Gagamania Update: 08-18-09
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Editor, The Konformist
Part 237 of a series: Robalini's continuing fascination with Lady Gaga
This is what I've been saying since April, when I finally actually bothered to listen to Lady Gaga's The Fame. I heard the middle part of "Poker Face" on the radio, and the last time I had been so impressed by a hard rock band was when I heard Rage Against the Machine do "Bulls on Parade." Of course, this wasn't a hard rock band, it was a disco diva, and I immediately realised that a lot of people (including myself) were clearly not paying attention to something that was about to become way bigger than anyone seemed to realize.
Aug 12 2009
The Lady Gaga You Probably Don't Know: A Great Musician
By James Montgomery
Imagine, for a second, that Lady Gaga didn't dress like a member of wrestling team Demolition, pose for fashion spreads wearing nothing but the rings of Saturn around her head or give interviews dressed in the carcasses of Kermit the Frog. Imagine if she didn't speak her mind, delight in tweaking the media or treat her fame as one gigantic, Warholian art project. In other words, imagine if she were just another boring, bottle-blond, midriff-bearing pop star.
I know all that is pretty difficult to consider without any of the flair or the insanity or the nudity, Gaga just wouldn't be Gaga but if you somehow managed to strip away all the ephemera, what would you have left? Would Gaga still be interesting? Would she still have sold 1.3 million copies of The Fame here in the U.S., or have been nominated for nine MTV Video Music Awards? Would she be announced, in the same breath as Jay-Z no less, as a VMA performer?
We'll never know, of course. But while Gaga: The Pop-Art Project is what sells magazines (and albums), Gaga: The Pop Star is where the attention ought to lie. As paparazzi bait, she's pretty great, but as a musician, as a vessel and a muse, she's even better.
I only discovered this recently, when I finally got around to listening to her debut disc, The Fame, which was released almost exactly one year ago today (I've been busy). As a music critic, ignoring on one of '09's breakout hits is rather inexcusable, but I would feel much worse about it if I didn't suspect roughly 99 percent of the music-buying population of being guilty of the same thing: It seems we all know Lady Gaga, but we don't have any idea who she is as an artist.
So, I advise everyone to sit down and really listen to The Fame. Forget about the monster singles "Just Dance," "LoveGame," "Paparazzi" and "Poker Face" something which is pretty easy to do on the U.S. version of the album, which re-sequences them as the first four tracks, and just focus on the rest. What you're left with is 10 slickly produced, genre-mashing, joy-inducing, PMRC-infuriating pop/dance tracks, a standalone album in its own right.
"Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" is a breezy, vaguely Carribbean electro-pop gem, recalling Madonna's "La Isla Bonita," Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" and basically the entire Deborah Gibson/Tiffany canon (this is a good thing). "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich," struts on a wobbly bass punch that's reminiscent of the Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" and some cracking live drums, and "The Fame" is a super-charged, buzzing ode to the glamorous life.
"Money Honey" has Gaga vamping and showing off some serious pipes over a hornet's nest of electronics. "Boys Boys Boys" has her fantasizing about making out with a boy in retro sneakers at a Killers concert. "Brown Eyes" is a somber, stop-start power ballad, a lover's lament that seems out of step with everything you think you know about L.G., and "I Like It Rough" is a shimmery, whirring Jazzercise soundtrack that's probably one of one of my favorite tunes of the year (or last year, whatever). Oh, and album-closer "Summerboy" sounds like a Strokes song, only with Debbie Harry on vocals.
The point is, this is a great album. Gaga shines brightly, but so does the production work of RedOne and Martin Kierszenbaum, which flits between chrome-clean futurism and scratched, hazy retro, somehow managing to capture Gaga's NYC party past, present and (probably) future. It's an accomplished, sexy, funny and fun listen, a dazzling run through pop, funk, disco, rock and intelligent dance music (and not, you know, "Intelligent Dance Music"), the kind of thing that I lamented would probably never get big in the States just last year. Only somehow, against all odds, it has.
The Fame is darn near close to perfection. And it's proof that Gaga is more than just that weird, pantsless pop star running around Europe with a bow in her hair and a tea cup in her hand. She's a musician, she's a vessel, she's a star. Some of you are probably aware of this already, but to most of you, this is breaking news. You think you know Gaga, but you have no idea.
Questions? Concerns? Hit me up at BTTS@...
Lady Gaga Is Kurt Cobain, Axl Rose And David Bowie Rolled Into One
It's official: Lady Gaga will bring her fashion-forward stage show to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, as she is set to perform at the ceremony on September 13. Though I love Jay-Z, Green Day and the other acts already announced as performers, I'm most looking forward to Gaga. I echo James Montgomery's enthusiasm for The Fame even without the juggernaut singles, it would still be one of the more impressive pop albums of the past decade. When you add in her phenomenal approach to fashion, her ultra-quotable interviews and her extraordinary visual sense (hence her nine VMA nominations), you get a tremendous package. (No pun intended.)
But the woman born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta didn't simply drop from the sky fully formed. Rather, she's a careful construction of a number of other stars. Think of her as the FrankenStar, made up of the parts below.
David Bowie: Bowie spent most of his early career pretending he came to this planet from outer space. Those shiny suits Gaga wears? Totally Bowie. And Ziggy Stardust was also obsessed with the concept of fame in fact, it was the title of one of his biggest hits.
