said, extremely safe) and Witness is her ARTPOP. She's so talented that I really hope in the coming years she can subvert expectations and get people interested again. :firega:

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
Esme Squalor
12 minutes ago, HorusRa2 said:

But also at the same time, fast forward to now and I would argue that Gaga will be more remembered because of the times she pushed the limits even though her commercial profile is at least somewhat damaged from the ARTPOP era. Katy (as an example) on the other hand continued to color inside the lines and she's no longer in the book at least as of today. 

I couldn't agree more. When I was younger (Teenage Dream era) I listened to Katy just as much as I did Lady Gaga, but in subsequent years I totally forgot about Katy. Gaga still managed to captivate me, especially during the ARTPOP era when I was blown away by her music videos and how different the album was compared to everything else in music at the time. I know people hate ARTPOP but to this day it is still my favorite album and had a huge impact on me. 

2 hours ago, ARTGOD said:

Instead she just doubled down, she made her craziest, biggest, most ambitious and most “Gaga” album.

Honestly I think this puts into words why I loved this album so much. Everything about it was so wild and out-there and too much. It definitely wasn't for everyone and wasn't sustainable. 

  • Like 2

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites
PerfectGUY
Posted (edited)

You read my thoughts!!!

People keep saying that ARTPOP was the reason of the downfall when in truth it was a dead on arrival project. ARTPOP was the top of the iceberg while everything since the Alejandro video had led up to it!

ARTPOP is my fave album! When listened from start to finish with speakers it's plainly PERFECT
I actually think musically speaking it could've done wonders for Gaga's career. 

Do What U Want could've smashed so hard! Same for GUY! Same for Donatella (very I love it! by Icona Pop / Charli XCX) and same for Fashion! demo version (very Get Lucky Daft Punk) 

Edited by PerfectGUY
  • Like 1
  • Love 1

Share


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...