Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lady Gaga: Y/N?

I'm always convinced award shows are going to be entertaining/worth critiquing, but it always turns out they never are either, because they are always typical and boring as hell. I turned off the Grammys during the supposedly 3-D (Whatever! The 3-D glasses I took from Avatar didn't work! I knew I should have returned them!) nonsensical Michael Jackson tribute. It's like, does anyone ever really want to see Jamie Foxx do anything? Why?

Anyway, I did see some of Lady Gaga's Elton John duet, which was totally boring just like Elton John himself, except for the always transcendent Tiny Dancer. I also saw Taylor Swift bringing down poor Stevie Nicks, whom she was not fit to share a stage with, and, if I never see Taylor Swift again, I would be pretty happy. When I watch things like this, I always think, "Why are these people, of all people, famous? What do The Black Eyed Peas have that other people don't? Why is Usher still here? Lady Antebellum? What? Do you guys even know what that name means?" The whole thing is such a mindless slog, and it's hard to tell who is excited about anything.

So, that's why at least a Beyonce, or a Lady Gaga makes sense. These people are showmen. They wear more exciting clothes, have more charisma than most, sing and perform (mostly) better, catchier songs (again, The Black Eyed Peas- what is going on with their "music?" Who buys their albums? I did like Fergie's 80's whore dress, though), and at least are an event unto themselves. It's interesting to me that Lady Gaga is famous because she would not have been in the pop princess-dominated early 2000s, but now the tide has turned and we are ready for every person to wear glitter shoulder pads once again. I'm glad that Lady Gaga has turned her mainstream success into a platform for performance art, and that she has chosen to get weirder instead of more normal as time goes on. I would much rather little girls like her and know of her existence than the existence of Taylor Swift. I am also glad she declined to be in the new re-recording of "We Are the World."

Of course, Lady Gaga is not really weird, and the weirdest thing is that she is always being treated as weird, particularly in this day and age. I saw this magazine page that listed Leigh Bowery as one of her influences, and it's like, you know who's weird? Leigh Bowery. And even before him, David Bowie was weird. Cher was weird. Prince was weird. Even Madonna was weird, kind of. And they didn't have stylists. What's weird is that everyone's like, "Oh, this futuristic glam thing is so weird! So new!" but doesn't everyone remember when futuristic glam was THE dominant aesthetic in music for a long time, and that once upon a time, having an extreme, poetic, artistic, bold, raunchy aesthetic was a huge part of music?

Look at these (totally mainstream) weirdos! Remember them? They grabbed their crotches and simulated masturbation and wore feathered headpieces to the Oscars with the best of them, and today we can't even handle Adam Lambert in a suit leading someone on a leash like nothing like it before has ever happened in the history of musical entertainment. One step forward, two steps back, dudes!

PS: Speaking of people who are still "hot" even though they were also "hot" when I was in middle school (ie, Usher, an eighth grade dance staple), Green Day really needs to give it a rest. Like, really.


Simone said...

The thing about Lady Gaga is, she is her own creation. Ie, she has creative control over everything she does including her image. So, she doesn't have some gay telling her to wear that lightning bold outfit hat thingy at the grammys, she did that herself. I think her music is "eh", but once I realized it wasn't about the music, but about the GROTESQUE and the SPECTACLE and all that, I got pretty into her. I mean, she also has said good stuff in interviews about how important it is to be creative, which I think is something the young people (and the rest of us, too) should hear more pop stars saying... you know, because she actually IS being creative and doing her own thing, instead of being another bland pop tartlet showing her boobs just because they are there.
anyway, there's my rant about lady gaga. she fierce.

Zoe Roller said...

i'm always embarrassed to admit i use the internet, but i like your blog. anyway here is why i can't get down with lady gaga: http://www.artandculture.com/feature/1842

although when i worked at a clothing store this summer all these girls came in asking for crazy, hideous tranny dresses so they could look like lady gaga, so i guess she's a good role model.

zoe roller

Mary said...

I think you are both right! She is no Leigh Bowery, she IS conventionally attractive/heteronormative, etc- especially compared to her multiple influences. At the same time she is part of a mainstream culture that doesn't have any Lady Gagas right now.

