Monday, August 19th, 2013

Lady Gaga – Applause

Something should go here about the Song of the Summer and of Art and Pop but where I’m at right now is this from editor emails: “Is that Eliza Dushku?”


[Video][Website]
[5.38]
Crystal Leww: ATTN: THIS IS A POP EMERGENCY. CALL 911. THIS IS ART. THIS IS POP CULTURE. THIS IS SOCIETY. THIS IS THE AIR THAT WE BREATHE. THIS IS EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING YOU ARE IS INDEBTED TO LADY GAGA. POP EMERGENCY. DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME THE FIRST TIME? POP EMERGENCY. EVERYONE GET OUT THERE AND REQUEST THE SINGLE ON THE RADIO. EVERYONE IS CHEERING AND SCREAMING AND APPLAUDING ME. I AM SO SELF-IMPORTANT THAT THE PICTURE ACCOMPANYING THIS POP EMERGENCY IS ME IN FRONT OF A BUNCH OF WIGS. THE SONG IS KIND OF A MESS AND ALSO RUSHED OUT BECAUSE IT’S TRYING TO COMPETE WITH ANOTHER POP STAR BUT WHO CARES? THIS IS A POP EMERGENCY. CALL 911.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: The Lady Gaga backlash is in full swing, and it’s hard to shake the suspicion that it’d be in full swing no matter what she released. (The latest, for context: Her label is gaming the Hot 100 in the way that everyone does because they have to but that’s only condemned when someone’s backlash is in swing. Meanwhile, there’s some “sex scandal” about a guy putting Gaga references into a m4m ad, which on the conspiracy plausibility scale is about equal to a Tea Partier who thinks Obama ran a prostitution ring because of this Best of Craigslist post.) They’ve got something of a point. Musically “Applause” is an album track, less “Bad Romance” than “Electric Chapel”; and lyrically it’s a mess, The Fame via her V Magazine tracts via a Williamsburg bumper sticker. It’s only better than “Burqa” because “in desperate need of not using Arab women as metaphorical playthings” outranks “in desperate need of learning that some of us just like to read arts criticism” — though I bet she’d dismiss the former as the work of mean ol’ haters, so maybe not. And while Lady Gaga’s best singles have some relatable message, even if it’s just “fuck off and stop calling me,” “Applause” only holds a message for Gaga and her fans — which you’d expect from someone with a financial stake in isolating ever-larger yet ever-more insular fanbases, like VC-backed petri dishes. (And if Amanda Palmer proved anything, it’s that even if she falls off Top 40 somehow this can be sustainable with enough capital from the majors.) Nevertheless: if this were a Fame Monster track, everyone would love it, and rightly: the sawtooth guitars and “Womanizer” chorus with what I swear is a “Push It” nod add up to a potent grower, if it’s allowed to grow.
[7]

Scott Mildenhall: It might have seemed like a good idea at the time to follow the last album’s lead single, about loving yourself for who you are, with one so narcissistic, about loving yourself for who you are to other people. It’s just that you look a bit silly when it transpires that perhaps, by your own very high standards, the applause isn’t quite as loud as it used to be. “Applause” the song doesn’t care though; impervious to negativity, whether from critics, Internet ne’er-do-wells or even “music scholars,” wrapped up in a protective cloak of arrant nonsense. And nonsense is something it has a lot of, from the hit-but-mainly-miss verses to the need to literally spell out the whole ARTPOP thing, but the gloriously hubristic chorus makes up for it. As much as it opens itself to ridicule, it’s a strong concept. And you can’t go wrong with a bit of crowd noise.
[7]

Alfred Soto: The peaks and swells of EDM suit Gags less in 2013 when the charts are full of this stuff, so she tries other tricks: an affect out of a Nina Hagen record, garnishing the ludicrous conceit about nostalgia with the atrocious “some of us just like to read.” The usual mix of “outrageous” and ersatz catchy. ?
[5]

Jonathan Bogart: She sounds good, even great, intoning like Heaven 17 over militant beats for thirty seconds. But then that chorus comes in, and if all that self-consciously hubristic I-wanna-be-adored stuff was maybe fresh in the late ’80s, it’s beyond tired now. A famous pop star speaking metatextually about fame, pop and stardom is entry-level stuff now; and “applause-plause,” repetition without additional meaning, just sounds like she’s still stuck in 2009.
[5]

