When Lady Gaga revealed the bizarre cover art for the final pre-release promotional single from her upcoming album, Artpop, it was hard to reconcile both the title of the track, “Dope,” and the Gorillaz-esque caricature of the singer sporting grills and several scrapes and bruises on her thighs and torso with the version of the song she first previewed at the iTunes Festival in September. Simplicity is next to godliness when it comes to pop music, but the melody of the original was elementary, the arrangement bland, and the lyrics riddled with bromides like “I’d rather be poor and happy than rich and alone.” Formerly an ode to Gaga’s “little monsters” uncharacteristically titled “I Wanna Be with You,” the schmaltzy piano ballad has been transformed into a rue-soaked, electro-rock lament about substance abuse and lost love. “I promise this drink is my last one/I know I fucked up again/Because I lost my only friend,” she intones at the start of the song, affecting an intoxicated slur. Gaga has been very public about her supposed battle with addiction, and whether or not it’s just an another costume for the singer to wear, she’s nonetheless composed a convincing anthem of remorse: “Just one last puff and two last regrets/Three spirits and 12 lonely steps,” she vows before proclaiming, “I need you more than dope.” Maybe it is indeed a song for her fans after all.
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