Reporting Courtney E. Smith
After much teasing on social media in 2012, Lady Gaga’s next album ARTPOP and her Born This Way Ball Tour were delayed and canceled, respectively, after the singer underwent hip surgery. She did it all in true Gaga style, purchasing herself a 24-karat gold wheelchair that she christened Emma to get through (and around during) her convalescence.
After Gaga posted a photo of herself back in the studio on June 1, all the Little Monsters are hoping ARTPOP could still see the light of day in 2013. We know Gaga has worked with labelmate Zedd to produce a few tracks from the album, but what else might Mother Monster have up her sleeve?
One thing’s for certain: Gaga specializes in mashing up her influences, so whatever she does will have a little of this and a little of that, weaved together under the banner of some greater theme.
The Full EDM Phase
Working with Zedd puts Gaga at the core of mainstream EDM. He is known for his anthemic, fist-pumping and straight-ahead EDM tracks featuring catchy vocals. For some, he’s the antithesis of what dance music should be and to others he’s a hitmaker. If we get Gaga writing and Zedd producing, it’s pretty clear we’ll get club bangers. The two do have a common instrument in the piano, which they are both able to play proficiently and use for composing. Perhaps they’ll use this common ground to eek out a slow piano ballad or two.
The Ray Of Light Phase
It’s been said near and far, low and high that Gaga owes a debt to Madonna. It’s also been said that she completely rips her off, wholesale. So if Born This Way used elements of Like A Prayer (so much so that Madonna mashed up “Express Yourself” and “Born This Way” for a tour performance), then the natural progression for Gaga would be to hit the Ray Of Light phase (skipping Erotica and Bedtime Stories). The 1998 album, produced by William Orbit and roundly regarded as one of Madonna’s best, both incorporated and appropriated elements of the sort of late ’90s dance music that’s right up Gaga’s evolutionary alley. It was also Madonna’s growing-up album, where she addressed having her first child and evolving spiritually after finding Kabbalah. So Gaga would have to get much more confessional and seriously personal in her lyrics if she goes this way.
The Marie Antoinette Phase
How great would it be to see Gaga in a modern, Gaga-esque version of those gowns and wigs, perhaps with a little fake mole? (She could rock a fake mole like no other.) If she dove into Antoinette’s whole history, Gaga could explore both the young, carefree years at court and still play into the discoveries of the Age of Enlightenment. Gaga loves to challenge the status quo, and to see her do it with lyrics built on the scientific method and promoting an intellectual exchange of ideas (instead of the path her Romantic era album, Born This Way, took) would be a treat. Plus, if she added in a dash of Sophia Coppola’s model and paid homage to some post-punk music while she did it (a la the Marie Antoinette film) — well, that would be even better.
The Robert Mapplethorpe Phase
With an album called ARTPOP, go big or go home. The title implies some intersection of the two, which implies some sort of performance art from Gaga. We’ve seen that before. We’ve seen Gaga play with sexuality before. We’ve heard her exalt the LGBT community. But she’s never really pushed a boundary past what the public could take. Robert Mapplethorpe, on the other hand, took his photography so far past the boundaries of what America was ready for that his art, which featured homoerotic and sadomasochistic themes, caused a massive debate about public funding for the arts and what defines obscenity in 1989 that has literally never died down. Mapplethorpe’s art challenged the standard idea of what constituted art by injecting sexuality that people found uncomfortable. Gaga doesn’t cross those lines. So far she has preferred to water down her message into nuggets that are easily digestible by the public at large and that’s fine — she’s making small steps towards a larger acceptance with a larger audience. But perhaps with ARTPOP she could take a bigger advantage of the popularity she’s earned and really shock us.
The David Bowie Phase
Gaga has long been known to be a Bowie fan and seems to enjoy inventing characters, like the gender-bending Jo Calderone, whom she appeared as for the duration of the 2011 MTV VMAs. Hell, like Gaga herself, who is the 24-7 character Stefani Germanotta puts on for the world. Ostensibly, Gaga has been in her Ziggy Stardust period since her career took off. So how about pulling a David Bowie and putting on her Stefani Germanotta costume for the next album? She could make an entirely piano record, laying bare her Elton John sensibilities, and just…be herself.