I think we have to view her in that context. Because we know the history of all these other people, we recognize her failings- but then if you are some kid at the mall in the middle of nowhere (or even me as a seventh grader in San Francisco), and you never heard of Klaus Nomi or whatevs, hopefully Lady Gaga's image at the mall will be revalatory, or at least show you that things can be a little bit different. I think it will be interesting to see what she does with all this.

Thanks for reading my blog, Zoe...I know having an internet "presence" is lame but that is how you have to sell, sell, sell your brand these days! That's why I am so rich.

Naira said...

Zoe's point about Leigh Bowery is interesting. it also reminded me of how lady gaga has sampled images from another potent cultural reference, The Night Porter. She used the archetypical night porter look ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVBdqGLtqFc&feature=related ) in the video where she's singing about someone's disco stick, i guess it's called love game. she's making a lot of references, but it's not clear what she is trying to convey by tapping into these charged images. does anyone even get her references? i think she's being reckless about these references, throwing them around like red herrings.

Anonymous said...

hey, i just want to throw my two cents in on taylor. i think taylor swift is ok. she's only like, 18, and has been writing songs for country singers for YEARZ. granted, i think the song topics are pretty hackneyed, but those are the kinds of topics (girl meets boy, love, blahblah) that 14 year old girls write songs about. they are hackneyed to us because we're older and want more to a song than that. she's wholesome. so what? i think she's got a good head on her shoulders, and she's not talentless (though i did hear bad things about that stevie nicks duet. didn't see it myself). i'll take a taylor swift over a Ke$ha ANYDAY.

if you can stomach listening to the whole song:


jesus h. christ that song SUCKS. the only redeemable part is the faux yodeling.

what really depresses me is that her myspace lists all these greats acts as "influences" but none of them show in her work. anyway, she still bores the hell out of me.


Mary said...

I agree about that, Naira. I think the Night Porter has that sort of debauched Weimar thing which admittedly people have been ripping off excessively for many years, but looking at the stills of Love Game they do seem quite "inspired" by that. I guess Lady Gaga really fits into this post-modern or whatever that means thing where everything is devoid of meaning and simply the sum of their stylish references.

Julia, as for Taylor Swift, I'm not saying she is devoid of talent. Obviously she is a successful pop songwriter and it is admittedly impressive at her age and whatnot, and sure she is preferable to various tartlets/Key$ha who, hopefully, fame will be fleeting for. (Oh man, that video was such a trainwreck.)

But I'm not going to pretend I like her because she writes her own sings and isn't whoring it up, because her oeuvre is totally boring to me, and I don't imagine I would have liked her as a Bowie-obsessed teen either (maybe as a tween though?), as I don't find her relatable at all personally.

She is wholesome at the expense of others not being wholesome (ie, all her songs about boys liking whores instead of non-slutty her who is really deserving.) But overall, I see her as a Mandy Moore type. I feel like I'm not supposed to hate her because she's not awful and isn't a terrible role model and played acoustic guitar on stage, but I find her totally boring and am sick of looking at her face.

Gaby said...

Open your hearts to Lady Gaga, everybody! People are so nervous about whether or not they should like Lady Gaga, like it is voting in the presidential primaries or something. But it is not! She is an interesting cartoon character on the public stage, but this is not a major and fraught decision to make, whether or not you enjoy a Billboard Top 40 artist (this is not directed at you, Mary, this is directed at THE WORLD). And yes, I know I am someone who wants to talk for six hours about pro-choice politics on Degrassi, but I don't know, this "Do I or don't I love Lady Gaga?" shit is just kind of getting out of control.

Zoe Roller said...

okay, i respect anyone who will go out in public looking like those terrifying goat-mermaids from the cremaster cycle/a tranny village people impersonator with a horrible skin disease: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2010/02/11/2010-02-11_lady_gaga_wears_hundreds_of_pearls_glued_to_her_body_to_perform_new_song_future_.html

Mary said...

Yeah, Gaby is right! Who are we to criticize someone who is gluing pearls to her face?

Gaby said...

I mean, yes, it is true that I am right.