"APPLAUSE" -- Tynan Overthinks Lady Gaga's New Single

“Applause” is a perfect example of all of the things I love about Lady Gaga.
Publish date:
August 13, 2013
pop music, lady gaga


Lady Gaga’s first single “Applause” from her new album ARTPOP wasn’t due out until next Monday, August 19th. In a surprising turn of events, due to a couple leaked snippets of the song over the weekend, she debuted the song yesterday (which was also the day that Katy Perry debuted HER new single #ROAR, making it either a happy coincidence or the most calculated, epic shade of the century. Either way, I’m living for it).

“Applause” is a perfect example of all of the things I love about Lady Gaga, as well as all of the reasons that I find her exhausting. More importantly, it also shows why she is the most intelligent and talented pop star on the planet.

Yes I did.

“Applause” begins with a glitchy, vamping intro and leads into the verse where she is serving a very “mad scientist meets Count Chocula” sound with her vocals. This is a very obvious reference to Bowie, just like the cover art for "Applause" is a reference to Bowie's "Scary Monsters."

Gagz loves her Bowie references, always has. Remember this?

It’s OK though! Let’s not start with the Born This Way/Express yourself comparisons. Sometimes a reference is just a reference.

And then, there are the lyrics. The whole song is basically dedicated to her fan’s…dedication to her. “I live for the applause. Put your hands up, make ‘em touch” It’s all well and good. It’s the verses that get me.

“Pop culture was in art, now art’s in pop culture, in me” is the lyric that sums the song up as a whole. She wants to really make sure we know that she is an ARTIST, a POP ARTIST, damn it. That’s what the ARTPOP era is all about (no shade, but I actually refused to believe that “ARTPOP” was actually the name of the album. “That is the WORST title ever, there’s no way. She’s better than that,” I insisted. Turns out…)

The verses are wordy, heavy-handed, and literal. There’s even a clunky reference to American artists Jeff Koons in the second verse that was the biggest eye-roller for me. Like, Gaga, can you not? If the sledgehammering beat and rager of a melody weren’t so instantly infectious, then the song would be dead on arrival. But that’s what makes her Lady Gaga, she has a lot to say, and she serves it up so sweetly that you can barely question it.

Just when you’re really starting to ask yourself “OK, but really what is going on with this song?” the chorus careens into you.

It’s incredible. It’s transcendent. It’s pure, unbridled euphoria. The chorus grabs onto the song, and hurls it into high gear. The momentum that has been building throughout the song explodes in the chorus which sounds like the perfect christ child of pop and EDM. It’s clubby, unstoppable stadium pop.

The joyful chorus reminiscent of her first album “The Fame,” which is another reason why it works so well. She has no political statements this time around, nothing to prove, she wants us to *just dance* (hehe) and has given us a phenomenal song to dance to.

Any and all of my halfhearted criticism aside, Applause is the best pop song of 2013. I do still have issues with her being so painstakingly literal in her music. She’s definitely not from the “show, not tell” school of thought. I was stomping down the street with my friends yesterday night actually, and we were talking about the single, after about 12 seconds of it had leaked.

“She’s spoon feeding these ideas to her fans!” I ranted. “For someone who is constantly pulling symbols and references into her work, you can’t put any thought into it because she spells it all out for you. There’s no deconstructing it. It’s almost like she’s talking down to her audience.”

At the same time, there is no other artist whose work I would go over with a fine toothed comb like Gaga’s. Every measure of every song and every frame of every video has been painstakingly constructed to be the absolute best it can be in every way; sonically and visually. She is a true artist and a true pop star in every sense of the word. There’s a reason why every time she releases anything, it’s an event.

That’s why she’s the best.

What do you think of the single? Are you excited for ARTPOP? I AM. I think I just accidentally pre-ordered it twice. I don't know, I'm kind of delusional right now because I mightcurrently be having an allergic reaction to this super expensive body lotion I'm wearing because my skin feels like it's falling off and I'm running a fever of 102. WHO KNOWS.

Gaga follows me on Twitter and you should, too: @TynanBuck.