By Josh Schonfeld
Everyone remembers the moment they were introduced to Lady GaGa. For me, it was a warm summer night in 2008. It was my last summer before shipping off to college, so I was clinging to home life by watching So You Think You Can Dance with the family. Before the results were read, Cat Deeley announced a new up and coming singer was about to perform named Lady GaGa. A petite woman dressed in a black leotard and blonde wig and caked in makeup appeared on screen and sang, “Just dance. It’s gonna be ok.” Before I could form an opinion, my brother declared, “Oh great, Josh has a new favorite singer.” While I protested at the time, I don’t think he even knew how right he would become.
It’s now been three years since GaGa released the commercial disappointment, ARTPOP. That’s the longest stretch between pop albums for her ever and the time has come for pop to be redefined by Mother Monster. What made ARTPOP a disappointment, you may ask? No, it wasn’t the sales or the chart peaks (although they weren’t that great). It was the fact that it was unfiltered, unpolished inner thoughts of GaGa. The GaGa that America knows and loves is one that is finely tuned, one that has already calculated her steps three moves in advance. The best thing about her first album, The Fame, and her subsequent EP, The Fame Monster, was that it was a marriage between her innermost manic ideas with intelligent craftsmanship and sharp knowledge about the history of pop music.
Looking at the current pop landscape, it’s clear that innovation is at a standstill. Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor are struggling to find a signature sound, Katy Perry is recycling her own tired clichés, and Britney Spears is just throwing songs out for the hell of it at this point. Beyoncé and Rihanna seem to be the only ones finding new creative highs in their career, but it is in the realm of R&B and hip-hop, not pop. The last piece of pop perfection to be released was Taylor Swift’s 1989, and that was back in 2014. If ever there were a time to shake things up, it’s now, since pop seems to have stalled with every song having an EDM beat with chill vocals.
What sets GaGa apart from other artists is that she is the total package. A vocal powerhouse, a seasoned songwriter, and a creative mastermind, she understands every aspect of pop music. After performing at the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and the Grammys in consecutive appearances, GaGa has shown each of those skills to America again. All that’s left is her eagerly awaited pop album to redefine what pop music is and can be.