A showdown of millennial pop divas has come upon us and the results may surprise you. Katy Perry's new single "Roar," off of her upcoming fourth album Prism, will sell about 525,000 copies in its first week. Lady Gaga's lead single, Applause, from her upcoming third album, ARTPOP will sell about 225,000. Probably not the results that you were expecting. So, what happened?
Applause was scheduled for August 18, but a leak of the song forced it to be released a week early -- the same week as Perry's Roar. The two went head to head last week and the results are not what those in the industry were projecting. This has people frothing at the mouth, making statements like "Gaga is over." In fact, it had Gaga herself releasing a video claiming she was "over." It has her fans defending her with every breath. It didn't help when she then launched a contest asking fans to buy multiple copies of the single.
Are these critics right? Has Lady Gaga's time as a polarizing and powerful pop force come to an end? I would have to give a huge resounding, "No!" While "Applause" isn't the ultra-catchy, anthemic single we were expecting, it's certainly no throwaway track. As lead singles go, it definitely ranks under "Just Dance", "Bad Romance" and "Born This Way". It's something you would expect from her as a final single, catered only to the clubs. That's really the bigger issue here. We have come to expect such big things from Gaga, that a great song that would be a hit by anyone else's standards seems like a disappointment coming from her. 225,000 copies in one week are numbers that any artist (and record label) would be ecstatic to have. Those that are expecting it to do numbers as large as her last lead single are just unwarranted. After all, not every single can be as career defining as "Born This Way" or "Poker Face".
The comparisons between Katy Perry and Gaga are unfair as they are two very different artists. Yes, they're both young, female singer / songwriter / performers, but that's about where the comparisons should end. One could even argue that "Roar" is Perry's "Born This Way." Self empowerment anthems tend to do very well, as shown by the total pop domination of "Born This Way." For Gaga to do another one so soon would just be reductive. "Applause" is actually a brutally honest song. Gaga admits that she "lives for the applause" and the attention from the adoring (and not so adoring) public. It's a song that isn't as relatable and 'feel good' as "Roar," but I'm quite sure it wasn't meant to be. It takes a lot of chutzpah and authenticity to admit to the world that their love is so very much needed.
So is Gaga over? By the sheer amount of press this inconsequential, media-created spat has gotten, the answer is, quite simply, "no." As Madonna, 30 years at the top and counting, knows well, when you reach a certain level of success people will always be there to bring you down. The fact that they are still talking about you though, means you are not going anywhere anytime soon. Gaga, you'll be getting applause for a very long time to come.