I would like to open by stating that failure is a relative term. Lady Gaga's third studio album Artpop
debuted at no.1 on the Billboard
200, and sold 258,000 copies in it's first week. It has since sold has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide. But, the record received mixed reviews from critics, and didn't perform particularly competitively on the charts. In fairness, it was released a month before Beyoncé infamously broke the internet. Lady Gaga's biggest failure was having the ninth best selling album of 2013.
Gaga has spoken openly about the crushing pressure of Artpop
's underperformance. Accusations that Artpop
had cost her label $25 million dollars, and was causing layoffs, began flying around. In interviews since, she describes a dark depression, complacency, and the desire to give up... and then she describes her savior, Mr. Tony Bennett.
Gaga credited Tony Bennett with saving her life, but he's also saved her career. Cheek to Cheek
, introduced us to a new, older, and glaringly genuine Gaga. Before tirades of Little Monsters plummet down my throat for accusing Mother Monster of being fake, let's be clear: Tony Bennett didn't pull some mask off Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett made Lady Gaga accessible. Take their performance at the Grammys.
That's Lady Gaga up there, with Tony Bennett, and Stefani Germanotta, the classically trained NYU graduate. Stefani Germanotta and Lady Gaga now publicly coexist, in a way that no other pop star (besides maybe
Miley Cyrus, Wayne Coyne
confirms that kid couldn't give less of a f@$&!) really does. Beyoncé can't be herself. We don't care, we care about the image she has worked so hard to cultivate. But, we're kind of tired of the image Gaga has worked tirelessly to cultivate... What we never tire of is pretty dresses and matching pipes.
Tony Bennett is one of the god's of regular super stars. He's a gorgeous voice in a classy tux. He's pure and simple, with nothing to prove, and nothing to hide, and he can be that because, frankly, no one's looking. Well, not no one, millions of people are fans of Tony Bennett, but he doesn't have the sexy celebrity that tabloids love to build and demolish. Bennett's fans are listening to music differently than Gaga's fans, because for the most part they're just listening to it. Gaga is now accessible to a much larger audience. She's now the kind of icon whose perfection is just within the range of reliability: Hollywood glamour versus Holly-weird glamour.
Her eccentricity is still there. That's really essential. Lady Gaga hasn't fundamentally changed. Her eccentricity is still ever present. Anyone who thinks there will never be another Artpop
is sorely mistaken. The Little Monsters will see their queen in costume once again. This is a temporary hibernation that turned into a widely received reinvention.