A year ago, it seemed unthinkable: The world’s biggest pop star cancelling a bunch of tour dates, going under the knife for major hip surgery, and completely dropping out of the public eye.
Lady Gaga spent most of 2013 far removed from the headlines. But Mother Monster wasn’t exactly twiddling her thumbs—she was hard at work preparing her third full-length album, ARTPOP, for release in November.
In order to prepare ourselves fully for this pop music emergency, here is everything we know (and a few things we think we know) about her Ladyship’s hotly-anticipated forthcoming disc.
1. It’s called ARTPOP
Lady Gaga has promised that her third LP will be packed full of “<a href="http://idolator.com/7440120/lady-gaga-artpop-details" target="_blank">fun, dirty dance music.</a>” Focused around the concept of “the adrenaline of fame,” it’s shaping up to be more of a lighthearted affair than the darker, bombastic Born This Way. The title can be read as both an allegory for her career and a simple fusion of the two most obvious elements of Gaga’s contribution to the zeitgeist: highbrow art and high-energy pop. <a href="http://nypost.com/2013/07/14/lady-gagas-new-album-will-be-a-reverse-warholian-expedition-says-lady-gaga/" target="_blank">The star has claimed the album</a> is a “reverse Warholian expedition,” but whether or not she can completely subvert the concept of the pop star remains to be seen. Most recently, her Ladyship called it “ELECTRONIC CANDY & DELISH ON THE EARS.”
2. It drops November 11
The album’s release date was confirmed via <a href="http://www.nme.com/news/lady-gaga/71392#ELXgvdVvvXryC4W1.99" target="_blank">a statement on her Facebook page that read</a>, in part, "The album 'ARTPOP' musically mirrors Gaga's creative process as she passes through the mediums of each artist she collaborates with, scoring a blueprint of her journey. The result, a "rage" of electronic passion and fury, defining each artistic process from beginning to end, 'ARTPOP' could mean anything. But for her, this is a celebration of obsession." So we’ll have to wait at least two more months to hear the album in full. Perhaps. Gaga moved up the release date of lead single “Applause.” Who says she won’t do the same with the whole record?
3. The first single is “Applause”
In what she called a “pop music emergency,” Gaga unleashed the album’s cacophonously catchy debut track on August 12, <a href="https://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/366960408998842368" target="_blank">via an announcement on her Twitter account</a>. Controversy soon followed when she offered to take the fan who worked the hardest to hype the song and fly him or her to London for her iTunes Festival performance. Hilarity quickly <a href="http://o.canada.com/2013/08/15/lady-gaga-fans-offer-sexual-favours-for-chance-to-meet-the-pop-star-nsfw/" target="_blank">ensued</a>. More recently, she released the accompanying Inez and <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2013/08/lady-gaga-smile-applause-video" target="_blank">Vinoodh-directed video</a>, in which Gaga dons what seems like 100 different looks, one of which involves her head on the body of a swan. Err…okay.
4. It’s produced by Zedd, Madeon, and DJ White Shadow
At the outset of the recording of ARTPOP, Gaga’s team of red-hot dance music producers<a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1675019/lady-gaga-next-album-tour.jhtml" target="_blank"> say they followed her around the world</a>, appearing whenever Gaga had a few spare minutes to work on the album. But a large share of the work came after Gaga’s hip surgery in March 2013, when she buckled down and honed the album’s sonic aesthetic during her recovery.
5. Pigs appear to be a major theme
If the song “Swine,” with its <a href="http://www.nme.com/news/lady-gaga/72330#3Lz8yz4OzqyOtXwf.99" target="_blank">unforgettable lyric</a>, “You're just a pig inside a human body,” wasn’t enough, this photo of Gaga wearing a pig nose as she leaves her London rehearsal studio should be enough to convince us that pigs are suddenly an inspiration for Her Ladyship. She didn’t stop there, <a href="http://www.justjared.com/2013/08/30/lady-gaga-wears-pig-nose-at-london-rehearsal-studio/]" target="_blank">instructing her little monsters</a> to don “bedazzled pig snouts” for her recent iTunes Festival performance, which apparently featured “pig men in boiler suits,” <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23925003" target="_blank">according</a> to the BBC. Whether or not the whole thing is a veiled Seinfeld reference isn’t clear at this time.
