This morning a music video for ‘Applause,’ the latest single from Lady Gaga, was released to YouTube (and premiered on every billboard in Times Square simultaneously). The video is quite a spectacle to be sure-it features Gaga in several fantastic outfits, performing well choreographed dance numbers, and singing inside an enormous top hat-however the more interesting news is that no one is talking about it. Well, maybe not no one, but definitely not the numbers you’d expect should be talking about it. In fact, I believe more people are still re-hashing the weekend drama between her and Perez Hilton, who may or may not have been stalking the pop artist in her Manhattan apartment building. As it stands, there have only been 18,000+ views of the video since it was released this morning. Unimpressive, to say the least.
Has something happened to the star power of ‘Mother Monster?’
First, this single is very very ‘safe’ by Gaga’s standards. Think back to how fresh ‘Bad Romance’ was when we first heard it, then listen to “Applause.” Sonically, the new work is on par with “The Fame;” it showcases nothing that we haven’t heard before and is built upon that ‘fame seeker’ conceit once again. For an album that is supposed to be pushing ‘art & pop’ boundaries through fashion, social networking, and musical experimentation, “Applause” is an odd choice to launch with. It is simply not ground breaking or artsy enough by itself to warrant any hype. It’s not bad, it’s just not great.
Second, before “Born This Way,” was released, Gaga’s critics warned that if Gaga didn’t rein her quirkiness into more focused expression, she would risk burning people out. In other words, too much weird can be a bad thing. It’s exhausting. Well, It appears as if they were right. ”Born This Way,” was a departure from the aesthetic of “The Fame,” but the direction alienated fans and didn’t bring in any new audience members. Now, she’s returned to a more focused touch, but it might be too late.
Third, as I mentioned above, the message of “Applause,” is perhaps too conceited to appeal to a wide audience. If she was singing, “I want you to feel the applause, the fame, the glory with me…” then maybe more people would be on board. Isn’t “ArtPop” supposed to be a socially-immersive experience? From what I’ve seen so far, it’s more of the same self-indulgent work that we’ve gotten from Gaga many times.
I believe those are the 3 main factors behind the disappointing sales and views of her latest single. That being said, I still admire her ferocious dedication to crafting something visually unique. “Applause,” is a masterwork in the music video medium, utilizing all of Gaga’s strengths. I’ve already watched it a few times and see something visually striking each time that I missed before. It’s layered with symbolism and new costumes, and enhances the quality of the single tenfold.
I think that “Applause” is quite possibly a genius move. I think that Gaga has created a meta-commentary on her fame, knowing full well how her numbers are going to turn out. I think her latest video is a subtly brilliant way of holding the mirror up to the music industry, and our expectations. I also believe that she’s doing whatever she wants because she can, and what says more about her artistry then that?
She released this video before “Applause” leaked last week:
I think Gaga is getting exactly what she wants. More to come, I’m sure.