Monday, June 01, 2009

Lady GaGa Deserves The Fame

Lady GaGa is probably the most polarising force in pop music today. No other diva is loved and hated with so much passion. Up until recently, I was one of the few pop aficionados to set up camp in the lonely middle ground between the fanatics and the haters. That changed when I saw the video to "Paparazzi". I've always been a fan of Lady GaGa's music (I ranked "The Fame" as the 12th best album of 2008 in my end of year countdown and in retrospect, it really should have been top 3) but this was the first time that everything clicked for me - the music, her avant garde image and the artsy styling. I was originally going to write a simple post about the amazing "Paparazzi" video but I'm more interested in why the woman generates such a negative reaction from people. Here are some of the reasons I've come up with:

1) Her Music
This is pretty self-explanatory. No one has to justify their musical taste. However, many GaGa haters rant about her stealing ideas from other artists and lament that she was simply lucky to hook up with a hot producer. Ironically, these remarks often come from fans of Britney and Madonna.

My response: Personally, I think it's hard to disrespect Lady GaGa as an artist. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she writes all her own music and can actually sing live unlike the aforementioned divas. I'm not suggesting for a minute that she reinvented the wheel (electro dance pop is hardly a new genre) but at the moment she's simply doing it better than anyone else.

2) Her Authenticity & Image
This has always been my biggest problem with Lady GaGa. As much as I love her music, I always felt that she was trying way too hard. A common cry from maniacal haters is that she's too manufactured and pretentious. I also think some of her eccentricities are a little forced - like walking around London without pants in the middle of winter and that incredibly lame saga with her teacup. However, as a hardcore trash addict, I have a ridiculously high tolerance for publicity whoring. Most of my idols would throw their grandmother in front of a truck for a photo opportunity, so I find it hard to get worked up about Lady GaGa flashing her knickers.

My response: I honestly believe if Lady GaGa were a charisma free robot from Sweden the very same people who diss her would be singing her praises. I think we should be celebrating the fact that the biggest pop star in the world right now has a face like a slapped arsehole and dresses like a blind tranny. Lady GaGa brings something different to the music scene with her leotard fetish and crazy costumes. She's following in a long line of fabulous outcasts like Grace Jones and Amanda Lear. While those women carried off "crazy chic" (for want of a better description) effortlessly, does it really matter if Lady GaGa's outrageousness is all part of an elaborate marketing plan? The woman has always been completely upfront about her desire for fame and fortune at all costs. I find it hard to judge someone for displaying that rarest of qualities in a pop star - honesty.

3) Her Success
Lady GaGa's biggest crime is upsetting the pop pecking order. In the space of 3 months she's equalled Britney's tally of #1 hits on the Billboard charts and brought dance music to the American mainstream - something Madonna hasn't managed in over a decade.

My response: I firmly believe this is the real reason why most people hate her. If Lady GaGa was just another flop diva like Annie, Robyn or Roisin Murphy - she would be the darling of blogland. The great irony is that the haters loudly lament the absence of pop music from the upper reaches of the charts and yet, when a pop act actually manages to push aside the indie bands and rappers, they still complain. I'm not even going to guess what the future holds for Lady GaGa. Sometimes I think we're witnessing the birth of a new pop icon and other times I think she could be the pop equivalent of Alanis Morissette by having one hugely successful and influential album that overshadows the rest of her increasingly irrelevant career. But even if that is the case, I still think "The Fame" will join "Fever", "Confessions", "State Of Mind", "Neon Nights" and "Lost & Found" (shut up!) as one of the greatest dance-pop albums of this decade.

Now I've got that off my chest, I want to write a little something about "Paparazzi". Sorry that this is turning into such a long winded post! It's just that this happens to be one of the best videos I've seen in a very long time. "Paparazzi" takes me back to glory days of the late 80s/early 90s when video clips were considered an artform - not just a cheap and cheerful way to promote music on youtube. So what makes the video so good? Everything. The styling is incredible, the storyline (remember those?) is fabulous and Jonas Akerlund's direction oozes class. It's pretty much perfect from beginning to end. Here are some of the highlights:

- No one really needs to see Lady GaGa making out in bed for 30 seconds but do you blame her? If I were in her place, I'd be sitting on Alexander's face for hours!
- I love it when the poor bitch is thrown off the balcony. The scene where she's falling against the hypnotic background reminds me of Lars Von Trier's Zentropa. The effect is positively iconic.
- Perhaps the best thing about the clip is the strong vein of black humour that runs through it. The newspaper headline "Lady GaGa hits rock bottom" makes me laugh every time and the wheelchair scene is a trippy cross between Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and Xanadu. In other words, it's completely fucking perfect!
- Lady GaGa's dance routine on crutches redefines fierce.
- The Minnie mouse styling in the grand finale is positively creepy. It's like a shoot from Italian Vogue edited by a Japanese Anime director with an arse fetish. I think I like it.

