Monthly Archives: February 2011

“Born This Way” Video: Mission Accomplished

Lady Gaga’s videos are often quite good. “Bad Romance” was undeniably one of the finest pop videos of the last ten years, and “Poker Face” and “Just Dance” are also quality clips. (On the other hand, I wasn’t too impressed by the self-indulgent “Telephone” or “Paparazzi,” and “Alejandro” left me cold.)

I just arrived home from college, and after being greeted by the much more exciting news that Britney Spears’ second single (presumably “Till the World Ends”) is going to drop next week — three weeks in advance of the album — I went to the “Born This Way” video.

I can only hope that Lady Gaga’s ambition was to look like death incarnate in this video, because she looks like a Holocaust victim. It doesn’t quite match her stated goals in crafting the video, which were, as is typical for her, delusional:

“It’s the story about the birth of a new race,” the pop star told DJ Greg James. “A race that bears no prejudice and a race that’s primary sort of ambition in life is to inspire unity and togetherness.”

Um, right. Good luck with that. Anyway — I’m going to disregard the laughably self-indulgent first two minutes and just discuss the section that accompanies the actual song.

Like Britney Spears nowadays, Lady Gaga cannot keep up with her dancers, so like the “Hold It Against Me” video, “Born This Way” is awash in provocative imagery. Lady Gaga is not beautiful, so the gimmickry is doubly important in her videos. Fortunately for her, the gimmickry tends to work: it is arresting and definitely evokes the feelings of uneasiness she’s aiming for — and will surely whip up a new storm of controversy.

Yet, it feels manufactured; like the “Telephone” video, it feels specifically crafted to whip up headlines. Any artistic value found in the video is necessarily subordinated to the shock-value stunts. While this has its utility, Lady Gaga’s career increasingly feels like it’s a successive set of attempts to one-up herself: “What will she do next?” the public asks: She dresses in meat! She encases herself in an egg! Now she starves herself and dresses up like a corpse! (If Lady Gaga really wanted to shock the world, she’d dance in a white t-shirt and blue jeans.) It’s possible to push the envelope and still put together something cohesive (see: Britney Spears’ 2001 VMA performance), but Lady Gaga’s career is degenerating into a series of stunts. This obviously keeps her relevant, but it makes her status as a potential future icon troubling. Behind the stunts, there’s no ‘there’ there: the song is just not very good. The production is dated, the melody is plagiarized, and the lyrics are trite — which was all reflected in the mixed reviews, most of which focused on the “Express Yourself” controversy. (Not a good way to roll out the “anthem for our generation.”)

Honestly, what is there to say? How can I even begin review this video? It accomplished its purpose: people will be talking about Lady Gaga for another week. She remains in the spotlight. The artistic merits of the video are a secondary concern. She pulled another stunt, and it worked. I hope she’s comfortable with the cost of that.

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Lady Gaga Is Not Weird, and Neither Are Little Monsters

Every once in a while, I get a commenter here who tells me that if only I understood what Lady Gaga did for them, and if only I could relate to what she means to the freaks and misfits of the world, I’d understand what being a ‘Little Monster’ is all about.

Forgive me, Monsters, if such sentiments piss me off more than they enlighten me. Because here’s a little surprise for you: I have felt alienated and isolated practically since the day I was born. Virtually everyone who knows me considers me among the oddest people they’ve come across; there’s not a person alive who couldn’t call me eccentric. I don’t get along with institutions, I’m very bad at following conventions, and I’ve never gotten on well with most of my peers. I was practically friendless in middle school, and high school introduced me to only a precious few friends — none of whom I really feel like I strongly related to. College has been similarly disappointing, for me. There’s not a lot of warmth or intimacy in my life, I don’t find any joy in fulfilling societal duties (college/work), and I don’t have many people with whom I can share my love of ideas. I constantly wish that I could just fly away to an island somewhere and live a contemplative life with someone I love — whoever and wherever he may be. I just don’t fucking fit in, I never have, and I don’t anticipate that I ever will.

Hence, it is beyond insulting to me to be told that I clearly cannot appreciate the role of the outcast, and that if only I were able to relate to the alienated and eccentric, I’d understand why Lady Gaga appealed to people. In fact, having grown up as such an eccentric loner — which is certainly something I continue to consider myself — I am doubly baffled as to why anyone who proclaims himself such would identify with Lady Gaga. She is undoubtedly the most popular woman in the world right now; she is as far away from being an underdog as one can be. She became famous for singing about booze, penises, and sippin’ on bub at the club with Beyonce, and there really isn’t any evidence that she was ever considered weird or freakish until she became famous and starting parading around in meat dresses for media attention. Why in hell should I relate to this? What is the message? “Be weird, but only when you have a massive cult following!”

To shoot down an inevitable objection from commenters with no skill in logic: my point here is not that my favorites — Britney Spears and Justin Bieber — better relate to the outcast. None of them dobut Lady Gaga is the only one being marketed as a champion of freaks. It is beyond absurd. Her music is as conventional and formulaic as it comes. There’s nothing wrong with this; she tends to make glorious pop music: as I continue to reiterate, the problem with her is the disconnect between perception and reality. I love Britney and Bieber because there is no such disconnect: they are marketed exactly as they really are. As a commenter pointed out when someone compared Britney and Gaga to two different varieties of fast-food: that’s all well and good, but Lady Gaga is being marketed as a gourmet delicacy when she’s really just another Big Mac. Big Macs are tasty — but they are not delicacies.

