Dear Lady Gaga,
From the first awesome pop track to the latest over-produced bullshit, you’ve managed to go from Lady Gaga to Lady Garbage. We all know that in the day of sexplicity, shock value and digital enhanced productions, pop artists have to shout through their lungs and express themselves through everything else, be it through their videos or costumes. But you have raised a bar that only you can break – and I mean this in a very appalling way. Now my comments may raise some eyebrows or even leave a bad taste in some mouths, but an opinion counts and as a betrayed fan and music lover, I have a few questions.
Pop for years has been a genre questioned by lovers of rock, metal and alternative styles. Popular music is mass produced, commercial and needs half a brain to be enjoyed. Just follow a good beat, bombard it with a racy video and throw in a few shocking appearances. Boom! Platinum. But pop is also an easy and to-the-point medium, perfect for sending a simple message across. And most often the idea is a fun one. And that’s what Just Dance was. Sticking purely to a party theme, it was filled with beats and sounds that made one get up and dance. So did some other tracks from your first album, like Disco Heaven, Beautiful Dirty Rich and Poker Face. You also touched upon retro-sounding and Madonna-esque compositions of Eh Eh (Nothing Else I can Say) and Alejandro. All of these songs were fun and worked fine with a global audience.
From there to the latest album, you landed up putting together tracks beginning with Born This Way and Judas with an over-passionate and a little nauseously repetitive gay connotation in the lyrics. Yes, we get it and we applaud the sentiment, but come on. Easy there. It’s okay to create music with sentiments, but EVERY song!? Thoda zyada ho gaya na… Blend, Taste aur Quality ka kya? Besides, with the digital sound ‘master’bation, your most wonderful qualities are overshadowed.
I always believed that you had two strengths: your vocals and the memorable melody build up. Both were displayed in Speechless and the acoustic covers of your own tracks. But suddenly with the new album, Born This Way, all that took second row after the overpowering digital enhancements and visual trickery. A big gamble for any musician, ranging from Madonna to Alanis, to take. Some made it, the others didn’t. I stopped paying attention but kept being haunted by everything you were doing.
Your first big hit Just Dance featured you in a disco, sequined baggy top and chaddis, with a space-aged shaded box fringe. From there you progressed to a leotard and face-art like Ziggy Stardust in the Poker Face phase. The look in Eh Eh (Nothing I Can Say) was bright and Italian summer holiday inspired whereas Paparazzi was your most balanced avant grade display of fashion. Music and fashion always went hand in hand as they both expressed personalities in more than just words. Even your appearances were shocking but edible, such as the MTV bloodbath performance that was very theatrically tasteful.
Till the infamous appearance in the meat dress, which indeed outdid Bjork’s swan dress. When Madonna appeared in the Jean Paul Gaultier conical bra, it was a statement of women taking control of their own sexuality. You in a conical bra with fire sparking out of your girls seemed shocking for the sake of it. While Madonna flashed the audience, you puked ‘fashion’ on our faces. Everybody soaked it in and well… sex sells. Every move was a shocker but somehow defended by a existentialist commentary of your love for expression and how you are “different.”
Paparazzi premiered in a 9 min video with a storyline. A rich celebrity and her limelight hungry lover and her taste for revenge. The video was well-rounded with everything: a catchy tune, graphic wardrobe and lush art-directed setting. Bad Romance pushed the envelope but still managing to stay on the cliff, thanks to the space-meets-clinical feel of the video to the flashy McQueen lobster shoes. Fashion and video graphics seemed to come together to present song in a light that was fitting and memorable by itself.
And then there was the Alejandro video with shades of La Isla Bonita in the track. The video was random and completely made as a different entity. Trying and sort of managing to overplay Madonna’s love for blasphemy and gay boys, you did outdo Madge in every way. Madge danced explicitly in front of the crucifix, Gaga swallowed it in Judas. Madge vogues with gay boys, you stripped them close to nude and danced with them. That flagged off phase 2 of Gaga videos, high on shock, sex and forced gay imagery that made a self-respecting gay man sick to his stomach.
I loved you, and my fury with your obsession with shocking the world just goes to prove that love. Writing songs and melodies is a trick affair and you know the way around it all. So the OTT wardrobe and explicit visual contents just for its sake is dis-heartening to a fan like me. Recently I saw a video of you doing a duet with Tony Bennett, a jazzy number in a black widow lace gown and green hair. You hold a glass of wine and sing your lungs out. With shades of the troubled Amy Winehouse, it is a brilliant change in imagery and a direction I feel you should explore. Respectful of the genre and cautious with your PR strategies.
So Dear Gaga… I love your expression. Just don’t bombard me with visuals of your ‘motherhood’ and tales of you empathy towards us gay boys. Make music in its pure form like you first did. You have all the attention you need, now sing me a song.