The single is from a forthcoming album, ARTPOP, which she has hyped as being an attempt to recreate the marriage of pop and art that Andy Warhol and his associates, including the Velvet Underground, once made famous. Warhol approached that space from the standpoint of an established, serious artist. Gaga is approaching it from the other side, the position of an established pop star.
The point of that column was to say, if you have the ambition, you better have the goods to back it up. Applause and the "leak" that accompanied its release hint at a marketing imbalance of hype over substance. If that's the way it's going to go, we can expect ARTPOP to be a waste of time. Sadly, the new video only reinforces that expectation.
Here is the video. You'll notice it's a hodgepodge of ideas. The bit with her spastically writhing on the floor actually works with the song, which compares the need to please her fans with an addiction. Other shots parody the star-at-center-stage experience. But the fast edits are knee-jerk and the overall look is scattershot, adding up to a big "so what?" You could take virtually any popular female singer and put her in the same series of shots and the effect would have been exactly the same, maybe even better.I get that the makeup represents her as a canvas and her as a jester, a sad clown playing to the applause. But that's such a minor part of this mess that it hardly even registers as relevant. Compare it with the supremely beautiful weirdness of Bjork's Mutual Core video, released in November of last year, or the simple, uncomfortable sadness of David Bowie's Where Are We Now? from earlier this year, or the demonic stylish anger of Kanye West's Black Skinhead. Each of those breaks new ground, forces us to reassess our notions of pop song vs. art, pop star vs. artist. The theme of Applause appears to be a teenage girl's fantasy music video, but it winds up looking like a knockoff of the hundreds of run-of-the-mill MTV-style videos we've seen for the last 20 years. Lady Gaga is a smart woman. She showed that during her GMA interview. But her grandiose entrance and larger-than-life presentation of the video on the screens of Times Square only seem to back up the point that she's in over her head, unprepared for the challenge she's set for herself: to overcome pop-music industry inertia and create something of real originality and beauty. The ambitious goals of ARTPOP are going to require more maturity, more dedication to solely artistic ideals and a lot less kowtowing to prescribed marketing formulae. Follow @CarltonTSC -- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park