* out of 4
Lady Gaga has never been very subtle about all of her repackaging popular music of the past, from her Queen-inspired name to "Born this Way," her most recent album, half of which sounded cut straight from Madonna's vault of b-sides.
She hasn't always copped to doing it though, and artists like Madonna have chided her for it. Now, she coos on her new single "Applause," from the upcoming album "ARTPOP": "Pop culture was an art/ now art and pop culture in me," ideas that are so novelly important they don't mean anything.
"Applause" opens with a punky Devo-esque synth bassline--it's vintage Gaga: stilted dance rhythm with space for her vocals, which sound more Bowie than ever. While the concepts behind "Born this Way" were rooted in acceptance among people and her fans, particularly in the LGBT community, "Applause" and its mother album seem focused solely on the artist herself, now a fully blown "artiste," who "lives for the applause." Her concerns are no longer with the fans themselves but the affirmation they bring her.
This might be a harsh assessment, but it'd be easier to grapple with if "Applause" were any good. It's like a 3 p.m.-used-coffee-filter retread of the same material she has spun through before, and while the chorus sounds more anthemic and melodic than the verses, it's nothing compared to "Telephone" or "Bad Romance."
"Roar," the new Katy Perry song, has been accused of being a retread of Sara Bareilles' "Brave," and while they do sound super-similar, at least Perry's imitation sounds good. If anyone other than Gaga made "Applause," we'd be trashing it.
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