Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Explore BLACKPINK's Rapid Rise To Global K-Pop Superstardom | For The Record
Ahead of the highly anticipated release of their debut LP, 'BLACKPINK: The Album,' in October, revisit their swift ascension to the global superstars they are today
Just two years before they'd have their big international breakout with 2018's "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du," BLACKPINK formed in Seoul, South Korea. The fiercely talented quartet has been serving up pop star realness with their infectious genre-meshing music, stellar choreography, arena-filling live shows and eye-catching music videos.
For the latest episode of GRAMMY.com's For The Record video series, we revisit the swift ascension of Lisa, Jennie, Rosé and Jisoo.
"Ddu-Du Ddu-Du," their first song to hit the Billboard Hot 100, became the highest-charting song by a female K-pop group, a record they beat again later. It also earned them the first-ever gold record in the U.S. by a female K-pop act. Two of their also-massive subsequent singles, "Kill This Love" (2019) and "How You Like That" (2020), also charted on the Hot 100.
Their collaboration with Lady Gaga, "Sour Candy," featured on her 2020 album Chromatica, also earned them another Top 40 hit, with both that track and "How You Like That" hitting No. 33 this summer. BLACKPINK also worked with Dua Lipa on 2018's "Kiss and Make Up" and recently on 2020's "Kiss and Make Up (Remix)" featured on her Club Future Nostalgia album.
They're no strangers to breaking records and making history. In 2019, they became the first all-female K-pop act to play Coachella, with a primetime, earth-rattling Friday evening set. Their massive video views continue to grow thanks to their massive, loyal fanbase, known as Blinks. The "How You Like That" video broke three Guinness World Records in June and 2019's "Kill This Love" recently hit one billion video views, to name a few.
Their most recent single, "Ice Cream," features none other than pop princess Selena Gomez (currently with 158.7 million views on YouTube) and will be featured on their highly anticipated debut LP, BLACKPINK: The Album, due out Oct. 2. Surely there are more charts to climb and hearts to win over with their debut.
Photo: Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty Images
New Music Friday: Listen To Releases From Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, ATEEZ & More
December begins with a blast of new music from some of music's biggest stars. Press play on five new releases Jung Kook & Usher, Tyla and others, out on Dec. 1.
While 2023 may be coming to an end, the first releases of December prove that it's far from time to wind down.
From Taylor Swift — who released "You’re Losing Me," a song originally recorded for her 2022 smash album — to Dua Lipa’s extended edit of her single "Houdini," and Lana Del Rey's cover of "Take Me Home, Country Roads," listeners are being treated to new tracks from familiar favorites today.
Start off your month by listening to these tracks and albums from seven artists that will jumpstart your month.
Beyoncé - "MY HOUSE"
Queen Bey surprised fans with an early Christmas present by dropping "MY HOUSE," her first single since 2022’s Renaissance. This track was featured during the credits of her new Renaissance concert film.
Written and produced by The-Dream, this song showcases Beyoncé’s rapping skills, as she effortlessly weaves verses over a powerful horn melody. There's a vibe check in the song's second half, where the music becomes a smooth, electronic dance groove reminiscent of Renaissance’s ballroom vibe.
Jung Kook & Usher - "Standing Next To You (Remix)"
BTS' pop singer Jung Kook is back with a remix to his track "Standing Next To You," this time joined by an R&B sensation. The remix features a new verse from Usher, who adds a delicate touch to the vibrant, high-paced song.
The original track was released last month as a single on Jung Kook’s debut album, GOLDEN. This could be fans' last time hearing Jung Kook's music for a while — the "golden maknae" of BTS announced he’s enlisting for mandatory military service this month.
Tyla - "Truth or Dare"
GRAMMY-nominated Afrobeats star Tyla is closing the year with a sneak peek of her upcoming self-titled album. The hypotonic single "Truth or Dare," following the success of her GRAMMY-nominated song "Water" (the song is nominated for Best African Music Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs alongside "Amapiano" by ASAKE & Olamide, "City Boys" by Burna Boy, Davido's "UNAVAILABLE" feat. Musa Keys, and "Rush" by Ayra Starr).
