ARTPOP: Why Fans Still Won't Give Up on the 2013 Album
Music & Arts
While her breakthrough single ‘Just Dance’ just turning 13 years old, Lady Gaga is trending once again, this time because of what was at first an April fool. Embracing the diversity of identities, the pop icon has brought a lot to the LGBTQ+ community. She has always supported and encouraged everyone to be who they are and want to be, not only expressing it in her music but in interviews and as a person. Queer herself, she gathered the community and helped the queer youth flourishing alongside their identities.
Her fans recently made her fourth LP ‘ARTPOP’ reach first place in iTunes charts again, exactly 8 years after its release. Let’s have a detailed look at what seems to be the messiest era of Lady Gaga, and what provoked it to resurface.
2011 – 2012 – Born This Way Tour
It’s 2011 and Lady Gaga is still promoting her third album ‘Born This Way’ but she starts teasing the fact that she is working on her next release. The popstar even introduces fans to ‘Princess Die’, a song she affirms will be on her next record. At the time, she was extremely present for her fans and was regularly active on her own forum littlemonsters.com. Gaga exposes a new tattoo “ARTPOP”. The album, planned for early 2013, is announced to be produced by big names in the electronic world. Her record label then seems to be giving her a lot of freedom to build a new path following her three big albums.
Early 2013 – The beginning of the end
2013 is the year everything started to crumble for Lady Gaga. The Born This Way tour has been going on for a very long time, her shows are intense and frequent and her performances show a lot of exhaustion, giving the media what they needed to bring her down. All that is talked about is her weight gain, facing comments affirming she is already washed out. In February Gaga breaks her hip on stage – she goes through with the performance, but it puts an end to her tour and the Born This Way era.
After Gaga went through a period when she had no idea if she’ll ever be able to perform at all again, the pressure she put on herself for her comeback was immense. The media had already started taking down ARTPOP and she wanted to prove everyone wrong. She’s later talked about this period as the time she had to face her addictions again, especially cannabis which she’d already had problems with in the past.
Mid 2013 – Announcement & the first singles
The record is finally announced in July and is supposed to be out in the world on November 11th, accompanied by an app. The concept of the album and app were teased as bringing “ARTculture into Pop in a reverse Warholian expedition”. She doesn’t add more details on the sound itself but says that 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.”
Early August a song called ‘Aura’ is leaked on the famous forum GagaDaily by an unknown user. And it turns out Gaga was actually at the origin of this leak. Her label Interscope didn’t want to release it as a single, and she, therefore, decided to do it on her own to show them how it would be welcomed by the public. The song still didn’t make it as a single.
Instead, it is ‘Applause’ that is chosen to be the first single. However, 9 days before the original release, parts of the song leak again. It is this time not her initiative and Gaga decides to release it a week earlier through a “pop music emergency” tweet, which became an iconic reference in pop culture. The music video comes out and as well-received as it is, her release is now on the same day as Katy Perry’s comeback with ‘Roar’. The music industry has a habit of comparing and putting women in competition, making it impossible for two female songs to excel at the same time. Lady Gaga gets bad press for being second in the charts and the album is already being called ‘ARTFLOP’.
She makes her first live appearance at the end of August at the VMA’s. The performance starts with booing to symbolize the criticism she’s been facing, and she changes outfits multiple times to represent the different stages of her career.
September marks her Roundhouse performance for the iTunes Festival in London. She premieres a lot of songs. She sees her fans’ enthusiasm and asks them what the next single should be. ‘Sexxx Dreams’ is chosen but once again Interscope doesn’t want to follow her decisions and ‘Venus’ is announced as the next single.
October 2013 – A catastrophic approach to the release.
The artwork is revealed about a month before the album is set to be released. It is the work of Jeff Koons, an artist Gaga praises. It pictures Lady Gaga giving birth to what she defines as art, with pieces from Bernini and Botticelli in the background. She once again partially explains the meaning and leaves the public to figure out what message they want behind it.
