Enough. Lady GaGa Rules.

14 Dec

The first time I came into contact with Lady GaGa was when she performed on American Idol. Actually, it was in the immediate aftermath of that performance, since I didn’t see the episode, just read about it.  And the whole time people were writing about GaGa this and GaGa that and how she was so crazy, and what’s the deal with GaGa and I had literally no idea who the eff they were talking about.

I was like, GaGa Gabor was there, or something? Where am I?  What time is it?  Why are these kids on my lawn? It was probably the most culturally out-of-touch I’ve felt in a while. Somehow I’d just… missed it.

No longer.  I think it’s safe to say that by now, everyone in the country knows who GaGa (neé Stefani Germanotta) is. She’s got three smash singles, a ton of Grammy nominations, has been co-writing and collaborating with all of the top pop artists in the world (including writing two of the best songs on Adam Lambert’s record), and her live show sounds like it is balls-to-the-wall insanely great.

But still, I hear so many people rag on her, or say that they’re ashamed to like her music, or imply that she is some sort of “guilty pleasure.”  And to these people, I say NO.  She is not a guilty pleasure, that phrase has been misused so much over the past five or so years that we have forgotten its meaning.  Flavor of Love is a guilty pleasure. Twilight is a guilty pleasure. Lady GaGa is a frigging actual artist, a kid who busted her ass in tiny clubs coming up and still busts it every day in service of a bona-fide goddamn artistic vision (and I must emphasize – HER bona-fide goddamn artistic vision).

She writes her own music and has mastered the crap out of  writing a pop hook. She lives her art in a fearlessly weird, sometimes damn ugly, always awesome way. She is so, so clearly just not some product of the LA Studio Machine, not an American Idol winner or a barbie-fied twanger from Nashville.

I’m not sure when, but somewhere along the line it just started to really bug me. People seemed so quick to rush to judgment because she’s so over-the-top, and probably because she’s a girl, and I felt like they completely ignored her real talent, drive, intelligence, vision, and self.

A few of my friends in NY were talking about how they played in a band with another singer who had a similar glam/disco thing going on, and a similar look, who was courted and ultimately rejected by a major label at about the same time that GaGa got signed to Interscope.  They seemed to be of the opinion that if the tides had been different, this singer could have been the next GaGa, that singers with big glasses who did disco beats were really that interchangeable. Respectfully, fellas, I gotta disagree. I don’t think that stars like Germanotta are ordained by studio heads, and I don’t think that they ever will be. They make themselves.

You may still feel hesitant, or like it is just easier to mock her than to take the time to learn why you should respect her. If that is the case, I urge you to read this critical New Yorker essay by Sasha Frere-Jones, and this quite supportive interview in the LA Times, and give it another thought.

I’m certainly not asking everyone to love her music. I’m just hoping that we can take a moment to put down our knee-jerk reactions and imagine what it would be like to be her, to really think about the strength of character and the fearlessness it would take to tackle The Fame Monster head on. To tackle it and, even if only for a fleeting moment, to win.

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5 Responses to “Enough. Lady GaGa Rules.”

  1. Vance December 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Actually, I was hesitant about her for a long while but yah, I basically realized she deserves to be on my Best of Music list for the year. She actually is the real deal, and has been one of the most entertaining people this year (also deserves to be on that list too, if not the top of that list).

  2. Jamie December 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    CAN I GET AN “AMEN”!?

    The show last night was pretty wild. I just wish she would have played more piano. But then again, I was there to see a SHOW, and by that I mean 10 foot long braids, dancers in full body suits and dentist chairs. Aw, yeah.

    • Kirk December 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

      Right?

      I should add to folks reading this that Jamie has a great write-up of last night’s show, along with some pretty hilarious pictures of the outfits the fans wore in her post in today’s SF Examiner.

  3. Dorothy December 14, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

    Thanks for writing this.
    It’s amazing how much controversy there is when a woman is “over the top” and free. Bjork went through the same thing. People still call her insane and refuse to acknowledge her talent.

  4. Piera March 3, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    i ave a whale of a time!!

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