In this new song, Tyla revisits an old flame — this time with newfound wisdom and assurance that she won’t fall for his charm anymore: "So let's play truth or dare, dare you to forget / That you used to treat me just like anyone."
Tyla announced her upcoming self-titled album on social media, captioning, "African music is going global and I’m so blessed to be one of the artists pushing the culture. I’ve been working on my sound for 2 years now and I’m so ready for the world to hear it."
Lana Del Rey - "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
This cover might not come as a shock for fans after she referenced a line from Denver’s 1972 "Rocky Mountain High" on her track "The Grants" from GRAMMY-nominated album Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. (At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Did You Know is nominated for Album Of The Year alongside Jon Batiste's World Music Radio, Olivia Rodrigo's Guts, Swift's Midnights, Janelle Monae's The Age Of Pleasure, SZA's SOS, Miley Cyrus' Endless Summer Vacation and the record by boygenius. Did You Know is also nominated for Best Alternative Music Album alongside The Car by Arctic Monkeys, PJ Harvey's I Inside The Old Year Dying, Gorillaz's Cracker Island and boygenius' album.)
The track features Del Rey’s signature soothing vocals, as a Western-style melody balances the instrumentation. She brings her own sultry style to this '70s country classic, while continuing to show her musical versatility.
ATEEZ - The World EP:FIN:WILL
Five years after their debut album, K-pop group ATEEZ have returned with The World EP:FIN:WILL. The 12-track album is led by "Crazy Form," an Afrobeats/dancehall-influenced track, and also features many solo and unit tracks from the group.
Members Hong Joong and Seonghwa took the reins on "Matz," a dynamic hip-hop track, while Yeosang, San and Wooyoung collaborated for the R&B-influenced "It’s You."
During a Seoul press conference, Lead Hong Joong spoke about the group’s evolution and how fans should look forward to future releases.
"This year marks our fifth debut anniversary and so far, our greatest achievement has been establishing a strong relationship with our fans around the world. We hope to continue presenting music that can make our fans proud of us," he said.
Photos: Image from TiVO; Dave Benett/Getty Images for Alexander McQueen; Prince Williams/WireImage; SAMIR HUSSEIN/WIREIMAGE; Arturo Holmes/Getty Images; Image from TiVO; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Here Are The Song Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The eight nominees for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMYs are hits from some of music’s biggest names: Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Jon Batiste, Taylor Swift, SZA and Dua Lipa.
The Song Of The Year GRAMMY Award honors the best releases in the music business, and the eight nominees for the golden gramophone at the 2024 GRAMMYs come from a variety of established singer/songwriters. From dance anthems to pop bops, ballads and R&B smashes, the nominees for Song Of The Year showcase the breadth of emotions of the past year.
Before tuning into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, learn more about this year's Song Of The Year nominees below.
"A&W" - Lana Del Rey
Songwriters: Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey & Sam Dew
The second single from her ninth studio album, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, "A&W" is a refreshing addition to Lana Del Rey’s expansive discography.
Another shattered portrait of the American Dream, the seven-minute epic, oscillates from madness to exhaustion, as Del Rey described feeling burned out by being objectified and perceived as an "American whore." What begins as a psychedelic folk ballad erupts into a defiant trap number interpolated with a doo-wop standard by the four-minute mark of the chaotic number.
"I’m a princess, I’m divisive/Ask me why I’m like this/Maybe I just kinda like this," Del Rey anxiously warbles. Later, she expresses her resignation surrounding rape culture: "If I told you that I was raped/ Do you really think that anybody would think/ I didn't ask for it? I didn't ask for it/ I won't testify, I already f—ed up my story."
"Anti-Hero" - Taylor Swift
Songwriters: Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift
"Anti-Hero" showcased a new side of Taylor Swift — a rare moment where the 33-year-old pop star confronted her flaws in the public eye.
"I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before," Swift said of the track in an Instagram video. "Not to sound too dark, but, like, I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person."
