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Lady GaGa Ends Her Incubation Period

Could it drop at any other time in history? A country underwent a revolution, people born in the United States are being told they aren’t true citizens, others are being denied marriage rights, and many are dying because of health care stipulations. Though she didn’t foresee these problems, and some of them were going on when she wrote her album, Lady GaGa has set a decisive tone for her next album with her first single, “Born This Way.”

Lady GaGa at the 2011 Grammys
Lady GaGa at the 2011 Grammys

As a devoted fan (who isn’t afraid to look at her with a very critical eye) I always knew she would show her true colors once she got more creative power, but I never knew it would be quite like this. Born This Way is clearly a dance song, but it’s not exactly for the casual millennium generation. It’s the best of disco, pulling from catchy tunes you can sing along to, and it’s fun. Before hearing it I kept coming across comparisons to Madonna: the same old songs people like to thrust on her: Vogue and Express Yourself. GaGa has gotten compared to Madonna a lot during her four-year run, but no one is noticing just how many artists are influencing this woman. When I first laid my ears on her newest single, all I could hear was Prince: specifically 1999 and I Would Die 4 U. GaGa has said herself how deeply influenced she is by Prince and here it shows.

When it came out last Friday on iTunes, Born This Way shot to the number one slot in only three hours and sixteen minutes on in twenty-two countries, breaking a new world record: Born This Way is the fastest downloaded number one single in iTunes history. People were sitting at their keyboards hungry for that new GaGa single, pulled in from all the hints she’d been dropping since last summer.

Okay so let’s get real here: I will admit the song is not Earth-shattering. And we’ve got to compare it to her biggest hit to date–Bad Romance. Frankly there is no comparison. I really can’t imagine some uniform dance that would easily blend into the music that will have countless young adults posting on YouTube. I can imagine the video to a bit of an extent (a clear sci-fi theme), but I don’t believe it will be as mind melding as Alejandro. Honestly in GaGa terms it’s a little subpar. It’s too meta for a broad audience. But I don’t know if that’s who she’s writing for this time. The Fame was her chance to grab us–to get a crowd–now Born This Way will be her chance to tell us what she has to say. It may not have the oomph of having sex with your boyfriend while thinking of that cute girl in the bar might have, but hey, this is not what she is after, and it wasn’t what she was after in the first place. If you listen to her songs pre-GaGa, it’s clear that Stefani Germanotta wanted to write music with a real message. No wonder she wanted everyone to know that pop music wasn’t shallow. Because some day her music wouldn’t be shallow.

I settled down on Sunday night to watch the Grammys. Particularly excited about her entrance to see what she would be wearing. When I saw her entrance I nearly cracked up. Lady GaGa was carried by ridiculous, over-acting models in a green and blueish egg, and her stylist quickly explained she must incubate in for a certain amount of time before the performance (logically). It’s really great her team is concerned with the state of her health. The unfortunate fact that a woman must always compose herself if she wishes to be respected in the art world, even by other women, will never cease to amaze me.

But that’s another article for another time.

By the time her performance came around GaGa was birthed, and it had turned into a spaceship of some sort. She revealed herself and emerged looking like a young Nina Hagen, with a performance that had about the production value of the same. But did it really matter? She’s doing it her way now. And even if her sales go down, even if she goes the way many women of the weird go, I don’t think this will phase her in the least. In her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper GaGa wholly admitted she knows how much people want her to fail. “Everybody wants to see the decay of the superstar. They want to see me fail. They want to see me fall on stage. They want to see me vomiting out of a night club. Isn’t that the age we live in? That we want to see people who have it all lose it all?” Indeed that is the age we live in, and they’re feasting right now, honey.

7 replies on “Lady GaGa Ends Her Incubation Period”

I don’t think that comparing “Born This Way” to “Express Yourself” is just rehashing old complaints–the melodies are practically identical. I was literally singing the lyrics to “Express Yourself” while she was performing last night, and they fit virtually perfectly.

