Applause (Lady Gaga song)

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"Applause"
Single by Lady Gaga
from the album Artpop
ReleasedAugust 12, 2013 (2013-08-12)
Format
Recorded2012;
The Record Plant (Hollywood);
Platinum Sound Recording Studio (New York City)
Genre
Length3:32
Label
Writer(s)
  • Stefani Germanotta
  • Paul "DJ White Shadow" Blair
  • Dino Zisis
  • Nick Monson
  • Martin Bresso
  • Nicolas Mercier
  • Julien Arias
  • William Grigahcine
Producer(s)
  • Paul "DJ White Shadow" Blair
  • Lady Gaga
  • Dino Zisis
  • Nick Monson
Lady Gaga singles chronology
  • "Applause"
  • (2013)
 
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"Applause"
Single by Lady Gaga
from the album Artpop
ReleasedAugust 12, 2013 (2013-08-12)
Format
Recorded2012;
The Record Plant (Hollywood);
Platinum Sound Recording Studio (New York City)
Genre
Length3:32
Label
Writer(s)
  • Stefani Germanotta
  • Paul "DJ White Shadow" Blair
  • Dino Zisis
  • Nick Monson
  • Martin Bresso
  • Nicolas Mercier
  • Julien Arias
  • William Grigahcine
Producer(s)
  • Paul "DJ White Shadow" Blair
  • Lady Gaga
  • Dino Zisis
  • Nick Monson
Lady Gaga singles chronology
  • "Applause"
  • (2013)

"Applause" is a song by American recording artist Lady Gaga, taken from her third studio album, Artpop (2013). Written and produced by Gaga and DJ White Shadow, the song was released on August 12, 2013 by Interscope Records as the album's lead single. Originally intended for a release through mainstream and rhythmic airplay on August 19, 2013, it was rush-released a week earlier after two snippets of the song were leaked online on August 10. Details of the song were revealed throughout 2013 as Gaga tweeted its lyrics in early 2013. Written while touring for her Born This Way Ball, "Applause" was almost left out of Artpop.

Musically, the song contains electropop and Eurodance. Lyrically, it deals with how she is dependent on her fans' adoration, while her vocals on the track have been compared by music critics to those of Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics and David Bowie. While, overall, the song received generally positive reviews, contemporary music commentators incessantly compared the track to Katy Perry's "Roar", due to the proximity and nature of their releases. Pervasively, the commercial competition between the two songs has been the subject of many news articles and musical critiques.

"Applause" was commercially successful. It became Gaga's twelfth top-ten (and ninth top-five) single in the United States, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. The record reached number-one in Lebanon, Greece, Hungary, South Korea, and Spain, peaking within the top five in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Wallonia while also peaking within the top 10 in over 15 other markets.

To promote the record, Gaga performed at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, with many other notable live performances following. Additionally, Gaga sported the dramatic and colorful makeup employed on the single's cover art as a promotional tool on the day of release and after, encouraging her fans to wear it as well. The concept was inspired by a scene from the track's music video, which saw an official release on August 19. While on Good Morning America, Gaga premiered the video on the screens in Times Square. Beforehand, Gaga released an impromptu lyric video that she shot herself at the Mickys' drag nightclub.

Production and composition[edit]

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A 21-second sample of "Applause", an electropop and Eurodance song.

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"Applause" was written and produced by Gaga and DJ White Shadow, along with Martin Bresso, Nick Monson, and Dino Zisis while on the road for her Born This Way Ball tour in 2012.[1][2][3] It was speculated as a song by Gaga for her album Artpop in early 2013, when she tweeted lyrics from the song followed by, "The Applause".[4] In July 2013, Gaga announced that "Applause" would be released on August 19, 2013,[5] but was rush-released a week early on August 12 after two snippets of the song leaked online. The song has a tempo of 140 beats per minute. It is written in the time signature of common time and composed in the key of G minor, following the chord progression of Gm–F–E–Cm–F–Gm, and her vocals span from F3 to D5.[6] The record has been pinned to the electropop[7] and Eurodance[8] music genres, with vocal acrobatics likened to Annie Lennox's work with the Eurythmics and David Bowie.[7] The work was praised for returning Gaga to her pop roots[8] and mirroring the output of The Fame era[9] with abrasive staccato synths and lyrics that were called "a kiss-off to critics".[9] She said of the meaning of the song on her Twitter:

