Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Bad Romance with Lady Gaga

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.


kate gabrielle said...

Have to admit.. I like Bad Romance too. It's actually the only Lady Gaga song I've listened to, but I do have it in my itunes and it gets played frequently :)

I used to like Britney Spears, but I'm hoping the fact that I was 11 at the time will be a good alibi for that mistake! ;-D

Raquelle said...

I love Lady Gaga. And what's with all this embarassment. You can like who you like. Screw what other people think. I have Lady Gaga songs on my iPod and I'm not afraid to show it. And my grad school just did one of those flash mob things with various Lady Gaga songs.

I like how innovative Lady Gaga is with her fashion and her videos. But I have to say, she is a reincarnation of Madonna. She's basically Madonna if Madonna started her career now instead of in the 1980s. So I find it interesting that you dislike Madonna but like Lady Gaga! :-)

Mercurie said...

Kate, when I was 11, I actually liked Foreigner. Let's say I don't now!

Raquelle, I'm not so sure Gaga is a reincarnation of Madonna. Theoretically, given her age Madonna should have felt the influence of Queen, David Bowie, and the Glam Rock generation more than Gaga (who wasn't even born when they started), not to mention the synthpop bands contemporary to her. She apparently didn't feel that influence, at least early in her career. I seem to recall in the Nineties Madonna actually did a synthpop album that had songs I actually liked! At any rate, I see Madonna as more disco/dance oriented (Donna Summer, LaBelle, KC and the Sunshine Band, Michael Jackson) while Gaga is more Glam and techno oriented (Queen, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Moby). I think the two are similar in that they both make dance music (albeit different genres) and they both revolt against standard fashion (although Gaga has better fashion sense IMHO), but that's where the similarity ends for me!