The greatest thing about the clip is that it's so quintessentially GaGa. This is the first time she has really come into her own. Kylie wouldn't have the balls to pulls this off and Madonna doesn't have the sense of humour. "Paparazzi" showcases an amazing pop star at full flight. Bend over and take it like a man - this is a triumph!

24 comments:

Paul said...

well i'm certainly no fan of Lady Gaga. But not really for any of the reasons you state :) I just don't get her mass appeal and that's mainly because for whatever reason (occasionally i have these bizarre moments where i actually loathe what everyone else loves, when usually i'm often caught up with the hype) her music doesn't connect with me. I certainly do think she's done amazingly and will probably continue to do so. But nope, not for me and she's yet to change my mind. Which is odd, because she's probably tailor made for my tastes. Oh well.

tommie said...

He is the most contrived, fake pop 'star' ever to be produced by a Swedish producer. I hope (s)he dies a painful death.

Heidi Montag proved that Lady BlandBland has no soul when she did "Fashion" with perfection while Lady DullDull did it so humourless and boring.

Parker said...

I totally agree in all you've said and you could not be more right except in the part where you say she can sing live. I saw her on tv trying to do Just Dance and it was hedious. But who cares...

Scott said...

I couldn't agree more. While I always thought she knew her way around a pop hook and was a brilliant media manipulator, it was the dancing on crutches what won me over!
"Kylie wouldn't have the balls to pulls this off and Madonna doesn't have the sense of humour."
SO TRUE!
Mores the pity.

John said...

Well thought out and completely logical. While I haven't seen her live in person, the live performances I have seen have been mixed at best. Still, the fact that she's doing it live while many contemporaries are unapologetically lip-syncing says volumes.

Jay said...

CaCa has about as much personality and charisma as Lisa FLOP-Lee and Ratshit STDvens, is about as interesting as Annie and that hideous Agnes bint and tries sooooo hard that she makes desperate wannabe Rosin Murphy seem like the lithuanian girl behind the counter in your local McDonalds. Not to mention her head is so far up her own arse that she makes a certain VILE deranged fanaticist lying heshe nobody seem well balanced and sane.

Donatella wants her face back.

And the "music" is every bit as bland and cookie cutter "electro / dance" as those robotic Swedish strumpets who have one shit and then vanish into obscurity, or the pages of Nuts.

Not to mention the fact that it wouldn't be so big if it wasn't for all the hype - like other "overnight sensations" Silly Allen, Duffy, the camel, Katy Perry, Adele etc it is the fact that the public are sheep and have been told to like her that makes her popular - and noone can deny the dodgy downloads in the US that just so happened to make CaCa a TRANSatlantic #1 - payola is BACK and bigger than EVA! peepee must be counting the coppers to ensure her next shitefest does the double...

Jay said...

Did I mention that CaCa is utterly fucking VILE?

Wosrt plastic surgery since JANFAT's last boob job...

Yuяi said...

Very well-said, Mike! Even if you lose all your pop-trash cred, I'll still read ya! I too like LG and think the new vid is very artsy-fartsy. Girl's got talent, that's for sure. And she has brought dance back into mainstream pop, and that's a good thing.

Guy said...

I've not liked Gaga at all, but that's starting to change. I'm not sure why, but I think it's 'cause her visuals are now a match for the Gaga "concept". I used to find all this talk of Warhol hard to stomach when, for example, the clips to Just Dance and Poker Face were slightly av. But paparazzi is fantastic. To think she has to suffer the indignity of supporting the Pussycat dolls...

Aaron said...

Well, As Parker's comment reminded me - She massacred Just Dance on Sunrise - but otherwise, she doesn't really bother me.

I like her sound, her image does seem a bit forced as you say - but hey, I don't really mind either way!

will said...

Great post! I am absolutely sick of Lady Gaga, but yes, her success is well-deserved. She worked her ass off and continues to. The songs itself truly aren't anything special, but paired with her antics and her ability to visually stimulate the public, everything just comes together. I loved the video for "Paparazzi". It's been a while since we've seen over-the-top done right.

Ro Ro said...

I loved her even before america took to her. I force fed all my friend<< yes 1 lmao! I think shes a wonderful song writer as well as performer. She wrote that heidi vomitag number someone said she sang horrible. If u like the tune u have her to thank for it.As for stealing ideas how do u think mandonna survived? If vadge is smart she'll take a few lessons from queen gaga. I really do think shes been replaced though. GaGa has been in the top 10 albums here in the usa since she debuted back in october. Long live the new Queen!

Daniel said...