'Applause' is a very meaningful song to me, because it addresses what many think of 'celebrities' today, that we 'do it' for the attention. But some of us are 'artists' in this group called 'celebrity,' & what we create doesn't live on unless theres an audience to remember it. So I may need your attention at first, so I can sing you my song. But its the 'Applause' after that let me know if I've entertained you. Entertainment makes people happy, I live for the 'Applause,' to know I've spread that. I live to hear you cheer, to just be a part of that.I believe in show business. The 'Applause' is what breeds that thing that I love. When I know i've made you happy. When I know it was good.[10]

Release and promotion[edit]

Gaga first tweeted lyrics from the chorus of the song in January 2013.[11] In July 2013, a photo was published on Gaga's social networking site, Little Monsters, of Gaga painting on a canvas with the word "Applause" written on the top with, "8-19-13" written twice on the canvas, the single's release date.[12] Later, Gaga posted a picture of a drawing she had done, saying that she drew pictures and recorded ideas for Artpop in a notebook she always carries around with her. On July 28, she tweeted that iTunes was going to offer pre-order for her album on the same day of her single release, noting "Applause" as the title, much to fans' speculation.[13]

On July 28, Gaga revealed the official artwork for "Applause" on Women's Wear Daily's website. A promotional photo for "Applause", released on July 26, shows her sitting nude on a chair made out of motherboards and computer parts, wearing futuristic mirrored glasses.[14] On August 10, two small snippets of the song leaked online.[15] On August 12, Gaga, in the midst of a potential leak, released the song a week early onto various radio stations across America.[16] The single was made available in many countries just before midnight (EST) on the iTunes Store, coupled with a pre-order of her fourth studio album, Artpop.[17] According to the Official Charts Company, the record spun over 10,000 copies within a few hours.[17] In response to the leak, Gaga released a teaser trailer of "Applause" that quoted harsh journalism that attacked her credibility as an artist; in the video, Gaga is shown wearing a strange mask, with the sound of applause in the background with direct quotes from critics placed over top. Such phrases included: "Lady Gaga is over"; "Lady Gaga is no longer relevant"; "Do not buy Lady Gaga's new single 'Applause"; and "If you do not like pop music, turn this off". Many construed the clip as an attempt at reverse psychology.[18][19][20]

Seen in goth costume on the day of the single's release, Gaga wore clownish face paint similar to what is displayed on the "Applause" artwork to various promotional events for the single. The Huffington Post compared the style-shift to Marilyn Manson, saying: "With her black hair slicked back, a face full of white powder and her black blazer and shirt combo, Gaga could have easily been mistaken for Manson if it wasn't for her towering heels."[8] The make up was originally done by Tara Savelo.[21] In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Gaga revealed that, during the process of picking the lead single for Artpop, she played numerous songs for Jimmy Iovine, an executive at Interscope Records. Of the 40 songs she played for Iovine, he selected "Applause", the last song played, saying: "Every record that you played me is better than the one that you played before it, so the last one should be your first single." Gaga said the song almost missed the cut for inclusion on Artpop.[22]

Critical response[edit]

"Applause" received generally positive reviews from music critics. Chris Richards of The Washington Post described "Applause" as "an unsurprising electro-pop sugar cube with Gaga seeking our approval in a voice somewhere between Annie Lennox and David Bowie." He wrote, "It's good. Maybe even slow clap good. Because while so many (too many!) of Gaga's songs have been designed to boost the esteem of her flock, this song finds her openly pining for the mass-adulation that all superstars need to survive."[7] Erin Coulehan of Rolling Stone wrote in her review, "Built on choppy synths, 'Applause' takes fans back to The Fame as Gaga sings about how she survives on the adoration of her fans. There's little evidence of the Eighties-rock vibe Gaga developed for her 2011 album Born This Way here. 'Applause' is all bouncy disco and simple messages."[23]

Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly gave the song a positive review, commenting, "In Gaga's new song, which sounds like something you might hear in a very accessible Berlin sex dungeon, she is a star demanding that you clap for her. Of course, this being Lady Gaga, there are layers—she's critiquing fame (we're guessing). Although there's surely nothing ironic about the music, which pounds and pounds until it finally achieves an almost pleasant climax."[24] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard gave "Applause" a positive review, commenting that the song "morphs into a thrilling dance cut when it circles back to its chorus."[25] Popjustice rated the song 9/10, with their review only consisting of the comment, "And this is why Lady Gaga is the best popstar in the world."[26]

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine gave a mixed response, writing that "Applause" is "a surprisingly straightforward dance-pop song, neither forward-thinking nor retro (despite a lyrical reference to nostalgia), existing in a sort of nondescript limbo. Musically, it's a throwback to the simpler productions of 2008's The Fame, while lyrically the song perpetuates Gaga's reputation for self-aggrandizement, complete with an affected British accent," and favoring the previously-leaked song "Aura" over "Applause".[27] Spin, however, criticized the song's "bland dance-bot foundations" as "a bit behind the times at a pop moment where the biggest song-of-the-summer candidates have moved back toward '70s-inflected guitars."[28]

Commercial performance[edit]

Gaga performing "Applause" at her residency show, Lady Gaga Live at Roseland Ballroom

Due to the proximity of the single's leak to fellow pop singer Katy Perry's "Roar", "Applause" has been fervently compared to it.[29][30][31] Gaga received negative press after reports of her attempting to artificially increase the single's placement on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Some sources reported it as an attempt to beat the sales of "Roar".[32][33][34] She was criticized for Tweeting fans and encouraging them to purchase numerous copies of the single, with the chance to meet the singer in London offered as an incentive.[35][36][37][38] The tweet provoked criticism by Billboard's Editorial Director Bill Werde, who said "An artist tweeting out and Facebooking a link that enables a fan to hit play and leave their computer is not in the spirit of what we chart".[39] Following this, Gaga stated that she would be rewarding the fans with the most creative ideas, and not those who purchased the most copies of the single. The winners were two fans who designed "Applause soup", featuring the single's artwork on a can of Campbell's Soup.[40]

In terms of digital downloads, Nielsen SoundScan forecasted both "Applause" and "Roar" to sell upwards of 400,000 units in their first week.[31][41] By the end of the week, Nielsen SoundScan and Billboard had lowered the estimated amount of "Applause"'s first week sales from 400,000 to between 200,000 and 225,000,[42][43] while "Roar" went on to sell over 557,000, thus earning Perry the highest first-week sales numbers of 2013.[44] "Applause" did not enter the Billboard's Hot 100 on its first week.[41] "Applause" also ranked below the top 75 threshold of the US Radio Songs chart, with 16 million audience impressions across 210 stations, with the track officially impacting radio stations on August 19.[41] While the song fell short of the Hot 100, "Applause" did peak at number one on the Dance/Electronic Songs chart,[41] and entered the U.S. Pop Songs Chart at number 20; the highest debut on that chart, by a solo female artist, in 2013. The following week, "Applause" debuted at number six on the Billboard Hot 100. Following its radio and retail release on August 19, the track charted on Digital Songs at number three, Streaming Songs at number nine and Radio Songs at number forty.[45] On its second week on the charts, the song climbed to number four on the Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at number three on Streaming Songs (due the release of the music video), and thirty-five on Radio Songs, despite falling to number five on Digital Songs with sales of 163,000.[46] In its sixth week, the song sold 160,000 copies and reached 1 million copies sold, becoming her eleventh song to do so.[47] In the same week, it rose to number nine on the Radio Songs chart, becoming her tenth single to reach the Top 10 on the airplay chart.[48] It managed to stay in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 consecutive weeks. As of 30 March 2014 the song has sold 2,413,000 copies according to Billboard making it Gaga's 10th biggest selling song in the United States.[49]