However, as long as Gaga is open about the fact that Madonna is one of her many inspirations, I don’t think there’s any problem with that–and as far as I know, she has always been clear that she has tons of pop muses. I think she’s certainly smart enough to not try to hide that she uses the wider pop culture to inspire her music (although I was disappointed today when one of her choreographers said on CNN that there was no relation between the two songs).

I have a love/hate with Gaga. When I first heard her, she was in the Ziggy Stardust period, with the lightning bolt on one side of her face and all that Bowie influence. I heard “Just Dance”, which I still maintain is a pretty awful song. So that, combined with what I felt was her ripping off Bowie’s style/image, just soured me on her. And it took a long time for me to like her. It wasn’t until I heard “Paparazzi” (which is still my fave to this day) that I began to like her. I realized that the woman can sing like a mofo, and she can write, and she’s clearly very talented, focused and confident. And I like that about her. I went through a period of about a year where I couldn’t get enough of Gaga. Her politics, her fashion, her music.

Now I’m going back into a ‘meh’ face. I haven’t been impressed with some of the things she’s said in the media. She’s very blase about drug usage, and as an adult liberal person I don’t mind that, but my Mommy alter ego is mindful that she has a lot of young fans that will take what she says to heart. And I find it irresponsible (though her interview with Anderson Cooper last night and her explanations about drugs made me somewhat forgive her. I also thought the meat dress thing was just over the top and as a vegetarian I found it offensive. All of this stuff is totally personal, opinions based on who I am as a person and how I react to her various shenanigans.

So yeah, I love her music, or most of it, and I find her endlessly entertaining, but I also think she’s gotten to the point where the dramatics are a bit much. I get it, it’s all performance art, this is all for her ‘craft’, but I feel like she will crash and burn hard if she doesn’t have some serious depth to back up all that ‘art’. I suppose the fact that I find her thought-provoking enough to write several paragraphs on her is proof enough that she’s a force to be reckoned with.

I have some issues with her too–and I was not a fan of her until Paparazzi (but good lord am I a fan now!) When I first saw her in Poker Face I was like, what is she doing??

I follow her pretty closely, so while I’m a big fan, I also know the questionable stuff she does, and sometimes I feel like I’m the only fan who questions her.

I don’t expect Born This Way to be some big explosion, but I think she’s going to say what she wants to say, whether people are buying it or not. Kelis did it and lost her record label.

I don’t think she’ll go the way of Britney, but she may fade out like many stars do.

I think we need time to digest and adjust to this new song and album.

From my perspective, the previous two albums were so great (the latter being insane) because we were learning who this woman is. And when you go from “Huh, you don’t know why your shirt’s inside out?” (bottom rung) to “OMG, Bad Romance is intense, so infectious” (seriously up there) the leap can be a whirlwind. And you almost expect the next leap to be just as big. But, we’re understanding Lady Gaga now, what she cares about, what she’s influenced by (hello, Whitney!) and what creative power she has. We’ve got the basics down. Now it’s time to fill in the details.
It’s not as intense and euphoric as it once was but it’s a nice tingly feeling all the same. If we feed this feeling, it will last. If we ignore it, then we’re stuck waiting for another pop monster to come out. And frankly, I really like Lady Gage. Girl has actual musical talent.

And on a broader note, pop and dance has fed off the pop and dance before it for years. Even Madonna has influences. Whether she’s going to tell us about them or not, we can still figure it out. (But I have to fully respect someone who uses Ace of Base as an influence. They were the best thing my 6th grade ears had ever heard. Love.)

Here’s my issue — I want to love Gaga. In a way, I do love Gaga. I love the spectacle, I love her general philosophy… but the music does not do it for me. I agree with you, “Bad Romance” is an amazing song, one of the best pop songs of the last decade. The rest though? Meh. I heard “Born This Way” for the first time last night and was instantly singing the chorus of Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” This makes me sad.

I was so hoping that this new album would be like “Bad Romance,” but even better. Please, Gaga. I think you’re awesome. But the music has to live up to the woman herself.

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