The Real ARTPOP: 5 Female Artists Expanding the Definition of Pop

Inside the art pop -- not ARTPOP -- of Julianna Barwick, Zola Jesus, Chelsea Wolfe, Anna Calvi and Glasser

By Shannon Carlin

Thanks to Lady Gaga, art pop is now one word. A word that will forever be used to describe music that is theatrical, dramatic, emotional, highfalutin and, more often than not, a little silly. But while Gaga is trying to make her ARTPOP a brand by hobnobbing with contemporary artists like Jeff Koons, Marina Abramović and the ghost of Andy Warhol, other musicians — like Julianna Barwick, Zola Jesus, Chelsea Wolfe, Anna Calvi and Glasser — are doing what comes naturally to them. These five women make their own unique kind of pop music that spans multiple sub-genres (black metal, New Age, industrial, post-punk) and a whole grip of influences that include film, fashion, literature, architecture and nature.

They work on a higher plane to create music that uses all of the senses, ranging from the physically moving, wordless pop of Julianna Barwick to the visually striking performances of Anna Calvi. But these women want to do more than pique your interest with their artistic fervor, they want to make you a fan. As Cameron Mesirow, the woman behind Glasser, smartly put it, “I don’t want to be so self-indulgent that it cuts me off from the world.”

As Gaga continues her quest for world domination, these five women will continue pushing the boundaries of true art pop — two words, not one. And while the music itself might not currently be on your radar, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get your attention, or, as it were, applause.

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