She releases a fair number of singles prior to the album: ‘Dope’, which she had premiered at the iTunes festival, ‘Venus’ and ‘Do What You Want’, with the best reception from the fans. However, ‘Do What You Want’ featured R Kelly who’s just been accused of multiple sexual assaults. She has to cancel the release of the promo and music video. Added to the allegations of sexual misconduct from her long-time photographer Terry Richardson, Gaga faces the questioning of her credibility.
A day before ARTPOP is out to the world, Lady Gaga and her manager Troy Carter – who was the one to sign her in 2007, unknown at the time – split for “creative differences”. The project is, for her team, failed in advance and she is left on her own, but she still proceeds to release her beloved record.
Nothing Gaga had intended goes the way it was planned. She had teased a lot of different things that ended up being a disappointment for the fans, starting with the app. What she had promised to be revolutionary, rule-breaking in an artistic sense and a platform for her to communicate with her little monsters ended up being exclusively a tool to create GIFs somewhat related to the universe of ARTPOP.
The record is still well-received to some extent, it tops some charts but the electronic path she’s taken is not everyone’s cup of tea. The promotion campaign, although dense and all around the world, is not enough to balance with the lack of understanding from the public. ARTPOP is aesthetically creative but no one seems to understand what Lady Gaga means behind it. She is out of budget and the era is fading before the tour has even started.
The ARTRAVE tour starts after a couple of months of disappearance with big promotion shows, where she is, again, accused of being too provocative. She finances the short film for G-A-Y to picture the way she was mistreated by her management and how she’d come out of it stronger. The video is well received but her tour is shorter than she used to do, putting an end to the torment that ARTPOP has been in November 2014.
ARTPOP: Act II
While promoting ARTPOP in 2013, Lady Gaga has always mentioned this record to be in two parts. A few big names such as Kendrick Lamar and Azealia Banks were mentioned in the making; Azealia Banks being now in conflict with Gaga because of comments she’s made against the LGBTQ+ community. The second act never happened because of the catastrophic impact ARTPOP had on Gaga’s career and personal life. She’s barely opens up about that era again.
However, on April 1st of this year, DJ White Shadow - the executive producer of ARTPOP – posted on Instagram, announcing the release of a song originally planned for the second Act: ‘Tea’. Although the announcement was very clearly an April’s fools, fans took this very seriously due to the attachment they had to the idea of ARTPOP: Act II. A big petition asking for the promised record started spreading and has now gotten over 52,000 signatures. The little monsters, desperately trying to get Gaga’s attention on the matter, made the album trend on social media and got it to top the iTunes charts in almost every country.
The singer is currently filming the movie ‘House of Gucci’ but still took the time to answer her fanbase. She thanks them with a touching message in which she affirms that this album was a devastating period for her and is thankful for those who’ve trusted her.
DJ White Shadow announced a few days later in a post that he had been in touch with Lady Gaga following the petition and that they would, without promises, meet up after the filming of her movie to discuss the fans’ wishes.
Gaga’s fourth album had a very blurry concept, which made the audience confused. The number of creative influences she brought together for this project also perturbated the public a lot. But the reason it didn’t reach the success it was supposed to reach, was because of the conflict between her creative freedom and the record label’s wish to release what would work the most for fans and therefore make the most money. Interscope, despite giving her a big budget, never showed trust in her regarding the choice of singles and the creative aspect and Gaga was never able to go to the end of her ideas and projects for what she had teased to be the “album of a millennium”.
Now that fans might have gotten her to rethink the recording of ARTPOP: Act II, should we question the motives for it? While she, like many artists, affirms that fans are the reason she’s still doing music, is it against her vision of creative freedom to let them decide what she produces? Or is it the opposite, fans telling her to release what once felt like the most precious creation for her?
Regardless of what will drive Lady Gaga to rethink the release of the second act of ARTPOP, this petition is proof that fans have a massive influence on an artists’ path.