ARTPOP Review: Dope
Originally a Swinefest exclusive, ‘I Wanna Be With You’ instantly found it’s audience. The song was a fan favourite and the sort of affair that probably should remain as such – it didn’t have the power that a Gaga single needed. It presented the credible side of her – expert songwriting, decent hooks and a passionate vocal delivery – all topped off with the undeniable talent she displays on piano. However, it’s position – sat beside, potentially, some of the biggest songs of her career – found it sonically overshadowed. Until now, that is. The butterfly escapes the cocoon as the new and vastly improved ‘Dope’.
‘Dope’ will appropriately find itself filed next to ‘Speechless’ and ‘You and I’ – it has the subtle kick of the latter but prides itself on the pure emotion that sets Gaga’s ballads apart. The piano work is splendid – she displays an excellent control of the less-is-more formula that many thought was absent after the eccentric offerings she’d lead the campaign with. The title itself can seem a little jarring – like most peculiar references, the novelty soon fades, but just what the drug reference adds, beside potential controversy, is questionable. The perfect production, and perhaps a more intriguing title, was all that actually needed to be altered from the original arrangement. That being said, the titular refrain is the only thing that sits anywhere below an excellent standard. Everything else is incredibly developed.
‘Dope’ is the first real candidate for a Gaga ballad to shine as a single. That’s not to say that ARTPOP doesn’t have more worthy choices -it certainly does – but this track has a spectacular appeal in it’s introverted beauty that wouldn’t see too many disappointed faces should it be given the honours. Universal Records, you can get that greyscale video out of the cupboard – we might just be needing it.
Words: Simon McMurdo