Fans can vote on the next Lady Gaga single!
Well, it's not a very formal vote — she basically just told Nick Grimshaw that fans should bombard her label with requests based on the iTunes Festival performances "so we can put out the records that they [the fans] love". She later told Capital that anybody wanting the a follow-up video to 'Telephone' should vote for 'Aura', which seems like a clear attempt to steer the bombarding in a certain direction.
'Aura' should not be the next Lady Gaga single.
While it wouldn't end Lady Gaga's career, 'Aura' would send her further down a poorly-lit road. 'Aura' isn't a bad song per se, but it doesn't strike us as a signature Gaga single, which at this stage all Gaga singles should be. More importantly, although it's ostensibly about various things, the song at its heart is another "I am a popstar generously offering my dedicated fanbase an insight into my persona" tune. As a single, it is not universally appealing, and it's too much after 'Applause'. Like a lot of the chat at the iTunes show it's Gaga talking directly to a specific portion of the people who bought her first one-and-a-half albums.
Perhaps at this point it's time to state something quite clearly.
You and we can see Pac-Man. Either Lady Gaga can't see Pac-Man, or she can see it, but is pretending she can't for the benefit of Pac-Man's mouth. Either way, it's dangerous to apparently put power in the hands of a minority, and it would be wrong to vote for 'Aura' simply to bring about a 'Telephone' continuation.
If Gaga was serious when she suggested to Capital that she'd already thought about a video, she's obviously decided that 'Aura' will come out as a single at some point. So that 'Telephone' continuation won't be lost forever. Let's just have a bit of patience here. Let's pick the song that could re-engage the 'Fame Monster'-era fans who are slowly starting to drift away.
The Stanford marshmallow experiment refers to a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward (sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel, etc.) provided immediately or two small rewards if he or she waited until the experimenter returned (after an absence of approximately 15 minutes). In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI) and other life measures.
The reality of a vote for 'Aura' is that it will be Pac-Man's mouth making all the noise, when really the decision should be made by the bit of Pac-Man where the eyes and ears and brain would be found.
And so we come to 'Sex Dreams'. Gaga must love this song or she wouldn't have included it on her album, much less chosen to perform it live on Sunday night. Given that Lady Gaga seems like the sort of person who — like most of us really — most values someone's opinion when it is exactly the same as her own, 'Sex Dreams' simply wouldn't even be presented as an option were she not prepared for its single release to become a reality. There's a bit of 'illusion of choice' business going on here, but the point is that she also wouldn't mind it being a single. It's a Gaga song through and through. Only Lady Gaga could release 'Sex Dreams'. Yet isn't not only a Gaga song. Listen through the abrasive live vocals on the clip below, and you hear a radio hit.
On a good day Lady Gaga is our favourite popstar (fuck objectivity, how could you ever trust someone who didn't have a favourite popstar?) and we want her to be the biggest popstar in the world. We think her fans want the same thing. 'Aura' will push Gaga further down a path where Pac-Man's mouth gets bigger and bigger, but the overall size of his head begins to shrink. And the smaller that head becomes, the less Gaga will be able to embark on extravagant stadium tours, the less she'll be able to film exquisitely expensive videos, and the less she'll have the freedom to do things bigger and better than anyone else. And that's what her Little Monsters should remember if they do think of following Gaga's wishes and bombarding Gaga's label with requests for 'Aura'.
At risk of making this entire post redundant, it's encouraging that despite Gaga's apparent desire for 'Aura' to be the next single, fans may have figured out the best outcome for themselves: according to a vote on Propagaga, 'Aura' is currently the fans' third favourite song, with 'ARTPOP' leading and 'Sex Dreams' in second place. 'ARTPOP' wouldn't be the worst single choice of all time, but we do feel that in terms of lyrics and title it lacks the broad appeal of 'Sex Dreams'.
It's complicated isn't it? Tell you what, let's just agree that the single shouldn't be 'Jewels & Drugs', right? Right.