Pop provocateur, Lady Gaga, covers the latest issue of NME magazine in a flurry of visually un-appealing photos and (her now trademark) ludicrous, self-aggrandizing quotes.
One of the latest completely predictable gems to fall from the mouth of Gaga is, “I’m not going to start churning out what you’d expect. If you want me to be a manufactured act, you can fuck off.” This is one of the lies that Gaga intends to repeat again and again in order for it to, in her own words, ‘become truth’. In reality, Gaga is a perfect example of a manufactured pop star. We are no longer living in the age of the icon and every minute detail of the former lives of the superstars is available for you to peruse on every talk show, every magazine rack and every gossip website. It appears that Lady Gaga was born a different way. The truth is Stefani Germanotta was a middle-class Manhattanite who wanted to be famous. We know she was in the background of the Sopranos, on an MTV reality show and performed as a very mediocre singer-songwriter. Today she is arguably the most famous woman on the planet but nary a single step of her rise was organic or natural. After gaining some industry contacts, Stefani was given a new sound, a new image and a new name. The first step on her road to fame was to change everything she was.
She goes on to say, “if you fucking rip my hairbow and my wig off my fucking head, my shoes, my bra, every single thing on my body, and you throw me on a piano with a microphone, I will fucking make you cry.” Prove it. We’ve seen the young Stefani playing her early self-penned piano tracks in a New York club when nobody was listening. The tracks are a schoolgirl’s attempt to emulate Fiona Apple or Tori Amos; they were far from forcing us to shed tears. Following Stefani’s metamorphosis into Lady Gaga she has released only three ballads; Again Again, Brown Eyes and Speechless. None of which were singles, all of which were laughable. The tracks are clunky, awkward and abrasive and Gaga’s voice barely hints at emotion. Gaga can provide dance floor entertainment, that’s a fact, but we’ve yet to hear anything with feeling.
The article comes in the wake of the rush release of her new single, Judas, to iTunes. While the track is insanely infectious, it’s also undeniably derivative. The song is a less developed Bad Romance; all the bells and whistles but somehow lacking the punch. We have overpowering beats, meaningless vocal chants (“Jud-ah, Jud-Gaga”) and a half-rapped middle 8 but it all amounts to very little. Where as Bad Romance sounds like a progressive re-imaging of Pokerface, Judas sounds like pop-culture pastiche. It’s a song about a romance that, well, has gone bad, but also features a ham-fisted attempt to add a religious element. Gaga may see using catholic imagery in her art as provocative or shocking but it lacks any of the social commentary we’ve seen from that other blonde Italian-American pop superstar. Following on from The Fame Monster, an EP brimming with star potential, we get the feeling that Lady Gaga is not the future of pop culture as we had once thought, but rather a summary of all that has gone before her. We have popstars that promise pure fun, ones that offer up their hearts and a few that do both, but Gaga, in the end, does neither. She seems far more concerned with announcing that she is a pop music visionary than actually showing us how she is one.
Don’t feed us shit and tell us it’s sugar. Embrace the artifice that is your entire persona and entertain us with it.