Ramzi Awn: Applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause applause-plause. I think Lady Gaga did a little too much E, but she still knows how to write a good stutter.
[6]

Iain Mew: Her past single that makes for the best comparison is the underappreciated “Judas” — in particular when the pre-chorus hits, sounding not unique but bigger and catchier than anyone else. “Applause” is worth it for that alone, but the chorus itself goes right off the scale, and its touches of the industrial are much smaller than in “Judas,” mostly just in occasional rattles of beats. The verses are fine by her standards, it’s just that the dinky robot synth line is too weak to support them, though it almost saves itself at the end by turning A-R-T-P-O-P into the sweetest album jingle ever.
[6]

Brad Shoup: Not a single so much as introductory remarks from an ingratiating professor, “Applause” makes for poor pop and poor theory. But isn’t that how it goes when you confuse your gameplan with your lyric sheet? Lungs of leather and dark-red popscapes can be manifesto enough. Instead, Gaga lets us imagine a state-of-the-chart address as delivered by David Bowie. The most interesting parts are purely sonic: all the spellings woven around her higher-register backing vocals. (Right before she pipes in crowd noise, there’s this beautiful coo straight out of a bedroom-DJ’s R&B rinse.) Still, you gotta stub your toes on some ill-placed phrases, including “make ’em touch” as a viable synonym for clapping.
[4]

Will Adams: Look, Lady Gaga has always been stuffy. Before the grand-scale efforts of Born This Way, there were the “fear of” concepts behind The Fame Monster, and before that were still grandiose videos and obscure (by pop’s standards, at least) lyrics. It doesn’t excuse how ridiculous a line like “art’s in pop culture, in me” is, especially when it’s made near-unintelligible by her vibrato. But “Applause” is all about that massive chorus. It’s all about DJ White Shadow’s explosive beats and the accelerated tempo. The self-possessed conceit is de rigueur, but so is the pop sensibility.
[7]

Patrick St. Michel: That chorus does in fact deserve some handclaps, even if it relies on a cheap keyboard sound that The Mae Shi used better in 2008. Still, the early dismissal of critics seems like a total cop-out, especially when the verses sound so stupid.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: Sounds like a weak version of “Paparazzi” with some uncomfortable vocal posturing and some honest but inept lyrics. I mean, pitch shift Gaga up a bit and I could believe she’s channeling Madonna circa Like a Virgin on the verses. People on the Internet are saying Gaga doesn’t care for the song that much and her label is behind it being a single, but I don’t believe it — and if it sells a bundle she’ll still take the money. She should have the courage of conviction to retitle her album Commerce.
[3]

Anthony Easton: All that waiting would be a profound disappointment if anyone expected this to be good. Eventually Lady Gaga will be remembered as a case study at the Harvard Business School, and the little monsters can do something genuinely monstrous.
[5]

Madeleine Lee: Maybe in the world where Gaga is first responder to #POPEMERGENCIES, this song is revolutionary. Outside of that world, it does nothing. People who don’t like her will continue not to like her, only for new reasons. Aspiring Tumblr comedians will Photoshop her head onto a metal balloon dog and receive a modest number of notes. Little Monsters will give her the applause she demands, but it will never get any louder.
[5]

Reader average: [5.7] (30 votes)

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11 Responses to “Lady Gaga – Applause”

  1. omg crystal hahahahaha

  2. If this song had been on anything else, I probably could find something more redeemable about it. But “applause”. :?

  3. Until the lyric video appeared, I liked to tell myself the lyric was “the way you children scream for me”

  4. Yo Stef – stop telling me how brilliant you are and instead be brilliant. Nobody likes a self-important braggart.

  5. Crystal wins.

  6. So does Maddie for ‘first responder’ and balloon dogs and Brad for the professor image! And there’s lots of good stuff all round. The flimsiness of the prostitution thing that Katherine links to is further emphasised by the way they didn’t even have the confidence to make it the headline.

  7. (uh, to be clear, that one’s not on SPIN, they’re just aggregating. It’s on Perez Hilton.)

  8. also appreciate the DOUBLE WORD SCORE for “hubristic”

  9. Madeleine clocked this.

  10. surprise, surprise: katherine made the right call on this one

  11. I have been hearing this with Ed’s alternate lyric ever since reading it, and it has made me like it more.