The opinions surrounding the debut single “Applause” from Lady Gaga’s upcoming third LP, the smart phone app ARTPOP are vast. Love it or hate it, it’s a mainstream pop track crafted by the Interscope signed songstress that’s taking the entire music industry by storm, as she normally does, and is buzzing with opinions firing in all directions.
What we think?
Did we rattle you, Little Monsters? Send our apologies to the Mother.
Living in an average dynamic range of 5dB, “Applause” has the standard in your face sonic realm that we’ve come to hear from Lady Gaga as of late. Producer DJ White Shadow plays with minimalistic synthesized lines during the chorus and verse placements that they could be seen almost as mundane as Will.I.Am’s atrociously simple composition for “Scream and Shout (featuring Britney Spears)” if it weren’t for the interesting movements through each segment of the track, such as the filtered synths at the pre-chorus.
Bowie-esque in vocal phrasing (yes, we’re getting this Bowie reference out of the way quick. It’s there, it’s obvious), Lady Gaga charges through her verses in theatrical expression and remains at the top and front of the mix throughout the entirety of the song. She’s so compressed, so in your face, that it’s quite difficult to focus on anything but. In fact, an interesting segment in the chorus in which she melodically spells out the word A-P-P-L-A-U-S-E is buried within the mix a bit.
A nice, free-verse approach to writing in the second verse seems to attack the critics and stay closely to demanding the acceptance of her fan base: “I’ve overheard your theory/nostalgia is for geeks/I guess, sir, if you say so/some of us just like to read”. It’s a weird part of the song upon the first few listens, but is a refreshingly interesting writing technique not heard as directly in the Pop world as it is addressed and poetic here.
The main issue with this song is related to a tirade Lady Gaga went on via her Twitter account where she urged listeners to not listen to the record through laptop speakers. If we may be combative and blunt for a moment, “Applause” is seemingly laptop pop manufactured for laptop speakers. The frequency spectrum is focused highly on the high and low frequency zones inside of this 3:32 spectacular. It doesn’t take a genius to know that laptop speakers are terrible to listen to anything on, but with the speakers being driven mostly by small beaters that are able to only translate the higher frequencies, why has Gaga tarnished the equipment if the warmth of her records have already been hidden beneath the equalization techniques in this lead single?
“Applause” is absolute brilliance at the chorus as it’s as catchy and boisterous as it is intelligent, as well as a recollection to why Germanotta reigns supreme as one of the sharpest songwriters in the genre of present pop music. Where The Fame and Born This Way brought blatant live references to her fans, adoringly called little monsters, specifically asking them to put their paws up, Stefani greatly disguises the request and appreciation for her fans through the subtle line “put your hands up, make ’em touch,” (as opposed to the more blatant reference “Paws up“) then following up with a reprise of the chorus which starts “give me the thing that I love.”
An acknowledgement may slightly occur in the pre-chorus of the song during the chanted lines “give me the applause-plause, give me the applause-plause.” plause :: paws.
This morning, a music video directed by Inez & vinoodh premiered in the United States on Good Morning America and while an almost fully unclothed Gaga prances around, it’s 2013 and not as shocking as most headlines mislead (in fact, the only shocking thing that will come from it is it’s reference to Janet Jackson’s infamous Rolling Stone cover in the 90’s). It is, however, a highly entertaining video recalling the late 20th century’s larger than life adaptation of music creation into the visual world. Simple in manner, complete with a light up tail, the video walks a line between the almost signature black backdrop that’s been featured in the “Alejandro” and “Born This Way” video and a new, slightly bonkers-without-reason mentality the ARTPOP record has been mechanically built to be.
This is by no means Lady Gaga’s finest single to date, but it’s by no means her absolute worst. While it is a bit too self-indulgent, Born This Way remains a political moment early-on in Stefani’s skyrocketed career that she’s earned the right to be a bit silly for a bit. “Applause” is an infectious piece, but hopefully it’s our “Just Dance” of the record, with the “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance” moments coming to fruition in the next coming singles.
Purchase “Applause” on iTunes