The self-loathing synth-pop anthem — with its cheeky chorus — catapulted "Anti Hero" into virality. With its ubiquitous meaning, the song topped charts and became a staple of pop radio. Now, it’s enjoying the highest praise as a contender for Song Of The Year.
"Butterfly" - Jon Batiste
Songwriters: Jon Batiste & Dan Wilson
Beyond its sound, what makes Jon Batiste’s "Butterfly" so stunning is the story behind it. The touching jazz-soul fusion track is an iteration of the lullabies Batiste penned while his wife Suleika Jaouad was hospitalized during her cancer treatment.
"It’s just such a personal narrative song in relation to my life and what my family has gone through and my wife and all of the things she’s been able to overcome," the 36-year-old GRAMMY winner told PEOPLE.
"Butterfly" is featured on Batiste's latest album, World Music Radio. Like much of his discography, "Butterfly" is inherently uplifting but there’s an underlying yearning for freedom. "Butterfly in the air/ Where you can fly anywhere/ A sight beyond compare," Batiste croons over stripped-down keys.
"Dance The Night" (From Barbie The Album) - Dua Lipa
Songwriters: Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt
With the release of her pop-funk epic Future Nostalgia during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dua Lipa proved she could master the art of escapism. On "Dance The Night," a thrilling dance-pop number from the star-studded Barbie soundtrack, she channels that same inspiration with a side of glitter and glam.
"Greta said that the whole film was inspired by disco. There’s a lot of very glittery and pop moments in it," the 28-year-old singer said of how the track fits into the movie in an interview with Dazed.
Over a sleek synth, the pop star reflects the unwavering joy Barbie outwardly emanates while she’s crumbling inside: "Even when the tears are flowin' like diamonds on my face/I'll still keep the party goin', not one hair out of place (yes, I can)."
"Flowers" - Miley Cyrus
Songwriters: Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein & Michael Pollack
Miley Cyrus has perfected the art of reinventing herself. With the post-breakup number "Flowers," she reclaimed her independence and took a hard turn from gritty rock back into pop music. "I can take myself dancing, yeah/ I can hold my own hand/ Yeah, I can love me better than you can," she belts over a disco-pop beat.
While the 30-year-old musician wouldn’t share if "Flowers" was indeed about her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, the song became an empowering earworm from a more refined version of the longtime musician.
"The song is a little fake it till you make it," she said of "Flowers" in an interview with British Vogue. "Which I’m a big fan of." It turns out she made it with a nomination for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMY Awards.
"Kill Bill" - SZA
Songwriters: Rob Bisel, Carter Lang & Solána Rowe
On the psychedelic R&B groove of "Kill Bill," which references the legendary Quentin Tarantino film, SZA dreams up her own unfiltered revenge fantasy. "I might kill my ex / Not the best idea / His new girlfriend's next / How'd I get here?" she ponders over an airy melody.
The song stands out on the R&B singer’s latest album, SOS, for not only its cheeky wordplay but for how visceral she portrayed the devastation of a breakup.
Despite its popularity, the 34-year-old singer initially thought one of the other songs on her 23-track album would have topped the charts. "It's always a song that I don't give a f— about that's just super easy, not the s— that I put so much heart and energy into. 'Kill Bill' was super easy — one take, one night," the singer told Billboard of "Kill Bill’s" success.
"Vampire" - Olivia Rodrigo
Songwriters: Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo
Like her explosive debut "Drivers License," Olivia Rodrigo opted for a swelling power ballad for the lead single of her sophomore album Guts. On "Vampire," the singer/songwriter recalls a parasitic relationship with a swelling power ballad that erupts into a booming guitar breakdown. "Bloodsucker, famef—er/ Bleedin' me dry, like a goddamn vampire," she sings with a bitter lilt.
While many speculated the song was about a toxic relationship, Rodrigo claimed it’s more nuanced than that. "It’s more about my regret and kind of beating myself up for doing something that I knew wasn’t gonna turn out great and kind of just taking ownership of that and dealing with those feelings," she told Sirius XM Hits 1.
