THE BLOG
22/11/2013 11:21 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

How to Ruin a Lady Gaga Song

Do What U Want is the second single from Lady Gaga's latest album, ARTPOP, and features R. Kelly on backing vocals - a man so sleazy, he makes Robin Thicke look like Aled Jones.

Do What U Want is the second single from Lady Gaga's latest album, ARTPOP, and features R. Kelly on backing vocals - a man so sleazy, he makes Robin Thicke look like Aled Jones.

Now, pop collaborations are a pretty vibrant field - when done well they can mean chart-topping albums, dual-billing tours and a profound broadening of audiences.

So it irritates me when the collab is a bludgeoning hatchet job with lyrics seemingly written on the way to the studio. AND IT REALLY GETS ME when the newcomer completely screws up the music by misrepresenting its meaning.

R. Kelly appears to be the latest offender in an identity parade that includes T.I. (My Love), Dizzee Rascal (You Got the Love) and Phil Collins (Genesis).

To re-cap - since 2008, Lady Gaga has sold over 20m records, gathered 40m Twitter Followers and promoted her music by provoking real discussions about gender, sexuality and animal rights.

In contrast - for anyone under 25 - R. Kelly is the guy behind Trapped in the Closet, an absurdist hip-hopera which melds Pirandello and Steve Reich via Tommy Wiseau's The Room.

So if I were R. Kelly, and Lady Gaga was on the line talking about a spot on her new album, I'd be damn sure to show up on the day with something more substantial than a bunch of identikit soundbites that I dug out from a Word 97 document.

After all, the song Do What U Want has several layers.

Up front, it's a raunchy party tune that identifies Gaga's dislocation between sex and love.

'You can't have my mind but do what you want (with my body).'

Delve further and you realise it's also about media intrusion; it promotes Gaga's records as the essential platform for her message.

'You can't stop my voice, cause you don't own my life'.

So we've got two themes there - her as an empowered sexually active female, alongside someone who feels they are misrepresented by the press - possibly because of said empowerment.

Over to R. Kelly...

'Early morning, longer nights, Tom Ford, private flights'

Hang on - what the hell just happened? I thought this song was about...

'... Do what I want, Do what I want with your body'

No R. Kelly - STOP! You've missed the point...

'Back of the club, taking shots, getting naughty, No invitations, it's a private party...'

Oh Christ. Just as long as you don't...

'And we lay in the club like we don't give a f**k.'

Oh. You just did.

I don't want to come down too hard on R. Kelly - if I'd composed Michael Jackson's You Are Not Alone at 26, then I would probably feel at liberty to phone in this gig - hell I'd probably look like Rob Ford by now.

But pop music is at its worst when it most resembles a sausage factory - an automated production line of tired clichés, and forgive me for demanding more. An artist needs to protect their work from too many reductive compromises, and Gaga's recent split from long-term manager Troy Carter should not go un-mentioned.

Which actually begs the question - Lady Gaga must have known that this is the type of content R. Kelly would deliver, so was her decision to work with him informed by his predictability?

After all, his verses sound so dated - perhaps Lady Gaga's pseudo-feminist angle is addressing his outdated notions face to face?