There is something quite mesmerizing about a simple, great Pop song. That is, of course, the kind born not out of necessity and calculation, yet of total respect and appreciation, of absolute love and adoration for the craft and the genre. Although most radio fare appears identical and interchangeable in its origins and inhabitants, simple, great Pop thrives on its recognizability and connection to the creator, feeling as if a direct extension of their soul in the midst of commonplace tropes and styles.
In truth, it is that kind of Pop which seems easiest to envision yet is perhaps hardest in execution, forcing whomever is at the helm of its ship to cut through monotony and sameness with genuine, remarkable spark. One cannot merely fade into the production and soundscape, expecting magic to occur on its own; truly simple, great Pop only works when the singer has enough charisma and individuality to make you feel as if they are speaking directly into your ear.
And it is “Stupid Love,” Lady Gaga’s Technicolored ode to irresponsible romance, which embodies all of these qualities in a delicious, celebratory rush. Coming off the sepia-toned uber-despair of her Oscar-winning torch-ballad “Shallow,” there seems almost a perverse deviance within this latest single’s sizzling, bludgeoning Moroder-flavored bass, as if one has stumbled out of black-and-white sobriety into a hedonistic hub of neon and pastel.
Such vibrancy is only enhanced by stuttering house-flavored cries and Gaga’s own lush, buoyant trademark coos of soul, bubblegum, and theater as she seamlessly switches from one tone to another, even melding them together with effortless dexterity. Whilst she pleads for her lover’s stupid love as if a triumph of the will, one senses an immense catharsis and release, allowing any remaining torture and madness to dissipate and disappear. It is not pain and suffering this starry-eyed romantic is immersed in, but that naïve yet daring notion that merely embarking on a relationship is battle in and of itself.
Joy, desire, enchantment, release—these are the hallmarks of simple, great Pop. That is not to say that anger or sadness are excluded from achieving similar results; it is merely that that anger and sadness must be carefully coated in brighter, prettier, and sometimes even sillier hues. With “Stupid Love,” Lady Gaga has mixed these properties dutifully together, managing to hark back not only to her own discography of effortless dance gems, but also to the bedazzlement of Pop antiquity.
Amidst the marvelous chirps, dramatic shouts, and impossibly gorgeous harmony (“Look at me noww-owwww” may be what Pop is all about), one can grasp the torrid amour-volcanos of 1960’s girl groups colliding with the sensuality of disco’s tainted rapture; a ruthless, passionate pervasion of pure pleasure, reckless abandon, and good vibes. Here exists a lightness and delicacy, unconcerned by pursuits of complexity in a way that feels refreshing and defiant in the current musical landscape.
And that is not to say that “Stupid Love” is immaculate nor perfect. It could easily have been birthed from supermarkets and drugstores, shimmering with its elusive, commercial majesty as if fully aware of the potentially banal purpose of which its serves. However, it is that knowledge, along with the outer-space artifice of its video clip, which makes “Stupid Love” so entirely illuminating. It does not provoke nor challenge nor shatter like many of her revolutionary singles and deep-cuts; yet it marinates in its simple, great Pop magnificence, reminding us that sometimes the purest and most obvious statements about love can, in fact, be quite invigorating and electrifying, can cut to the core and soothe our senses.
In anyone else’s hands, this all might feel trite and trivial and completely lose its power. Though, in the shining, expert palms of Gaga, “Stupid Love” feels like a precursor to something more sprawling, more endearing, and, of course, more fun.