Okay, I hated Madonna. I never liked Beyonce. I could not stand Britney Spears. Over the years I have concluded that most female pop singers are absolute rubbish. Some of them may be nice to look at (and Madonna wasn't even that), but they have nothing to offer musically. Why is it then, in the last years of the first decade of the 21st Century, I have found a new guilty pleasure? That's right. I must confess. I listen to Lady Gaga.
Okay, let's face it, she is different from most female pop stars of late. Madonna seemed to be performing a resurrected version of disco when she started out. Britney Spears drew upon pop stars like Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson. In contrast, Lady Gaga draws heavily on glam rock, particularly Queen (she takes her stage name from their song "Radio Gaga") and David Bowie. Her music also shows traces of German house techno music and Eighties synthpop. Indeed, her sound reminds me more of The Pet Shop Boys and The Human League than Janet or Michael Jackson.
Of course, my comparison to the synthpop groups of the Eighties points to another way Lady Gaga differs from Madonna, Britney, and their ilk. The lyrics of her songs actually have an edge to then. Let's face it, "Bad Romance" basically offers up a scenario in which the singer would prefer a bad romance to merely being friends with a guy (even citing three different Alfred Hitchcock movies in the process). "Paparazzi" seems to be about stalking (in the process condemning the paparazzi as, well, stalkers) and veneers of stardom. Okay, "LoveGame" seems to be more about sex and dancing, but then its musical style owes more to The Pet Shop Boys than Donna Summer. I have to admit. Even the songs I don't like by Lady Gaga can be pretty sophisticated. I don't like "Telephone," but it has a pretty complex idea behind. As I see it, the song is about a performer who continues performing rather than talking to her boyfriend on the telephone. The same sophistication can be even be seen in "Poker Face," a song I despise (although I like the card game innuendoes).
Now don't get me wrong. I am not going to rush out and buy every Lady Gaga CD out there. I am not going to say that she is the greatest artist of all time or even one of my favourites. What I am going to say is that, while I am a bit embarrassed to say it, I actually do like quite a few of Lady Gaga's songs. Unlike most previous female pop singers, she actually appears to have some talent. While I could never take pleasure in anything Madonna or Britney did in their early days, I must confess that some of Lady Gaga's are a guilty pleasure of mine.