According to the Official Charts Company, "Applause" sold over 10,000 copies within a few hours in the UK;[17] peaking at number five in the Official UK chart, making it her highest charting single since "Born This Way" but dropping to number nine on its second week.[50][51] After four weeks on sale, Applause has reached the top 10 in 25 countries worldwide. "Applause" spent five consecutive weeks on the Official UK Chart Top 10. Applause was certified Gold in other international markets including Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden for selling 15,000 copies, 7,500 copies, and 20,000 copies respectively.[52][53][54]

Music video[edit]

Background and synopsis[edit]

The music video was directed by Inez & Vinoodh and was released on August 19, 2013.[13] It was first premiered on Good Morning America and was broadcast on screens in Times Square.[55] Prior to its release, Gaga used her Twitter to reveal that it is inspired by the entertainer's passion for shape-shifting, further adding, "Would you do 'anything' for the Applause? Iconography in motion, as magic."[56] DJ White Shadow further spoke about his collaboration with Gaga, saying "I watched the whole editing process. I went to New York with her and sat in a room for two days while she color corrected and went through the video frame by frame. She is such an intricate part of everything that moves, that it's all a part of the same vision..... She's very into making sure that everything has its place. The video is really fun and exciting and she looks awesome in it..... It's Lady Gaga! It's a Lady Gaga video! It's a good video. It's really fun."[56] On the day of its premiere, Gaga said that her team used a lot of different looks with each being very representative of different parts of her and her obsession with transforming.[57] The video draws heavy inspiration from the arts, including Sandro Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Andy Warhol's depiction of Marilyn Monroe and John Galliano's fall 2009 fashion show.[58]

The video includes shots taken in both color and black-and-white, including artistic and complex scenes such as Gaga's head on a swan, a scene in a bird cage, and the singer seated in a large top hat, as well as more simplistic scenes including Gaga walking in a black outfit wearing a headscarf, and the singer using white cloth, with scenes similar to the cover art of the single, featuring Gaga in bright make-up. Throughout the video bursts of color are shown theatrically. As Gaga sings the line "One second I'm a Koons then...",which is before "Suddenly the Koons is me.", she is transformed into a black swan/human hybrid.[59] Gaga also wears hand-shaped lingerie and a seashell bra with matching shell decoration. Near the climax, the singer features in a violet, crystal-like scene, and at the end, the name of her album Artpop is spelled using hand gestures.

Reception[edit]

The video received mostly positive reviews. Glenn Gamboa from Newsday described it as a barrage of artistic images and choreography continuing the song's theme of combining art with pop culture.[55] Erin Coulehan of Rolling Stone magazine noted that the video was in "typical Gaga fashion", further calling it a spectacle of flashing lights, vivid colors and intricate choreography.[60] Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly also echoed Coulehan's statements about the video being in Gaga fashion, adding that it "makes the song sound infinitely better... It doesn't quite hit the high notes of "Paparazzi" or "Bad Romance," but it's definitely a step up from the middling clips from the Born This Way era."[61] A writer from Billboard magazine described the video as "a collection of arty postures and scenarios" further comparing the black-glove bra with a Janet Jackson magazine cover.[59] A writer of Rolling Stone also compared the bra with Jackson's look on an issue of the magazine's cover. The writer further compared the black-and-white look of the video with Madonna's "Vogue", 1920s German Expressionist cinema and Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. He further noted influences from Heath Ledger's Joker, Black Swan, Liza Minnelli, Hillary Clinton, Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More", and Beyoncé Knowles in a scene evoking Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.[62] Similarly, another writer of The Independent compared her make-up with a clown, and noted that "the high energy accompaniment..... is a hotchpotch of imagery that seems to highlight the pop princess' ever changing appearance."[63] Chris Rovzar of Vanity Fair described the video as a moving photo shoot for Interview magazine "except with more sanity". Rovzar concluded that it also featured "the standard Gaga nonsense", a little catchy dance routine and praised Gaga's smile during several scenes of the video as a highlight.[64] Conversely, Spin wrote, "'Some of us just like to read,' she sings, and hey, that includes us. But it's easier to clap for something that moves or touches you, rather than serves as an advertisement for Gaga as incomprehensible high-end brand."[65] Consequence of Sound wrote in their review "Gaga's head appears on a black swan and she boogies down in a clam bikini. If this doesn't bump up her sales, I no longer believe in art."[66] MTV, while giving a mostly positive review of the video, joked that the clip "most certainly wasn't your standard breakfast-hour fare," continuing "It is obtuse, odd, and most certainly does not go well with oatmeal..... But that's precisely the point."[67]

