Music

Lady Gaga’s Divisive ‘ARTPOP’ Is Back In The Charts – But Why?

Fans have decided that now is finally the time 'ARTPOP' gets the respect it deserves.

lady gaga artpop photo

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More than seven years after its ill-fated release, Lady Gaga’s third album ARTPOP is having its time on top. The album has scaled the heights of the global iTunes charts once again following a campaign run by her fans to give the album the justice they feel it deserves.

ARTPOP has long been labelled a flop. It’s an experimental, challenging pop record that changed the course of Gaga’s career, failing to achieve the mammoth success that her previous albums did. While it may have resonated with her core fanbase, it failed to connect with the mainstream.

As her place on the pop throne began to slide, Gaga’s inner circle also began to unravel, with Gaga later revealing she felt “betrayed” by a number of people close to her during ARTPOP’s rollout. It had been pitched to fans as an album of grand plans with apps, extravagant music videos and more music on the cards but the era came to a close unceremoniously — Gaga felt “depressed” and “exhausted”.

Despite this, fans kept with them a glimmer of hope that ARTPOP wasn’t completely over. Throughout the promotional campaign, Gaga had mentioned the possibility of a second act for the album full of material that was more experimental than the first, although it never eventuated.

Pop music moves by in a flash, from one era to the next. It’s rare that a dismissed record gets a second chance but ARTPOP may be actually having a revival. A petition for her and her label Interscope to release Act II has gone viral reaching close to 50,000 signatures, including one by Gaga herself. Meanwhile, the original album is being launched back into charts worldwide.

ARTPOP is rising from the ashes and her fans could be close to rewriting pop history.

So, Why Now?

This whole movement stemmed from an April Fools joke made by ARTPOP producer DJ White Shadow. He took to social media to say that he would be dropping unreleased song ‘Tea’ as an NFT, predictably sending fans into a frenzy. Fans have speculated in the past that ‘Tea’ would have been included in Act II and so they relentlessly asked the producer to release it. Instead of the usual silence, he encouraged them to “petition Gaga”.

Almost immediately, self-proclaimed “ARTPOP ambassador” and Twitter user GAMBIT (alongside a slew of other Little Monsters) launched a petition on Change.org. “In remembrance of album’s [sic] 10 year anniversary, let’s band together to show our support for ARTPOP and the unreleased volume,” read the petition.

GAMBIT told Music Junkee that the petition had been on their mind “for years” but DJ White Shadow’s comments spurred them on. While the petition centres around the release of Act II, it’s about more than that. It’s about giving glory to an album that was stripped of it at the time.

“Never could I have imagined it would be this big and we would make ARTPOP chart in almost 40 countries.”

“It’s…to show Gaga our support for an album which was called a flop, which gave her a hard time. We wanted to let her know how much we love and appreciate her,” they said.

DJ White Shadow immediately showed his appreciation for the petition and told fans that he had “sent LG a text” further writing, “I will continue to push for those songs you want so badly.” As ARTPOP topped the iTunes charts in 18 countries, Gaga signed the petition herself and responded. In a lengthy post to Twitter she wrote that it had, “inspired such a tremendous warmth in my heart.”

She all but completely bypassed the subject of actually releasing Act II but DJ White Shadow later shared on Instagram that he had finally called Gaga and they had made a plan to get together once she returns from Italy where she is filming House Of Gucci.

“Never could I have imagined it would be this big and we would make ARTPOP chart in almost 40 countries,” says GAMBIT.

The Second Act

In the early days, Gaga loved to tease a project long before it eventuated. She tattooed ‘Artpop’ on her arm more than a year before the album was actually released and continued to tease snippets of songs.

Upon the album’s release, she told The Howard Stern Show she had written over 90 songs for the album. Cuts like ‘Temple’, ‘Brooklyn Nights’, and ‘Nothing But (The Radio)’ were committed to fans’ memories’ as she mentioned them on social media and in interviews. During the artRAVE tour, she aired portions of ‘Cake Like Lady Gaga’, ‘PARTYNAUSEAUS’ and ‘Ratchet’, hoping one day to release them in full.

#JusticeForGlitter was a gateway for plenty of other redemption campaigns too. Britney Spears’ fandom sent her album Glory to number one on iTunes four years after its release, spurring her on to drop Japanese bonus track ‘Mood Ring’ on streaming services.

Last year, Madonna’s Bedtime Stories returned to the top of the iTunes charts after a fan-led campaign went viral. Madonna thanked fans on Twitter and it eventually slipped back down the charts without causing much of a mainstream fuss.

Fan movements can often exist within an echo chamber but Gaga’s willingness to engage with this campaign suggests it could have a different effect. If she does follow through with releasing Act II, it will provide a rare example of a major popstar daring to go back to the past. ARTPOP, an album that many were quick to declare dead in the water, could have an unlikely second wind and a chance at changing public perception.

We know now that ARTPOP didn’t destroy Gaga. She’s gone on to have two more number one singles in the US in ‘Shallow’ and ‘Rain On Me’ while collecting Oscars and Grammys. Fans begged for Gaga to return to dance-pop and she obliged with Chromatica. Alongside a host of new popstars from Dua Lipa to Doja Cat, the dance-pop genre is back with a vengence.

If ARTPOP was ahead of its time, we may be ready for it in 2021 in a way we were not prepared for in 2013.


Sam Murphy is a music writer and Co-Editor of The Interns. He also co-hosts the popular podcast Flopstars. Follow him on Twitter.