I've been reading this blog for a while now (and have enjoyed every single post!) but haven't felt moved to comment until now. My best lesbian and I have been having a knock-down drag-out over The Gaga that almost resulted in my canceling our tickets to see Kylie in NYC this fall, so I have a bit to say on the subject.

First I was apathetic toward The Gaga. Then I liked her. Now I kinda loathe her. I first heard Just Dance about a year before it became this huge hit and thought that it was just another decent, anonymous club track by some whore who we'd never hear from again. A few months later, I listened to it again and fell in love with the lyrics - you gotta love a song that's about being so shitfaced you can't even remember the name of the club you're in, and nothing else! What ruined it for me was the crappy-ass verse in the middle from the anonymous male singer. The rest of the song has a great sense of humor, and that part is so DEAD. SERIOUS. But I tolerate it because the rest of the song is a tasty little treat.

Then, Just Dance became this huge hit out of nowhere, and I saw just who this Lady Gaga was. She was Truly Outrageous in every sense of the word. And her fashion was Fabulous. I liked it, even if I did find her going on and on about her music being "art" somewhat annoying.

Then I heard the album. And I became a hater. It wasn't exactly generic, but it was only a couple of steps away from it, which was the last thing I expected from this crazy creature. That, and the singles have been a case of diminishing returns. Poker Face has an incredible intro, but turns into a Just Dance retread before too long. Same thing with Love Game (although I do like the line about taking a ride on a disco stick). The Paparazzi video is pretty damn awesome, but the bottom line is that she talks a big game, but doesn't live up to it. Her music is electro-dance-pop with a HEAVY hip-hop influence; it isn't anything new, and it certainly isn't art. And she keeps on claiming that it is.

While I kind of agree that blogland would be spewing all over her if she were Swedish, I think it's also equally possible that they would be jumping all over her for so obviously "selling out" to mainstream American musical taste. Those bloggers are a fickle bunch.

Wow that was longer than I expected. But anyway, thanks for the blog (you've totally turned me into a Dannii fan) and thanks for this post. Very thoughtful, even if I don't completely agree.

Scarlett said...

This was such a great, thoughtful post. She really is the most polarizing thing in music today, and though I can see why some don't like her, I do like her music a lot. She's tongue-in-cheek and I think people would enjoy her antics a lot more if they just didn't take her so seriously. :)

Adem With An E said...

This is probably one of the best posts I've read all year, and perfectly states a lot of my own opinions on why people dislike her so much.

I love her, even when she was difficult and odd during my interview with her, I still loved her. Seeing her live was incredible; she CAN sing live, you're bloody right, and her on-stage professionalism stuns me. At the show I saw her perform last year in Melbourne, people were nearly knocking her over, she was at eyeline with her audience and the mosh-pit (no joke) of teenage kids at the venue nearly barricaded past security several times and could have done some damage. Yet she didn't miss a single dance step.

She could take a dump in a paper bag and say it's art now for all I care. She's already won her place in my heart and won't be going anywhere.

Bit about the face like a slapped arse/tranny made me laugh and actually chortle for a good 20 minutes.

D'luv said...

Great post, sweetcheekz. I have no doubt people who are fans of Madonna and Brixxxney feel threatened by Lady GaGa's success, but you left out the part where she actually writes her own music.

And, yeah, Madonna gets a writing credit on her crap tracks these days, but that's probably because it's etched into her contract with each producer's blood for it to be that way.

Jamie_movietrip said...

I love Gaga too, I don't understand the hate either, she's not too pop or too trendy, she's got a striking image, and she's a bit strange - what's not to love.

undisco_me said...

I think a lot of the objection towards Gaga from many is that they probably share a lot of the same influences, and probably don't like how she has went on to pay tribue and even articulate what some may feel they know just as much about, if not more.

Otherwise, I think her music has a lot of stamina: what I like best about her and the way she performs is the sense of confrontation - the 'ugly' bissexual girl who deliberately wants to be adored and dissected.

It baffles me to compare her to Madonna as Gaga is very much the underdog, the empowered outcast or someone who has something to prove essentially because of how people categorise her looks and what this usually dictates about their mass appeal.

Her videos still aren't excellent, but she has some outstanding images. Paparazzi is the closest anyone has came to being outstanding for a very long time. I'm talking I Begin To Wonder standards.

A critic once wrote of an also-ran pop star who released her debut album in 1984, that 'if the world were a better place, Cristina (Monet) would have been Madonna' - I think that's the hunch about Gaga, we all think we know better.

Justin said...

She's vile and contrived. In a few more years people will be kicking themselves wondering why they even bought her garbage in the first place.

Mr Christopher said...

I was really worried for her at those awards!

http://edwinsraisin.blogspot.com/2009/06/lady-gaga-transgender-awards-canada.html

rcLoy said...

I'd sit in front of Alexander/Eric's face whole life if I could too. LOL.

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