Lady Gaga’s new single “Applause,” rushed out a week early after Internet leaks, jumps from the speakers like a disco dancer pumped up with vodka Red Bull.
The track is better than suggested by the initial leaks of its slightly downbeat chorus, which calls for applause -- and got little on Internet blogs and Twitter.
The slight song is as bouncy as a trampoline, or maybe a 1970s Space Hopper. Gaga is back on the relentless bandwagon of retro disco that’s been so successful for Madonna, Daft Punk and the Pet Shop Boys.
Incendiary material for the dance floor, shiny disco ball not included. It’s also disposable Eurotrash. Rating: **.
Gaga’s “Artpop” is due on Nov. 11. The leaks of new Gaga and Katy Perry singles have taken the spotlight off other stars readying their albums.
Janelle Monae’s “The Electric Lady” on Sept. 10 will be much more interesting if it’s anything as creative as Monae’s outstanding “ArchAndroid” from a couple of years back.
Another songwriter to watch is Britain’s Thea Gilmore, who is getting praised by Bruce Springsteen, no less. Her most recent CD, “Regardless,” matches her best work.
Tracey Browne’s music comes from the same territory, though with more than a hint of the late great Kirsty MacColl. Her “Everyone is Ordinary” album is heartfelt and melodic. On Browne’s website, Gilmore calls her “the real deal, an exciting new talent.”
The description of “the real deal” is also being applied, at least by her publicists, to Ashley Monroe, a country singer from Tennessee. She has written with Guy Clark and Vince Gill, who produced her “Like a Rose.” Think young Dolly Parton with added articulacy and attitude.
Tess Henley’s “High Heels and Sneakers” is a soulful fusion with mainstream rock that works best on “From the Get Go.”
Caroline England has music on iTunes, a pure voice and a delicately beautiful video called “Tumbleweed” that deserves a wider circulation. Her latest, “On Reserve,” has another classy video and came out a couple of days ago. Ratings for all: ****.
Some great singers are making determined comebacks: Mari Wilson (yes, she of beehive-hair fame), Alison Moyet (the voice of “Only You” and “Love Resurrection”) and Agnetha (the blonde one in ABBA).
Dido’s “Girl Who Got Away” keeps her in the gentle mainstream, with her folky edge blurred with ambient and dance sounds. India’s A.R. Rahman joins in and adds a children’s choir from Mumbai.
Dance has always been foremost for Katy B, who is working on a second CD after the dubstep classic “On a Mission,” which was nominated for the U.K.’s Mercury Prize in 2011. Judging by her live shows, Rita Ora’s next CD will also improve on her debut, the poppy “Ora.”
What the Stars Mean: ***** Exceptional **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on arts, Scott Reyburn on the art market, Catherine Hickley on music and Frederik Balfour on books.