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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Pop superstar and professional provocateur Lady Gaga releases "ARTPOP," her third full-length album today. Critic Tom Moon says if you've been following all the pre-release hype, the actual music may register as a letdown.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO WHAT U WANT")

TOM MOON, BYLINE: The apparatus Joni Mitchell famously described as the star-maker machinery has been in overdrive lately, preparing the world for Lady Gaga's new music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO WHAT U WANT")

LADY GAGA: (Singing) What you want with my body? You can't have my heart and you won't use my mind but do what you want with my body. Do what you want with my body. You can't stop my voice because you don't own my life but do what you want with my body. Do what you want with my body.

MOON: Since the summer, there's been a steadily rising crescendo of leaks and audacious tweets and pop-up performances in various countries. Last month, at a nightclub in London, the singer and songwriter scored some extra media coverage by disrobing completely while singing this song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VENUS")

GAGA: (Singing) When you touch me I die just a little inside. I wonder if this could be love, this could be love. Because you're out of this world, galaxy, space and time. I wonder if this could be love, this could be love.

MOON: The crazy-expensive campaign will no doubt seem familiar to anyone old enough to remember Madonna. The thing I keep wondering, is it enough to distract people from the fizzy, derivative, overheated and undercooked music on the unfortunately titled "ARTPOP"?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SEX DREAMS")

GAGA: Last night, damn you were in my sex dreams. You were in my - doing really nasty things. You were in my dreams. Damn you were in my sex dreams.

MOON: It seems our dear Lady Gaga, she of the incandescent melodies and million-dollar sing-along refrains, got lost in some South Beach club and came under the spell of electronic dance music. She went and got the sleekest beats money can buy, and then she wrote thoroughly predictable four-measure hooks that talk about the burdens of fame or explore the various stages of physical attraction. Here's the most musically-intricate one. It's called "Swine".

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWINE")

GAGA: Squealer, squealer, squeal out, you're so disgusting. You're just a pig inside. Swine. Swine. Swine. Swine.

MOON: There are other glimmers of cleverness - a few songs appear to worship at the altar of high fashion, but they could just as easily be snarky commentary. Of course, Lady Gaga got where she is by working every angle, both inside her music and in the culture. Sometimes it's cool when you can't tell the circus from the sideshow, but with this album, I couldn't shake the sense that the art of "ARTPOP" is much more evident in the marketing than in the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANICURE")

GAGA: I'm going to be manicured. You want to be manicured. Ma-ma-ma-manicured. She want to be manicured.

SIEGEL: The new album from Lady Gaga is called "ARTPOP." Our reviewer Tom Moon is the author of "1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die".

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