Lyric video[edit]

The official audio for the single was released onto her Vevo channel, within hours of the leak, receiving over two million views within 12 hours. Gaga released a lyric video, her first ever, for the single on August 14, 2013. The lyrics are splayed over footage mostly filmed the night before by Gaga herself at the drag nightclub, Micky's, in Los Angeles.[68] The drag queens who performed included former RuPaul's Drag Race contestants Detox, Morgan McMichaels, Shannel, Willam Belli, Courtney Act and Shangela.[69] Shangela, a drag queen who attended the event, wrote on Instagram that Gaga was: "super sweet and showed love to all the Queens and Fans. A True Star!".[68]

Awards and Nominations[edit]

YearCeremonyAwardResult
2013MTV Europe Music AwardsBest Music VideoNominated
2014ASCAP AwardsMost Performed SongsWon
Billboard Music AwardTop Dance/Electronic SongNominated
Billboard.com's Readers PollBest Music VideoWon
International Dance Music AwardsNominated
MTV Japan Video Music AwardsVideo of the YearNominated
Best Pop VideoWon
World Music AwardsWorld's Best SongNominated
World's Best VideoNominated

Live performances[edit]

The song was performed live for the first time at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.[70] Gaga began her performance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York wearing a square-shaped head piece and an all-white cape. Pre-recorded boos, which rang throughout the arena, were quickly replaced by cheers and applause. Gaga, assisted by male dancers, changed into the black sequin leotard featured in the video for "Applause."[71] On September 1, 2013, Gaga performed "Applause" at London's Roundhouse as part of a show that was broadcast live online for the month-long iTunes Festival.[72] On September 9, 2013, Gaga performed the song on Good Morning America, playing multiple characters from The Wizard of Oz.[73] Gaga also performed the song in the 2013 television special Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular as both a solo and a reprise with The Muppets.[74]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was performed by the members of glee club in the 2013 Glee episode "A Katy or a Gaga"[75]

Track listings[edit]

  1. "Applause" – 3:32
  1. "Applause" – 3:32
  2. "Applause" (Instrumental) – 3:32
  1. "Applause" (Empire of the Sun Remix) – 4:08
  2. "Applause" (Viceroy Remix) – 4:27
  3. "Applause" (Purity Ring Remix) – 3:04
  4. "Applause" (Bent Collective Club Mix) – 7:26
  5. "Applause" (DJ White Shadow Electrotech Remix) – 5:49
  6. "Applause" (Fareoh Remix) – 4:52
  7. "Applause" (DJ White Shadow Trap Remix) – 4:09
  8. "Applause" (Goldhouse Remix) – 4:34

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

RegionDateFormatLabel
Canada[157]August 12, 2013Digital download
United States[158]
Austria[159]August 13, 2013Universal Music
Belgium[160]
Finland[161]
France[162]
Germany[163]
Ireland[164]
Italy[165]
Luxembourg[166]
Netherlands[167]
New Zealand[168]
Norway[169]
Portugal[170]
Singapore[171]
Spain[172]
Sweden[173]
Switzerland[174]
United Kingdom[175]
Italy[176]August 19, 2013Mainstream radio
United States[177]August 20, 2013Interscope
Japan[178]September 11, 2013CDUniversal Music
Germany[179]September 13, 2013
Singapore[180]September 16, 2013
Hong Kong[181]
France[182]
United Kingdom[183]
Korea[184]September 18, 2013

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]