Friday, August 12, 2011

Defending Lady Gaga?

I don't know why I am defending Lady Gaga.

I am a fortyish man who should be waaay beyond having heated discussions about pop stars.

However, when I mentioned that I was enjoying the new single Yoü and I from her new album, my friend D said that it sounded too much like Shania Twain. Now, ever since the song Born This Way was widely criticized to sound too much like Madonna's Express Yourself, there seems to be a major backlash going on against Lady Gaga.

For the general public, I get it, we always want to tear down our idols, especially when they get too big, probably because maybe we can't give our love to someone and then have them be a happy, successful millionaire. We want them all to ourselves, poor, hungry and coke-addicted, preferably in Alexander McQueen.

However, I don't understand how gay people could be tearing down such someone who has been a trailblazer for GLBT rights. Especially one who is clearly talented. I mean, NOBODY, not even the holy Madonna has ever put in the words "no matter gay, straight or bi / lesbian, transgendered life / I'm on the right track baby / I was born to survive."

I particularly see this in gay men of a certain age (read: old middle-aged queens) who are constantly comparing Lady Gaga to Madonna. Seriously? First of all, Madonna didn't even write Express Yourself by herself. Stephen Bray probably wrote the song and Madonna hummed along and got a songwriting credit. Don't get me wrong. I LOVED Madonna. I was CRAZED about her. But even I can see that her songs are collaborations with whomever producer/songwriter she is working with.

Yes, I can also stand back and suspect that Lady Gaga is exploiting us and our culture, but to be honest, I don't see how putting her neck on the line so overtly sounds calculated. If anything, I am sure her managers are screaming at her to tone the gay down.

Madonna, who mined gay culture for years never actually put the word "gay" in her songs. She never championed for gay rights in a nationally televised HBO show explicitly, without talking between the lines. So while giving Madonna her props, I think that Lady Gaga has far exceeded Madonna here. Lady Gaga has done something nobody has ever done at this level: push GLBT rights and made it the #1 song in America.

I could write more about the music itself, Lady Gaga's originality etc. etc. but I'll be more honest and just include the e-mail I sent D. This was my response when he said Yoü and I sounded like Shania/Mutt Lange. It's rambling and somewhat pointless, but that's really me. Please also note that I typed this out in my ipod and I hate typing in that shitty thing.

Are you talking about the melody or the production? ;) I think that her singing sorta sounds country in this song but that's what's unique about the record : it is 80s rock with 2012 dance sensibility. Nobody said she was the most original songwriter (or imaginative). The chord progressions are pretty standard dance or rock progressions. So yes you can practically sing any song on top of them :) but she is very entertaining. Before this record nobody ever said that this or that song sounds like something else, but if you think about it the whole record is a throwback and sounds like a whole genre. I think that ultimately is what is new with this: it takes a whole stack of 80s records and remixes it for this generation but then adds Jesus, opera, glbt, metal influences and blends it together. If you sit back and listen to it, the whole thing makes sense. This is what I love about the record, it "recalls" something else while being about millenial themes. However nothing will save the unicorn song . It has the stupidest lyrics in the world no matter how catchy. The only person who can sing about unicorns and pull it off is rainbow brite. My favorites are government hooker and scheisse because that is what metal/grind/dance should sound like. Against this backdrop born this way and judas fit amazingly well. If you listen to the Bollywood remixes of her songs I challenge that they sound like anything else. This is because stripped of the familiar 80s production they sound pretty original. J and I were saying how we can listen to the whole record over and over and see how the whole concept goes well. It isn't perfect but the great thing about it is that she tried to do something completely different instead of doing exactly what was expected. That's ultimately what I can respect. Word to your mother. :p

Check out the Bollywood mixes of Lady Gaga's songs @ DJ Evil Twin.

UPDATE: Lady Gaga premieres the video for Yoü and I. Check it out at DJ Evil Twin.