The arresting image of Gaga's faces smeared with blue, red and yellow streaks of paint and sandwiched in the folds of a white sheet, premiered on the Women's Wear Daily site over the weekend.
Shot by photography duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, the picture and accompanying interview are the official confirmation that the as-yet-unheard song will be the first bit of new music from the anticipated album. The song will be available on iTunes on August 19, which, Gaga revealed on her LittleMonsters community, will also be the first day fans can pre-order the ARTPOP album and interactive app.
Gaga shot the "Applause" video, directed by Van Lamsweerde and Matadin, in Los Angeles a week ago. The cover image is a still from the shoot that Gaga said shows a vulnerable part of her personality that fans rarely see.
"It's the end of the night after the show," she said of the shot, in which her hair is covered by a black head wrap. "When I look at it I see that there is a longing for the applause. I see that there is a void that is leaking onstage, that the performer is leaking, that the art is sort of becoming something else in front of your eyes. Something more human, something more honest." Gaga said she was near tears during the shoot that produced the image.
She also revealed a bit about the sessions for the song, which she co-wrote with longtime collaborator DJ White Shadow. "I'll tell you that it is very fun," she said. "And that it's full of happiness, because what I'm saying in the song essentially is that I live for the applause. I live for the way you cheer and scream for me. Give me that thing that I love. Put your hands up, make them touch.
"In my heart of hearts as I was writing, I knew that if I asked [the fans] to cheer for me before I sang or if I alluded to the fact that they would cheer for me before I sang ... They do that all the time for me; before I even open my mouth, the fans start cheering for me," she continued. "And so this exclamation, 'Give me that thing that I love. Give it to me. I'm ready, start the music.' "