Monday, February 14, 2011

With Eyeliner Smeared, I Say, "Leave Gaga Alone!"

Well, gang, I've heard Lady Gaga's new song, "Born This Way" and it's fabulous. Yes, if you pay too much attention to the lyrics, you might start to feel like you've hit upon an Afterschool Musical Special, but considering some of the rather negative songs that dominate the pop charts, I guess I shouldn't judge the Lady for that. And it's one catchy son of a bitch. It might actually inspire me to head back to the gym because I was not born with these love handles, my little monsters.

Of course, I'm well aware of the similarities between the new song and Madonna's "Express Yourself" (which has itself often been called a sped-up reboot of The Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself") with a bit of "Vogue" thrown in for good measure. But I've pretty
much had it with everyone just dismissing Gaga as a Madonna clone. Partly because, if we're just talking vocally, Gaga is 10 times the singer that Madonna ever was. Also, Gaga doesn't have disgusting Gollum arms (but who knows what will happen after a few more decades). But mainly this irritates me because I seem to remember Madonna ripping off everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Grace Jones. But because Madonna is an icon now, everyone is forced to look back at her career with reverence as if she changed the faces of fashion and music, when she did neither. She was certainly hugely influential, but that doesn't mean that anything she did was original—especially not where music is concerned.

Exhibit A: All dance music essentially sounds the same.
Exhibit B: The aformentioned Staple Singers melody-borrowing
Exhibit C: "Papa Don't Preach" vs. "Sugar Don't Bite"
Exhibit D: A songwriter named Aisha collected a shit-ton of evidence to prove that Madonna is a thief, some of which is weak, but some of which is pretty compelling.

I just can't grasp why everyone wants to harp on this when, if you turn on pop radio right now, you won't hear one song that you can't compare to something else...and Top 40 fans swallow it all down. But now they want to diss Gaga for wearing her influences on her sleeve or pointy shoulder pad or whatever the hell she's wearing. It doesn't really make sense. I mean, you barely heard a peep when Jason Derulo jacked the middle part of Gaga's "Just Dance" for his song "In My Head." And Ryan Tedder, whose songs all sound alike, has no problem saying that Gaga's new song is just a Madonna retread, but whined like a baby when Kelly Clarkson pointed out (rightly) that the song he gave her, "Already Gone" was just Beyonce's "Halo" with some subtle differences. It's all a little hypocritical, isn't it? But I guess everyone is going to pounce on Gaga because she's the big star of the moment. If she's still around in another 20 years, everyone will talk about her like she was a brilliant visionary and act like they never doubted her for a second.

Look, if you listen to pop or dance music, I hate to tell you, but it's pretty much all been done. And really, you probably don't listen to that kind of music for any deep meaning. At least I hope you don't. I sure don't. Even though I know that Gaga is actually trying to convey a message with this song, all I care about is that it has an awesome groove that will make cute gay boys take off their clothes and dance around in their underwear. And that is something that I can always get behind.


Brahm (alfred lives here) said...

Love Gaga. Love the song. Loved her performance at the Grammys. Think she is too damn skinny, but other than that is pretty close to perfection.

Is it like Express Yourself? Yep a whole lot, which I think you talk to really well.

Are the lyrics non-subtle? Yeppers, and I am all for gay equality, being gay and all. It's about the beat, people. I bought it on itunes and was bopping to it on the treadmill like crazy this weekend. The track rocks. Can;t wait for the album!

Coaster Punchman said...

I do love the Lady. And I agree there is no comparing her to Madonna. Whereas they both seem to enjoy "shocking" the public, Madonna did it as a whore (remember that awful "Sex" book?) whereas the Lady is, well, a bit more of a lady about it.

However, this new single of hers disappoints me. Although I agree that much of pop music has been "done" already, this new song is way too close to other songs to pretend that it contains a shred of originality.

Poker Face and Bad Romance do at least have originality in melody if nothing else. After all the hype about "Born This Way" I hoped for a bit more.

J.J. in L.A. said...

I'm not a fan of Madonna or Gaga. Actually, this is the first time I've heard her sing...and I'm not impressed.

People who need gimmicks (like cone-shaped boobs or a plastic egg) rely on them to hide the fact that they really don't have any real talent.

Freddie Mercury was WAY more talented. Yes, he was dramatic but he had the voice to back it up.

SkylersDad said...

I suppose by now there really can't be any original music left to write, much like there isn't an original movie plot left. Everything has been done, and done to death.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

It's like you said, nothing is original anymore. It's all been done. The only way you can be "original" now is if your style of music hasn't been around since the '80s. If it's more than ten or fifteen years old it's "original" which of course isn't original at all. Understand? Me neither. I quit.

Alice said...

NO KIDDING. i also hate the "if she had REAL talent she wouldn't need an egg/a gimmick/a stageshow/to be interesting in any way" auto-response. gimmicks / ridiculous costumes / exorbitant stageshows do not PRECLUDE talent. freddie mercury wore pretty ridic clothes for a dude back then, let's remember. i've heard her sing unplugged and i've seen her play piano. she can do both better than a whole SHIT TON of other musicians on the scene right now. she also knows how to put on a performance. why is it so hard to believe someone can do both of those things at the same time?

i'm not even that much of a gaga fan, when it comes down to it; i just hate the arguments used against her. they're far too easy and convenient.

Marie said...

I like Lady Gaga - she's got the musical chops that Madonna WISHED she had. People dismiss her because of her crazy outfits. Yeah, they are out there, but this woman can write, and sing, and PLAY!!!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

I like Gaga. Coming to the Grammies in a big egg? That's just rock star. We need more of that these days.

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

Look, if you listen to pop or dance music, I hate to tell you, but it's pretty much all been done.

Then can we just stop making this drivel?

cube said...

I'm with you regarding the unfounded criticism Gaga gets. I'm not thrilled with her latest single... I think she can do so much better, but hey, she is a songwriter, a musician, and a singer. Already, she's hands down better than Madonna.

Dale said...

If Madonna had never spoken, I would probably like her more than I do. I do like the music though Lady Gaga clearly has a lot more talent on all fronts. She even sounds like she has occasional thoughts of her own! Excellent. Everything's derivative of everything else though not always quite so blatantly in this single.

words...words...words... said...

Throughout this whole video I knew I knew this guy. I looked him up after, and turns out I recognized him from a very short-lived show called The Class.

And as terrible as this is, I want that silver lame jacket.

words...words...words... said...

Whoops. That last comment was meant to be on the Sam Harris video you linked to.

As for Gaga, I'm not really a fan, but I like this song. And I certainly expect that she has higher aspirations than to copy that hack Madonna.

As for the showmanship, well hell. What's wrong with that? Pop music is inherently silly, and trying to make people act like it's serious is kind of ridiculous. Whoever said it doesn't preclude talent is right. Unless Elton John, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, and countless others are just talentless con men trying to get by.


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