Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Face Of A Monster

I’m sure I am not the only one who sat in front of the TV in the summer of 2008/2009 and saw the Just Dance video thinking, ‘oh, okay’. The song was fun and all, but I was of the impression that it would probably be a one-hit-wonder and the last we’d hear of this Gaga lady. I, like many other MTV enthusiasts, was terribly wrong.
Then Pokerface came out, and again I’m not the only one who thought WTF when I heard the ‘muh-muh-muh-muh’ and ‘puh-puh-puh-pokerface’ hooks for the first time. I, like many others, thought it gut-wrenchingly annoying at first, not to mention taken aback by how raunchy and, well, kinda odd, the music video was. But, admittedly, the song was quite catchy and I found myself dancing like a fool whenever it played on Long or Edward Street.
That was the beginning of the meteoric rise (weak term) of the Gaga phenomenon. We all became enthralled by her crazy antics; like never wearing pants, tying her hair (or wig) in a bow, her cheesy choreography and her dodgy lyrics (if it’s love if it ain’t rough it isn’t fun; I wanna take a ride on your disco stick). But we still weren’t completely sold on her.
That changed when Paparazzi was released. To this day it is still my favourite Gaga track. It was complimented by a wonderfully colourful music video and a much unexpected performance at the 2009 MTV something-or-other Awards. It was a bloody mess, quite literally, but it made us all sit up and take notice. That, coupled with the half-dozen costume (not wardrobe) changes during the ceremony, made me start to question: is this girl being for real? Suddenly she went from being the new kid on the block to being a legend. And a freak. The “it”question changed from ‘have you seen this Gaga girl?’ to ‘what is she going to do next?’ Alas, she was still immensely intriguing. I was one of those who were waiting with bated breath for the next Gaga epic.
Then came Bad Romance, the lead single of The Fame Monster EP, and her biggest hit ever. The song was probably her catchiest yet, the video was the most provocative and controversial of the decade, with a Thriller-esque dance routine and imagery that was out of this world. This too, sadly, was when the music started singing back-up to the celebrity, and in my opinion was also the peak of her astronomical career.
Since then, while her celebrity has sky-rocketed, fuelled by dresses made of meat and captivating music videos with Beyoncé, her music has become increasingly generic and, well, boring. She’d effectively managed to fool the whole world into believing that she was an innovative musician of epic proportions but that is not true. Let me elaborate:
You can’t churn out the same emotionless four-chord songs on the same Euro-pop house beats with the same repetitive hooks and be called an artist. That shit gets boring and does so fast. I appreciate Speechless, though. That was beautiful. Telephone was fun and all, and it was cool seeing Bey dance like a white girl, and Alejandro was dodgy on every level, but both those songs gained public interest because of their videos and not because of their music.
I was one of those who heard Gaga sing the chorus of Born This Way when she accepted her award at the VMAs, and from the little we all had heard, I was expecting a second Speechless. The melody and execution called for a ballad, and when she promised that the BTW album would be the most epic of the decade, I was almost certain that it would be a ballad. I was one who contributed to the hype surrounding the song’s release and I was also one of the millions who sat back disappointed to hear a song that I had heard before. I had heard it in Alejandro, Telephone, Bad Romance, Paparazzi and Pokerface, as well as a number of Madonna hits from the 80s. Many who concurred that the song did not live up to the hype then commended the song for its message of empowerment, tolerance and acceptance, but I could hardly be fooled. The imagery that complimented the song (or rather that the song complimented) told a very different story. How could a heterosexual, white and privileged woman be the champion of the homosexuals, ethnic minorities of America and the poor? We have Ellen De Generes, Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey in those respective roles already. Also, I can’t see how protrusions on your temple, cheeks and shoulders can possibly promote the idea of being proud of the skin you were born in. Loopholes, Gaga…
News is that the Born This Way LP debuted on the Billboard 200 albums chart at number one, with sales of 1,1 million. That’s a very impressive feat, especially in this very digital age, but also not unexpected, judging by the hype the preceded the album’s release. I haven’t downloaded the album off DC++ yet (you can judge me if you want, but frankly, I wouldn’t pay for the album even if I had the money anyways) but from the reviews I’ve read, it falls terribly short of the claim of epicness that Gaga had implied. I think that even she knew it would when she heard Adele’s 21 for the first time. Usher’s Confessions debuted at number one by the same number of sales 8 years prior. Confessions is probably the best RnB album released in the past 15 years. The point I’m trying to make is that had Gaga not worn a dress made of meat and duct tape over her nipples, the music itself would not have sold a million copies in a week. Bitch please, remove the smoke and mirrors and the crazy wigs and you ain’t shit.
But alas, she has caused a revolution. I’ve heard more euro-pop in the last two years from the most unexpected artists (Busta Rhymes, Christina Aguilera) than I had in my life prior the summer of 2008/2009. Despite what I’ve said, I still find myself singing along to Born This Way anyways. That was probably her intention all along. Our favourite crazy white chick seems to be here to stay.

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