Regardless, the 20-year-old artist turned something bitter into something sweet by landing a Song Of The Year nomination.
"What Was I Made For?" [From The Motion Picture "Barbie"] - Billie Eilish
Songwriters: Billie Eilish O'Connell & Finneas O'Connell
Not only was the Barbie movie a massive hit, its soundtrack was, too, thanks to a slew of chart-topping artists including Dua Lipa, HAIM and Sam Smith. So it’s no surprise that Billie Eilish made that list as well, and delivered a gutting ballad that soundtracked one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film.
The wistful single, which arrives at the devastating realization that you’re not real and are instead meant to be consumed, aptly embodies the narrative arc of the box office smash. "Looked so alive, turns out I'm not real/ Just something you paid for/ What was I made for," the 21-year-old musician sings with a heartbreaking lilt.
While writing the sobering number, Eilish tried to embody the essence of the life-sized doll herself. "I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel, and wrote about that," she told Zane Lowe of Apple Music.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.
ZEROBASEONE's Big Year: From Winning "Boys Planet" To The World Stage
The nine-member K-pop act have seen a stratospheric rise over the past year. GRAMMY.com spoke with ZB1 about the most exciting moments of their career and their recently released EP, 'Melting Point.'
Rising K-pop stars ZEROBASEONE have experienced a rapid transition from boy group hopefuls to full-blown idols. While they're full speed ahead promoting their latest EP, Melting Point, it's necessary to turn back the clock and go into the very beginning to fully grasp how their growth has been unfolding.
Last fall, Zhang Hao, Kim Taerae, Sung Hanbin, Seok Matthew, Ricky, Park Gunwook, Kim Gyuvin, Kim Jiwoong, and Han Yujin received an announcement that changed the course of their personal journey: they were accepted into "Boys Planet," a televised K-pop survival series. This platform would introduce more than 90 idol trainees, each of whom strived for the opportunity to debut in a boy group.
Each week of the competition was an uphill climb, but the nine singers were resilient. ZEROBASEONE (shortened as ZB1) emerged as the victors of "Boys Planet," voted by hundreds of thousands of fans around the world who watched them unlock their artistic potential that drafted sky-high expectations.
That summer, the multicultural ensemble from South Korea, China, and Canada released their first mini album, Youth In The Shade. The six-track collection was helmed by "In Bloom," which alludes to the sentiments of flourishing despite the finite nature of a path. "Nothing lasts forever," they sing in the pre-chorus, later reassuring: "But I can change that, my fate."
It was a captivating entry into the world of K-pop and is now the best-selling debut record in K-pop history with almost two million copies sold to date — a milestone that elevated them as "monster rookies." And as such, in true K-pop fashion, they have been busy.
ZEROBASEONE have graced the covers of some of the most prestigious South Korean magazines, made television appearances and circled the globe, all while preparing for Melting Point. In addition to their first performances in Europe, Japan and the U.S., ZB1 performed at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, an event that sold out in a matter of minutes.
But what makes ZB1 truly shine is their essence as artists and individuals. "We have become one," Seok Matthew tells GRAMMY.com over a video call from Seoul. "I just get these random feelings that make me think how grateful [I am] that I got to be a part of this group, and that I have these eight amazing members beside me."
Before ZEROBASEONE continues forging ahead with Melting Point, the group spent some time reminiscing about their big year. From how far they've come since "Boys Planet," to fully stepping into their new facet as K-pop idols, this is the initial stride of nine youngsters etching a future together.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
Winning Big On "Boys Planet"
Seok Matthew: To be honest, I didn’t even think I was going to pass the audition for "Boys Planet" because I went from company to company [when I was a trainee]. But, when I did get in, I was super happy because I found that Hanbin hyung also got accepted [into the show], and that made me feel a lot more relieved. I didn't have high hopes and I knew it was going to be a fierce competition…but he made me feel like I could go into this with a bit more confidence than I would have if I didn't go with him.
Sung Hanbin: When I met [my fellow ZB1 members] as trainees, I could tell from their eyes that they were not expecting "Boys Planet" to be hugely popular. We were all there because we just wanted to show off our potential and present something we hadn't been able to share with the world.