6. It’s got a hip-hop song called “Jewels and Drugs.”
Eight songs on the album received their first live airing at Gaga’s iTunes Festival-opening gig at London’s Roundhouse on September 1. The new jam “Jewels and Drugs” features rappers T.I., Too Short, and Twista, and is <a href="http://www.rap-up.com/2013/09/01/lady-gaga-debuts-jewels-and-drugs-with-ti-too-short-twista-at-itunes-festival/" target="_blank">purportedly heavily indebted</a> to Lady Gaga’s love of hip-hop. As Too Short <a href="http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/too-short-to-appear-on-lady-gaga-s-new-album-news.6989.html" target="_blank">told</a> MTV: "I was doing some songs last year with one her producers, DJ White Shadow. He’s been pretty busy, doing his thing around the world and he got back at me a little while ago and said, ‘There’s a song that Lady Gaga’s doing that possibly they would want to get you on’ … so I said, ‘shit I’m down with it!’
7. The song “Sex Dreams” is about…well, you know.
Gaga tweeted a line from this song, which has been described as “throwback ‘80s-R&B ferociousness,” as far back as February 2013. As for the lyrical inspiration? It isn’t much of a challenge to decipher. <a href="http://www.muumuse.com/2013/08/lady-gaga-sex-dreams-artpop-rehearsal-itunes-festival.html/" target="_blank">No mention of disco sticks this time</a>, however.
8. Rock-flavoured song “MANiCURE” could be the next single.
Gaga hand-picked “Applause” as the album’s lead single, but <a href="http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/125489/Sex-Dreams-or-MANiCURE-Lady-Gaga-Asks-Fans-To-Choose-Second-Single-From-ARTPOP-Album" target="_blank">she’s asking her fans to choose the next one</a>. “Sex Dreams” or the rock jam “MANiCURE” are the two songs under consideration.
9. The piano ballad is called “I Wanna Be With You.”
What would a Lady Gaga album be without a good old-fashioned piano ballad? The <a href="http://rock.rapgenius.com/Lady-gaga-i-wanna-be-with-you-lyrics" target="_blank">new one</a> is called “I Wanna Be With You,” and apparently it’s a love song to her fans.
10. There’s also “Aura” and the title track
The iTunes Festival <a href="http://www.4music.com/news/reviews/11442/Review-Lady-Gaga-dazzles-at-iTunes-Festival-2013" target="_blank">show began with</a> “Aura,” which has been called “an eccentric and occasionally cheesy number,” and it also included the album’s title track, a mid-tempo electro-pop jam with <a href="http://rock.rapgenius.com/Lady-gaga-artpop-lyrics" target="_blank">lyrics that explore the cerebral elements of the pop star lifestyle</a>.
11. It might include the controversial leaked track “Burqa.”
This leaked track isn’t yet confirmed for the album, but it instantly <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2013/08/19/dear-lady-gaga-burqa-sends-the-wrong-message" target="_blank">inspired a thousand think pieces</a> when it hit the interwebs. Consequence of Sound <a href="http://consequenceofsound.net/2013/08/listen-to-burqa-a-leaked-controversial-track-off-lady-gagas-artpop/" target="_blank">broke down</a> the lyrics and called the song “slightly disjointed, a tad too ambitious and controversial (yes, really), but mostly unfinished.”
12. It will be released as an app, but seemingly not a very amazing one.
Lady Gaga first claimed ARTPOP would be released as an "a musical and visual engineering system" designed by TechHAUS, a division of the star’s creative team, the Haus of Gaga. This prompting some observers to imagine it as an even cooler version of Bjork’s groundbreaking Biophilia album app. But Gaga soon downplayed the app’s awesomeness, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/aug/01/lady-gaga-artpop-app-multimedia" target="_blank">claiming</a> that it is merely "an interactive jewel case."
13. A new single could feature a sequel to the “Telephone” video
Gaga worked with music video director Jonas Akerlund on the clips for “Paparazzi” and “Telephone,” and recently <a href="http://www.nme.com/news/lady-gaga/72207" target="_blank">assured fans</a> that the third portion of the trilogy is on its way. No word yet on whether Beyoncé could be involved.
14. There will be a massive art party to mark its release
Her Ladyship <a href="http://hypebeast.com/2013/7/lady-gaga-and-jeff-koons-are-planning-an-art-rave" target="_blank">has planned something called an “artRave</a>” for the evening before the album drops, complete with showcase projects that Gaga has prepared with contemporary art masters like Robert Wilson, Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic, and Inez & Vinoodh.
15. The whole process will be made into a movie by Terry Richardson
Whatever we don’t yet know about ARTPOP, we’ll get to know thanks to this behind-the-scenes documentary. Yes, that’s right. The Lady Gaga movie will be coming to a theatre near you, sometime, but we don’t yet know when. Gaga <a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1481250/lady-gaga-announces-terry-richardson-documentary-on-twitter" target="_blank">revealed last Christmas</a> that the infamous celeb photographer is capturing the entire ARTPOP creation process and turning it into a feature film, which means that the world’s biggest pop star will soon conquer yet another medium.