Grace Jones: A woman who plays a hybrid stew of pop styles and has a commitment to stage costumes? That sounds familiar.
Axl Rose: Axl was a great singer and frontman (and hell, an underrated dancer), but the thing he was great at was creating a sense of unpredictability and danger wherever he went. Gaga has yet to refuse to perform because her deli tray wasn't up to snuff, but every time she shows up to an interview in costume or performs live, there's always the possibility that something could get out of hand and that's awesome.
Kelis: Gaga probably wishes every night that she was the one who wrote "Milkshake," as it's probably the best double-entendre tune of the past 20 years. But perhaps Gaga's greatest skill is making things sound dirty after all, "Bluffin' with my muffin" sounds like it should be filthy, but maybe it isn't after all.
Kurt Cobain: It may seem like a stretch, but one of the genius things that Cobain did during his all-too-brief career was not take himself seriously. Whether it was in videos, on stage or during interviews, Cobain sometimes came across like a guy who didn't care about being famous or even being a musician. Gaga is the same way sometimes, it seems like she's just going to stand up and say "Gotcha!" and laugh at our expense. Again, that sort of unpredictability is so rare that it becomes truly thrilling.
I'm putting my money down now: Lady Gaga will steal the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Tags Axl-Rose, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Lady Gaga, Nirvana
Aug 12 2009
Can Lady Gaga Top These Iconic MTV VMA Performances?
From Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' to Rihanna's layer cake, Gaga's got plenty of pop diva inspiration for her VMA debut.
By Jocelyn Vena
Not only is Lady Gaga up for nine Moonmen at the VMAs this year as they embark on the singer's hometown of New York, but she's also just been tapped to perform at the live show on September 13 at 9 p.m. ET.
Gaga has yet to disappoint with her TV appearances on "American Idol," "Dancing With the Stars" and even "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" this year, so for a show as big as the VMAs, the expectations are high. Not only will the fashion-forward star have to top herself, but also the divas and pop princesses who have left indelible marks on the ceremony over the years. Just last year, Rihanna emerged from a towering industrial layer cake, and Pink set off explosions and smashed windows. Clearly, the same old song-and-dance doesn't cut it anymore.
Britney Spears has hit the VMA stage with stripper poles, nearly naked and wrapped in snakes. She's graced the stage as a solo act and collaborated with 'NSYNC, as well as Christina Aguilera and Madonna. Sometimes, as was the case at the 2008 VMAs, Spears doesn't even have to perform to be the star of the show.
But there would be no Britney if Madonna hadn't been there first. There's no one who gets the magic of MTV's biggest spectacle more than the Material Girl, who has tried it all and worn it all. She's dressed in Marie Antoinette garb for her performance of "Vogue" in 1990. In 1993, she channeled Marlene Dietrich for her performance of "Bye Bye Baby." And then she went all Hindi-spiritual for her "Ray of Light" performance in 1998. We all know that Gaga appreciates a costume or two, so any one of those should provide her with inspiration.
Of course, the biggest performance to beat may be Madonna's 1984 VMA appearance. Clad in a wedding dress and lacy white gloves, Madonna officially became the reigning queen of pop when she rolled around on the stage at Radio City while singing, "Like a Virgin." The performance was anything but virginal. Madonna even paid tribute to it, along with Spears and Aguilera, in 2003.
Although there's no word yet on which hit Gaga will be performing come September 13, we're sure she'll go big.
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards will take place September 13 at 9 p.m. ET. Additional celebrity presenters and performers will be announced in the coming weeks. To be the first to find out the inside scoop, follow the Inside MTV Twitter account at Twitter.com/InsideMTV.
Is Lady Gaga a Dude?
Is Lady Gaga Really A Hermaphrodite? Probably Not ...
Lady Gaga certainly knows how to get people's attention.
A video from one of the singer's concerts has materialized, and at one moment, a bulge is seen in her underwear that, well, kind of looks like male genitalia (although it may actually be her panties literally getting into a wad). In the wake of the inevitable blog chatter about her being a hermaphrodite, Gaga apparently commented on the matter.
Although we have not been able to locate the quote's original source and her rep had not responded to our bizarre questions at press time multiple blogs are reporting that Gaga isn't ashamed of it and does in fact consider herself a woman.
"It's not something that I'm ashamed of, it just isn't something that I go around telling everyone," she reportedly said. "Yes. I have both male and female genitalia, but I consider myself a female. It's just a little bit of a penis and really doesn't interfere much with my life."
Gaga, who has openly talked about being bisexual, added, "The reason I haven't talked about it is that its not a big deal to me. Like, come on. It's not like we all go around talking about our [genitalia]. [Editor's note OK, she's definitely not a man!] I think this is a great opportunity to make other multiple-gendered people feel more comfortable with their bodies. I'm sexy, I'm hot. I have both. Big f---ing deal."
Bear in mind, this is the same woman who recently said she married Kanye West ...
How Many Muppets Died To Clothe Lady Gaga?
Lady Gaga is not only a worldwide pop star but also a fashion icon, but lately her choices can be considered boundary-pushing even for a forward-thinker like herself. She gave a TV interview in Malta while wearing a strange mask, and she appeared on German television wearing something that looked like a giant lamp shade. But her most recent appearance is her most out-there yet. While doing another interview in Germany, Gaga showed up wearing a top made entirely out of sewn-together Kermit the Frog dolls. She even had a Kermit-based hat that somehow stayed atop her head. The effect is surreal, to say the least.