We cannot forget about all the hard work from the program's producers, writers, and all staff members, but on top of that, all trainees' passion is what I believe made the program do so well.
Kim Gyuvin: "Boys Planet'' was the program that made the dreams we have been desiring for a long time come true. I think it was the first step for us to receive the Rookie Of The Year awards [at The Fact Music Awards and the K-Global Heart Dream Awards], which [are] not easy to come by, so we are very thankful and feel extremely fortunate to receive that. "Boys Planet'' really served as a stepping stone for us, and I would say it was truly a life-changing experience.
Officially Becoming ZEROBASEONE
Park Gunwook: The realization [that my life was about to change] came pretty soon because after the final episode aired, we went to the dorm where we were going to live together. It was very exciting to learn that I was going to be starting my group activities and living together with these members that I love and respect so much. I felt like my stomach was full of butterflies every time I thought about that.
Ricky: For me, even before the final lineup was out, we already knew that "Boys Planet'' was getting bigger than we thought it would be. Honestly, I wasn’t not sure if I was going to make it into the group, so the moment my name was called, and I went upstairs to sit in [one of the] top nine chairs, I thought, Oh, this is a big turning point in my life.
Kim Jiwoong: Something I want to mention is that we are a very funny group. [Laughs.] I think it shines through the content that we share with our fans and the general public, and they are getting to know a different side of ZEROBASEONE.
Something that I learned by being close with the members is that I'm really cute — even more than I expected. [Laughs.] I'm the oldest member in the group and as I spend more time with the younger members, I find more pure and childish sides of me that I didn't even know. My relationship with the members has made me feel like a flower that is just blooming, and I'm glad I get to enjoy my youth with them.
Making A Statement At KCON Japan
Zhang Hao: It was our first [official] performance as ZEROBASEONE, and we wanted to show who we are as a group to the world. We wanted to demonstrate what we could do as artists because people have been seeing us since we were trainees, and now we are a debut group. I truly think that the KCON Japan performance was my life’s turning point because it announced the birth of ZEROBASEONE in front of everyone.
Kim Taerae: After we finished the performance, I felt very proud of our group because I think we did well. I also thought that we have a long way to go, and [I know] that we can do better, so we need to work even harder… and truly grow as artists while maintaining our youth and beginner's minds. That was something I was looking forward to right after coming off the stage.
Seok Matthew: I just remember vividly that we got to play with the fans, and we were handing out all these gifts to them. Everyone was having such a great time and I felt like we were actually giving back all the love that they gave us.
At the end of KCON, we all went to the stage to say goodbye [to the audience], and we got to see our sunbaenims [senior groups] we have always admired…it was really an honor. I think that was the big point for us where, after we finished our performance, we thought, wow, I can't believe we just did that. At that point, that's when we were like, "we need to get as good as our sunbaenims."
Releasing Their Debut EP, Youth In The Shade, & Continuing To Grow
Han Yujin: On our debut day, I remember looking at the members and feeling absolutely proud of each and every one of them. And I had this thought that if we work harder, we are going to succeed and improve to be even better. I could just feel it. I also thought that, personally, I wanted to work even harder to resemble my amazing hyungs [older members]. I've been enjoying every single day since our debut.
Sung Hanbin: We chose this path because we've been enjoying the process and we love what we do. While preparing for Youth In The Shade, I learned that there are so many more things to learn — and it's not just about improving ourselves as performers, but also building our experience, attitude, and stage [presence].
We also need to consider our relationship with other seniors and colleagues as well, which I think is essential in this industry. The most important thing that I learned and I'm still figuring out is to be open about new things and grow every day.
Performing At Seoul's Gocheok Sky Dome
Han Yujin: I remember stepping out [to the stage] for the opening song, which was "Back to ZEROBASE." As we started singing the very first part of the song, the door in front of us opened and we were able to see all the audience cheering for us. It was just a very grand moment and I felt overwhelmed and somewhat emotional as well.
