Single Review

Lady Gaga’s “Venus”: A Reverse Warholian Expedition in Outer Space

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While you were out celebrating Halloween a week early and getting too turnt up in da clurb surrounded by five hundred Miley impersonators and a lone Spring Breakers bikini hottie, Mother Monster was in her hotel room in London soaking her ashy ARTPOP feet, staring into a Koons gazing ball and refreshing YouTube all night to amp up the view count on her latest Reverse Warholian Expedition, “Venus.” (And yes, she’s fully aware you’re all just going to call it “Penis.”)

“Venus,” which was pushed to not-really-a-single-status following the runaway success of promo-single-turned-actual-single “Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly)” (DURRWHACHURAH WIMMAH BAHHHHDAY) is all of the things.

It’s sort of like if “Judas” was sent into space in 1974, did some LSD in a gay bar on Mars and then came back to tell the tale.

The track was produced by Gagaloo herself in betwixt fancy gentleman mustache shopping, with songwriting assistance by DJ White Shadow, Madeon, Dino Zisis and Nick Monson.

Like everything Gaga’s ever done, the song’s a scavenger hunt of references to the past: The first line is an interpolation of jazz artist Sun Ra‘s “Rocket Number Nine Take Off for the Planet Venus.” (Don’t worry, he’s credited. Express yourself, Sun Ra!) The delivery style, like those “Applause” verses, is very much David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. And the structure of the verses is sort of like Bananarama‘s own “Venus.”

The lyricism is truly next level — at least for true lovers of texting lyrics via emoji: “Aphrodite lady seashell bikini / garden panty.”

The production’s tight (thanks Gaga), and the beats sound sick. But it’s all about them intergalactic earworm hooks. There are 4 hooks in the song, so sayeth Sister Swine: There’s the aforementioned Bananarama-y verses. There’s that moment where the beat drops out, serving that early ’90’s club euphoria (“I can’t help the way I’m feeling / Goddess of love, please take me to your leader!”). There’s the stomping martian build-up (“Take me to your planet! Take me to your Venus!” — and yes, she really, really knows you’re singing “penis” there.)

And then, there’s the real chorus.

Once she hits her stride with the true chorus, it’s total pop euphoria: “When you touch me I die just a little inside / I wonder if this could be love!” That’s a fucking hook! That chorus is “Bad Romance”-level good. You see, no matter how weird Gaga gets with her music (and her music is finally getting as weird as her image), she’ll always bring it back to that undeniably massive pop chorus.

But don’t miss out on that bridge, either: In the market for some campy fun? Try Gaga’s intergalactic round-up, effectively turning each planet into a queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race: “Uranus / Don’t you know my ass is famous?! / Mars, now serve for the Gods!”

And so, there’s “Peni — sorry, “Venus,” a track just weird and stupid and messy and catchy enough to work. Had it been released just a few months prior, it would have certainly Sandra Bullock‘s favorite track to bump in her Gravity spacesuit.

Are you ready to blast off with Mother Monster?

ARTPOP will be released on November 11. (iTunes)