Similarly, Lady Gaga makes great pop music. But she does not relate to outcasts. She is not a champion of underdogs, freaks, and misfits. If some kid happened to buy into the act and found their life turned around because of it, then that’s lovely. But they were saved by a marketing gimmick, not by a true champion of eccentric misfits.

Most importantly, the truly eccentric among us don’t want a label like ‘Little Monster’; we really are alienated from society and from our peers; we don’t just long for a little clique of our own. The Little Monsters seem to be a group of angsty kids who were upset that they never fit in. The truly weird among us don’t want to fit in with the crowd, and it’s beyond insulting to be told that we are the ones who don’t understand what it’s like to not fit in. Conformity masquerading as eccentricity is ridiculously absurd. The Little Monsters are like the kid from South Park: “I want to be different — like those guys, over there!” I’ll continue to chart my life path on my own terms while the Monster Cult punches itself out, thank you.

A Real Example of Lady Gaga Merchandise

This is a sticker set from the official Lady Gaga merchandise shop.

Are there any non-Monsters left denying that Lady Gaga’s exploitative, marketing-based attitude toward gay people is clear as day? Wake up, people! Christ.

PS — I’m not dead. Just been AWOL.

Justin Bieber: “People Say It’s Artistic…I’m Like…You’re An Egg”

Bow to Godstin Biebsus, my favorite male pop artist right now. When asked about Lady Gaga’s egg outfit, he remarked: “People say it’s artistic and stuff. I’m just like…you’re an egg.”

For this alone, he is forgiven for his imprudent comments to Rolling Stone about abortion and health care (issues that the journalist in question had no business asking him in the first place):

He also remarked that he told Gaga to back it up a second when she attempted to hug him while wearing her infamous meat dress.

Coupled with his shout-out to Britney Spears (“his girl”!) on his Twitter, yesterday was a wonderful day for Biebsus Christ!

Thanks to commenter Ducky for reminding me to post this!

Madonna Rep: What Gaga E-Mail?

Although Lady Gaga told Jay Leno the other night that Madonna sent her an e-mail confirming that she gave Express Yourself (Remix) Born This Way her blessings, a rep for Madonna confirms that no such e-mail exists:

Earlier this week, the singer told Jay Leno that the Material Girl approved her new single, which some critics called a rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” “I got an e-mail from her people and her, sending me their love and complete support on behalf of the single and if the queen says it shall be, then it shall be,” Gaga said.

But Madonna’s rep has told CNN’s Headline News Entertainment that she is unaware of any email that Madonna has sent.

Um…awkward.

In truth, Madonna said all that she needed to say by uploading an old performance of “Express Yourself” to her YouTube account a few days ago. What a bad bitch!

“Born This Way” to Open at #1; Smashes Records

Well, there you have it. In just three days, “Born This Way” registered over 450,000 downloads, smashing Britney Spears’ record (again) and is on-track to blast open Flo Rida and Ke$ha’s record for the biggest one-week sales tally. It will open at #1 on this week’s Billboard chart.

1) The song is still crap.

2) The fact that it’s the 1000th song to top the Hot 100 is an accident of time. It’s not an accomplishment of any sort, just a neat little number. It certainly has nothing to do with quality (or sales, although that record was broken on its own).

3) The question existing is: will this song have any longevity? The reception has been lukewarm and radio seems to be playing it simply because it’s Lady Gaga. Let’s see how it’s holding up in four weeks. Even with the Gaga Machine bulldozing everything in its path, the song’s mediocrity is apparent for everyone to hear.

That being said, this is what promotion will do. This era is shaping up more to be her Oops!…I Did It Again, not her Echo. And sane people will continue to wring their hands together.

Ahem…

Lady Gaga must have borrowed some of Whitney Houston’s coke before accepting her Scammy award for Best Pop Vocal Album. Upon receiving it, she thanked Whitney Houston for being her inspiration in the ten minutes it took her to write “Born This Way.”

The rest of us think that she probably had someone else in mind…

Lady Gaga’s Shockingly Ordinary Grammy Performance

If Britney Spears skipped the Grammys because she was worried that the Gaga hype would overshadow her comeback as a dancer, then she was probably throwing her bowl of popcorn at the TV screen upon witnessing the pod queen’s exceedingly ordinary performance.

Gaga’s mediocre dancing is her weakest point as a performer, so it was a little shocking to see her put all of her, ahem, eggs in that basket. It looked a tad sloppy, and with the only aspect of the performance coming close to being out-of-the-ordinary having been something she’d already done — a piano interlude — what are we left with? Besides the grand entrance, it was just a typical pop diva performance. Nothing remotely resembling anything iconic or showstopping. Yawn. The crowd’s reaction was standard — Gaga did not receive a standing ovation, which probably ruffled her feathers (Cee-Lo’s feathers?) a bit — so, what are we left with? It was a letdown, plain and simple.

Check Out Britney’s Grammy Outfit!

LOLLLLLLLLLLLL

 

Official Born This Way Cover Prediction

Tonight, I officially predict that Gaga will shock the world by featuring as the cover of her “Born This Way” album…a picture of her wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.

That is all.