It immediately motivated me to give my best throughout the whole concert. I think that specific memory of just being on that stage for the first time and seeing our fans through an opening door will stay in my mind forever.
Conquering Big Stages Around The World
Ricky: KCON L.A. was special for me because Los Angeles is my second hometown, and it was my first time going back since we debuted. As soon as we got there, it made me realize that all the hard work was worth it.
Zhang Hao: And we met Ricky's mom! [Laughs.]
Ricky: It was the first time my family came to see us perform [as ZEROBASEONE], so it was an unforgettable moment.
Seok Matthew: I'd say that one really good memory I have right now is [M Countdown] in France because I was a special MC. It was my first time being able to do something like that, so I did have a bit of pressure. Hanbin hyung was the main MC, and the fact that I was able to do it with him, it was a very cool experience.
After that, I wanted to also get better at all the three languages that I speak, which are French, Korean, and English. And then, maybe in the future, I can get another chance to be an MC. It felt so different because France is really far [from South Korea], right? It was everyone's first time [visiting the country], and it was beautiful.
Releasing Their New Album, Melting Point
Park Gunwook: I think our intention to tell our stories has never altered from our debut album, but we also wanted to show another side of us. In [Youth In The Shade], we wanted to talk more about our identity and who we are as ZEROBASEONE. But Melting Point serves as a chapter where we expand our sound and share our story with the audience and our fans.
We wanted to include some new sounds and powerful performances that we had never presented before. We wanted to show how much we had grown as a team, and how much chemistry we were able to build. Of course, we practiced very hard, but we also had a lot of discussions among ourselves, and we were very open [when] talking with each other.
Kim Taerae: Our debut track "In Bloom" and Melting Point are aligned in the message that we want to walk along with [our fans]. For "Crush," it’s more about, "with all your love and support so far, we are determined to protect you." I think our new album serves as our future direction and our determination for our fans and our music.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
10 Reasons Why 'ARTPOP' Is Lady Gaga’s Bravest Album
Released in 2013 and following the iconic 'Born This Way,' Lady Gaga's 'ARTPOP' was maligned and misunderstood. Yet the avant garde album took admirable leaps in genre, style and presentation — and deserves serious applause.
Universally deemed a misfit (even among Gaga’s off-kilter discography), it was all too easy to crack “artflop” jokes as the record’s reception paled in comparison to the thunder of 2011’s Born This Way. In addition to Billboard-charting bangers aside, Born This Way pledged to be a champion for LGBTQIA+ rights, employing the word “bravery” so frequently that the two are now inextricably bound. The album’s daring demeanor had created a tough spectacle to follow, even for the shock-pop maven.
But rebukes of ARTPOP’s avant-garde concepts and stylings, disregard the record’s brazen interweaving of music, fashion, technology, and digital art. Released after Gaga broke her hip and canceled the Born This Way Ball tour, ARTPOP was a canvas of earth-shattering bursts of pain and passion, and an electronic confessional.
For her efforts and vision, Gaga's maligned 2013 album would become a blueprint for contemporary alt-pop artists — not just with its experimental clash of genres, but through its winking subversion of industry expectations.
In honor of ARTPOP’s tenth anniversary this month, read on for 10 reasons why the overlooked outcast of Gaga’s catalog is actually the bravest album of them all.
It Prioritized Creativity Over Sales And Charts
When the public slams an artist for “only” selling one million copies of an album in a week, record sales lose their shine. After facing flack for her Born This Way numbers in 2011, Lady Gaga entered the ARTPOP era with clear intentions: creativity for creativity’s sake.
“Really, it’s about freeing yourself from the expectations of the music industry and the expectations of the status quo,” she explained during an interview at SXSW. And you know she meant it, because that same week she bucked those pressures by climbing atop a mechanical bull, where she served as the human canvas for the "creative output” of vomit artist Millie Brown.
“I write for the music not for the charts,” she tweeted, addressing a comparison between her lead single “Applause” and Katy Perry’s song “Roar,” which outperformed “Applause” on the Billboard charts. The singles were released days apart, stirring up a heated conversation about which singer was a more powerful pop star. Gaga was, of course, quick to crush the debate.
