Because based on lyrics alone, it’s apparent that “Aura” is more than a single … at least to Gaga. Like “Applause,” which imbued fan approval with life-giving, almost magical powers, she’s determined to make a profound point; this time, it seems to be equating pop superstardom (or a celebrity) with religious obligation and subjugation. Though, in a twist, she’s admitting that she does these things not because she has to, but because she wants to.
She starts off the song by admitting she killed off her “former” self, leaving Stefani Germanotta in the trunk of a car in order to become Lady Gaga, pop icon. There are, of course, sacrifices to be made — the loss of a private life, the constant criticisms, etc — though, she knows they are necessary, singing “I’m not a wandering slave, I am a woman of choice/My veil is protection for the gorgeousness of my face.”
Those lines, of course, bring us to the song’s central metaphor: the Burqa. It is, of course, the garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies in public, an act that can alternately be seen as an example of either pious duty or societal suppression (for simplicity’s sake).
Of course, to Gaga, it represents fame and celebrity, and as such, both interpretations of the garment apply: she wears the veil of fame because she wants to — after all, the Pop Deity must maintain an, uh, aura of mystery — yet also because she has to in order to keep us all at arm’s length.
Some Muslim women took umbrage with the way Gaga sexualized their religious garments (the Burqa is worn out of modesty, and lines like “Do you want to see me naked, lover?/Do you want to peek underneath the covers?” certainly don’t qualify as such), and members of the media accused her of using the garment to shock, and Gaga addresses both of those issues when she sings ” Enigma popstar is fun, she wear Burqa for fashion.”
Of course, she’s also quick to point out that those criticisms are missing the point: She’s wearing the Burqa not in the hopes of shocking us, but, rather, to show her solidarity to her sisters around the world; whether they’re living lives of obligation or subjugation, she sympathizes with them. Because, in some way, the life of celebrity lends itself to both … Lady Gaga gives herself onto all of us (or something like that).
It’s pretty clear that these big ideas were what Gaga was referring to when she first announced ARTPOP earlier this year, declaring it to be a “system that combines music, art, fashion and technology with a new interactive worldwide community.” And the name of that community? “The Auras.”
At the time, a lot of us probably rolled our eyes, but now, we’re beginning to see her concepts take root. In Gaga’s eyes, “Aura” is more than a song, it’s a statement, about the creation process, the concept of celebrity, the giving of one’s self to a greater good, and upturning social stigmas.
How? Through “Dance, Sex, Art, Pop and Tech,” of course. There’s a method to her madness, after all.