Pop! Week Goes Gaga, Part 1

Like most of the rest of America, I am strongly reconsidering my love affair with Lady Gaga.

The first blush of bad romance (I know: ouch, right?) was intense, accompanied by feelings of giddiness and rushes of new, intense pleasure. She was a post-modern pop girl, a smart person’s take on Britney Spears. She performed dance pop songs that pulled in abrasive sounds and a grittier than usual subject matter (her breakout hit “Just Dance” is told from the point of view of a club girl too intoxicated to function; it’s a pretty unglamorous scene for a top 40 hit). She wore funny costumes and cavorted like every day was high art Halloween. And, hey, ha-ha, it turns that behind all the flash, she’s this great piano player and singer.

There’s a palpable joy in being Lady Gaga. She seemed to be getting one over on the world. You’d have to be a sourpuss to not fall in love with that.

Overexposure took its toll. The high-water mark is probably the Lady Gaga Halloween costume. You can’t be startlingly original every day, and even if you could it would seem boring after a while.

And also, the Madonna thing. Sure, Lady Gaga seems like a genius original when you compare her to Britney Spears and Christina Aquilera, but go back a little bit further and, well, yeah, there’s a precedent right there. It’s not all that fair: if you want to be a fashion sex music diva monster, you’re going to get into Madonna territory. That’s a big fat “duh.” Bur borrowing melodies from two Madonna songs and half-assing through the “Like a Prayer” video does not help your case.

Nor does putting out boring music help the case. Despite the (somewhat) admirable message, “Born this Way” is Gaga’s dullest song, lacking in her usual abrasive or operatic musical flourishes, and Judas is, for her, pretty formulaic.

What I would love to see her do is strip down the whole operation. As I mentioned above, Gaga is a very talented singer and piano player. She doesn’t need to do all the theatricality; it’s just nice that she does. She could do a great album of piano ballads or torch songs, or just swing hard into the David Bowie-esque piss take on Alicia Keys style she adopts when she sits behind a piano and starts fucking around.

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