“Applause” peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and despite being released in mid-November, ARTPOP nabbed 2.3 million album sales worldwide by the end of 2013. In contrast, Born This Way sold 2.1 million copies between its May 2011 release and the end of its debut year in the United States alone.
It Put Gaga In The Producer's Seat — Alone
By 2013, Lady Gaga boasted an impressive list of co-producing credits from working alongside collaborators like RedOne, DJ White Shadow, and Fernando Garibay. Yet ARTPOP marks the first time she slipped behind the soundboard by herself.
For "Venus," an intergalactic ode to lust that blossoms into starry-eyed infatuation, she saluted the titular goddess of love and pushed the men out of the room, folding a hybrid Sun Ra reference/Zombie Zombie sample into her sexually-emboldened EDM. Gaga cites "Venus" as the first song she ever self-produced, a major milestone for the multi-hyphenate and for women producers as a whole.
It Wasn't Afraid To Get Messy
One decade’s definition of "sloppy" is the next decade’s epitome of style. In 2013, the general consensus among critics was that ARTPOP’s sound was often too messy to take seriously. Their examples were copious; "Aura," for instance, dedicates 15 seconds to nothing but hysterical, autotuned laughter over an unraveling country western guitar riff. Manic deep cuts "MANiCURE" and "Jewels N’ Drugs" were labeled choppy and sonically inconsistent, as Gaga allegedly struggled to find common ground between rock, trap, and electronic music.
Compared to the streamlined pop sound of the time — including some of Gaga’s prior hits — ARTPOP’s frenetic mishmash of sounds felt totally alien. "I was desperate, in pain, and poured my heart into electronic music that slammed harder than any drug I could find," Gaga reflected, explaining her need for catharsis over catchiness (a choice that she was lambasted for at the time).
Ten years later, her avant garde approach to pop suddenly seems remarkably en vogue, as genre-hopping and highly-textured sonic palettes become the norm — especially in the alt-pop sphere. In hindsight, it’s apparent that ARTPOP was ridiculed so artists like SOPHIE, Charli XCX, and Dorian Electra could rave.
It Was, Literally, Designed To Be Out Of The World
ARTPOP prioritized pushing art into uncharted territory, and not just on Earth.In addition to a naked Jeff Koons sculpture of Gaga herself, the album’s release was feted with the debut of a flying dress named Volantis. The original creation from Gaga’s TechHaus (a branch of her Haus Labs team) is technically an "electric powered hover vehicle" that fits around Gaga’s body to hoist her into the air. Gaga offered a less technical term for it, calling the dress a metaphor. "I will be the vehicle of their voices," she said during a press conference, sharing her vision for representing young fans in the sky.
Volantis arrived alongside news that Gaga would become the first musician to perform in space aboard a Virgin Galactic ship. The flying dress successfully cleared its first flight; the Virgin ship unfortunately did not. After a fatal test flight, the plans for Gaga’s galactic debut were canceled.
It Crushed Tabloid Trash-Talking
It’s admittedly hard to recall ARTPOP’s ill-conceived R. Kelly collaboration "Do What U Want" without wincing. Beyond Kelly’s unnerving presence on the track, his lone sexually-charged verse ultimately skewed the true message of the song, transforming a kiss off to tabloid journalism into randy radio fodder.
Gaga scrubbed the song from streaming services in 2019, sparing the alternative version that instead features Christina Aguilera. Here, Gaga’s intended retaliation shines: "You can’t have my heart / and you won’t use my mind / but do what you want with my body," she taunts on the chorus, welcoming the public’s superficial — and therefore meaningless — judgments.
When unveiling the track in October of 2013, she took to X (then named Twitter) to trounce a litany of rumors and nitpicks about her weight, likeness to Madonna, and erroneous identity as a hermaphrodite. At its core, "Do What U Want" proved that the only gesture more pointed than a middle finger is cackling while inviting the world to do its worst.
