Lots of people are saying that Lady Gaga has lost it. I wasn’t in Carlisle myself but the word online is that after she burst out of a coffin at Radio 1’s Big Weekend yesterday, in true vampirical form, her performance sucked. If indeed this is the backlash it’s long, long overdue.
Until yesterday, perhaps, when asked whether you agree that Lady Gaga’s amazing, unless you come up with a response about her being “a modern icon on a par with Madonna”, “an artist part of the Bowie and Warhol lineage re-defining modern pop” or some other such gushing, the response you’re invariably greeted with usually suggests you’ve just told someone that their mum’s a massive slag. For some reason going anything other than gaga for Gaga just isn’t socially acceptable.
I can partly understand this seemingly unbreakable consensus. It’s arguably been decades since we had a genuine chisel-them-in-history-now new pop icon and the lust to anoint one is fervent – especially as Jacko never made it to the O2 Arena. Plus there’s little denying that when she hits her peaks Gaga’s music is the pinnacle of current pop – ‘Paparazzi’ is untouchable, as is ‘Telephone’. But beyond this? Come on – most of ‘The Fame’ sounds like Girls Aloud album tracks, ‘Born This Way’ is Euro disco fluff and ‘Judas’ is just… annoying.
Beyond the music, Gaga’s contrived presentation of herself as an icon has been lapped up vigorously, but no-one can actually pinpoint what her image is. And not because she’s shape-shifting like Bowie or Madonna – it’s just because there’s no original substance or meaning behind it. Meat dresses, corner shop sparkler boob-crackers etc… it’s just fancy dress. Good fun, yes, but no more meaningful than Jay Kay’s peacock corpse hat.
But more worrying than the simple fact that her omnipresence is getting weary is Gaga’s position as a self-appointed knight of gay rights. I can’t see how projecting the message that being transsexual, a drag queen, gay or bi is pretty much the same thing and that all gay people walk around stripped to the waist sporting leather straps listening to cheesy Amsterdam disco pop is all that helpful. How is that doing anything other than reinforcing clichéd stereotypes about homosexuality?
It’ll be interesting to see if Gaga fever remains as hot after the ‘Born This Way’ album comes out – as the early singles, plus the fact that her record label won’t let any journalists hear it properly to review it before people can buy it, suggest that it’s not going to be a particularly immaculate collection.
Maybe people will see through the façade and will start training their eyes around in search of the next pop icon hopeful in waiting. Maybe if I start stapling bacon slices over my body and walking around on flowerpot stilts enough, it could be me…