It Invented A New Artistic Concept
Lady Gaga can’t take credit for the notion of art-pop, but she did coin a new phrase, calling the conceptual glue of ARTPOP a "reverse Waholian expedition." Translation: if Andy Warhol transformed mass-produced items like Campbell’s soup into high art, then Gaga wanted to flip the process, placing high art where it could be easily accessible to the public.
As a result, the visual aspects of ARTPOP present a mosaic of the most esteemed masterpieces of all time. The busy album cover fuses the brilliance of American sculptor Jeff Koons with fragments of Sandro Boticelli’s magnum opus "The Birth of Venus," while her outfits for public appearances nodded to greats like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali with brash makeup and fake mustaches. The concept opened her up to mockery — including from Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine — but introduced the basics of art history to millions of listeners worldwide.
It Openly Examined Gaga's Relationship With Drugs And Alcohol
Many of ARTPOP’s most exuberant moments orbit high or drunken states, such as Gaga sneaking around Amersterdam while stoned and incognito on "Mary Jane Holland." Trap outlier "Jewels N’ Drugs," which collects verses from T.I., Twista, and Too $hort, packs the same giddy punch despite its somewhat awkward execution. Yet the party pauses on "Dope," ARTPOP’s sole piano ballad.
The sobering single gazes inward, where Gaga finds a startling void, her spirit gutted after years of addiction. While the song’s lyrics vow to prioritize loved ones over drugs and liquor, Gaga revealed the most personal promise during her album release show.
"I do not have to be high to be creative," she professed from behind her piano, hand raised in the air as if taking an oath. "I do not need to be drunk to have a good idea. I can sit with my thoughts and not feel crazy." On an album bursting with innovation, "Dope" is her firmest pledge to self-improvement, delivered with aching sincerity.
It Ventured Into The Tech World
Designing mind-bending art? There’s an app for that. Or there was, anyways. ARTPOP arrived with a supplemental app, designed to enhance Gaga’s multimedia approach to the album’s release. As a way to empower fans to dabble in digital art, one of the app’s main features was a gif and still image generator that allowed users to choose from a rainbow of gyrating geometric shapes and backgrounds. Most creations straddled the line between optical illusion and Tumblr-ready art. The app also offered fans the ability to stream the album and chat with each other.
It was an entertaining endeavor, albeit ultimately a short-lived one. Despite an in-app countdown for other features, including a stream of new behind the scenes videos and a digital audio workshop called TrakStar, neither element came to fruition. Due to Gaga’s shift in management, the project was never developed further.
Still, the ARTPOP app remains a unique addition to pop’s first brushes with modern tech, long predating crossovers like Charli XCX performances on Roblox and AI-created music.
It Refused To Shy Away From Themes Of Sexual Assault
When ARTPOP hit shelves, the world was still three years away from the awareness about pervasive sexual assault revealed by the #MeToo movement. But a hush around the topic didn’t stop Gaga from eeking out a screech or two about her own experiences with abuse in 2013. While Gaga has since divulged more information about her unfortunate experiences with predators as a fledgling popstar, the ARTPOP track "Swine" dropped some of the first angsty breadcrumbs about her survival story.
"I know you want me / You’re just a pig inside a human body / Squealer, squealer, squealer, you’re so dis-GUS-ting," she practically spits with revulsion on the chorus. The deep cut is an exorcism dressed up as a rave, revealing a gut-churning snapshot of a woman publicly processing her own violation years before the act was deemed acceptable.
It Was Her First Record After Canceling The Born This Way Ball
Scrapping a major tour over an injury shouldn’t warrant a comeback, but that’s what the world demanded of Lady Gaga when her Born This Way Ball hit the brakes. Gaga was forced to end the tour early in February 2013 when she broke her hip, thwarting her ability to walk, let alone dance. As she underwent surgery and paparazzi vied for photos of her in a Louis Vuitton wheelchair, the public largely viewed the truncated Born This Way Ball as a personal failure on Gaga’s part.
By the time ARTPOP arrived, the expectations for her next move couldn’t have been higher — which made Gaga’s spasmic, genre-jumping, vomit-covered return to pop all the more daring.