Love to Lady Gaga

Okay. So.  I’ve got to admit something. I kind of like Lady Gaga. And by like I mean I frantically read all of her interviews. Big deal, you may say, lots of people like her. But rewind to last spring and I was filled with spiky distate for this lady. I hated “Just Dance” (still do) as it played 20 times a day on the radio (which my coworkers play 24/7 without my control) but that’s all I knew about her. The song was vapid and seemingly manufactured crap just like the image she appeared to be such a puppet slave to. And I’m kind of a music bitch and so I judged.

But then the reverse of what usually happens happened–sometimes I like a song, then hear an interview or hear a band live, realize they’re dumb or untalented and then dislike them. But with Gaga it was the opposite. I hated her songs on the radio, but began to love her after reading her interviews, learning more about her background, and hearing her play live. I fell for her.

In a sea of Taylor Swift and American Idol I think we need Gaga. So here’s why you should love her too. Join us!

First of all, I give her mega props because she did pop music like rock musicians do rock music: she worked her way up, playing small bars throughout the Lower East Side, going from gig to gig: more New York Dolls than Britney Spears. Instead of schmoozing her way to a record contract, she put in the time and effort by writing and performing her own music from dive bar to dive bar with just a keyboard and a fog machine. On entering pop music, Lady Gaga once said that it seemed more like a challenge–no one was doing pop music. Everyone thought pop music was easy and vapid and Lady Gaga wanted to prove them wrong, that pop music could be not only entertaining but innovative and intelligent. She earned her stripes in a grassroots music way, and I applaud that.

Second, she has a fierce loyalty to the LGBT community. She made her way up through the burlesque scene and she loves her gays. In one of her first mainstream tv interviews on Ellen she said she looked up to Ellen because she’s such an inspiration for the gay community. Could you ever see Rhianna saying that? Lady Gaga recently marched and spoke at the National Equality March in D.C. and said to a crowd of over 500,000 that her attendance that day was “the single most important moment of [her] career.” Sure there’s been lots of female pop singers who’ve been gay icons (Cher, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli) but I can’t imagine them at a rally like this, not even after 30+ years of success let alone right at the beginning of their career. In her speech she said “as a woman in pop music, as a woman with the most beautiful gay fans in the world, to do my part I refuse to accept any misogynistic and homophobic behavior in music, lyrics, or actions in the music industry.” Love. It.

Third, she’s actually a musician. Like I said, I hated her songs on the radio–the manufactured studio crap that makes pop music so loathsome in my mind. But strip all that production away and that’s when I started to actually like her–the lady can sing and play the piano like a pro. She takes a mic and a keyboard and goes at it solo to play live on tv, on radio shows, on any stage big or small…can you imagine Beyonce ever doing that?

But yes, I know the fashion thing turns a lot of people off. She takes her fashion…well…a titch seriously; she’s in the magazines more for her wacky fashion choices than for her music. And yeah, people think she’s crazy for that. But what about Kiss and the facepaint? Or Bowie–he was a freaking clown for Ashes to Ashes and yet everyone loves him. In an interview she once said that she doesn’t dress to be crazy but to challenge people’s ideas of what is attractive: “I think I’m changing what people think is sexy.”

Finally, if you need only one reason to love her it’s this– she’s fierce. Case in point: her recent SNL performance:

The third-wave postmodern feminist movement needs an icon like Lady Gaga, so take another look at the Lady.


9 responses to “Love to Lady Gaga

  1. Mayhem and I just got into it over whether we can rightly call Gaga an “icon” over gchat:

    Spitfire: my only thought: can we call her an icon of the third wave when she’s explicitly rejected feminism?

    Mayhem: of course we can
    she rejected the term as perfunctory, she didn’t reject its foundation or its goals
    the beauty/confusion of multi-faceted third-wave

    Spitfire: i’m not saying she’s not feminist, most of what she does i think is very feminist
    idk– i’m thinking of that interview she did “i’m not a feminist. i love men, i hail men”

    Mayhem: she’s not the first to think that feminism means man-hating
    what she is doing is feminist, whether or not she adheres to the label.

    Spitfire: right– but by saying she’s an icon of our movement when she’s explicitly rejected us still just makes me uncomfortable.

    Mayhem: i’m not going to hold one interview against her because i wonder if she was presented with a firm definition of feminist if she’d reject it–i doubt it. rather i judge her on her entire ouvre and that is undeniably feminist. perhaps icon is the wrong word though.

    Spitfire: i think i can agree with you there.

    but what should we then call her?

  2. I agree with Mayhem. I’ll add myself to the ranks of those who used to think “feminist” was just the opposite of “male chauvinist.” Once I learned that wasn’t the case, I came to embrace the word rather than reject it. I think that that interview is a symptom of the semantics problem, not necessarily proof that she’s rejecting those ideals.

    Plus, Poker Face really is one of my favorite pop songs. 🙂

    • you’re exactly right, and almost making my points for me: until she’s had that “click” moment herself and enters feminism’s ranks voluntarily and wholeheartedly, I’m going to have a problem listing her as one of the icons of the third wave.

      She’s great for pop music. I’ve loved her since day one (unlike mayhem, there’s a soft spot for Just Dance in my heart)– and I can’t wait for the day that she wears a Hello Kitty t-shirt that says “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” with no pants and a minnie mouse bow in her hair.

  3. “…pop music could be not only entertaining but innovative and intelligent.”

    Quick question: how has she done this?

    What is intelligent and deeply innovative about singing about taking rides on disco sticks (ahem) or not wearing pants ever? Innovative in dress, certainly. Playing dive bars in order to make your name in pop is not common, that’s true, but….I really don’t see how her music is intelligent or innovative, somehow above that of other pop musicians.

  4. i don’t know if i believe she HAS made pop music innovative and intelligent, that’s just her intention. she surely has used it as a platform to shine attention on other issues (LGBT march) and i do think she is intelligent in her musicality.
    (i wonder how and when pop music became a synonym for bad music. or simple music. ?)
    she’s definitely not the most innovative musician out there, but i’m intrigued to see where she goes from here.

  5. upon further reflection, i’d like to know why you chose to single out Beyonce and Rihanna for further criticism when I think both of these women aren’t what’s wrong with pop music. Beyonce (though I know you hate her) is an example of good pop star: strong woman, employs an entirely female band and dancers– which is incredibly empowering to witness- when I saw her in concert it just blew me away that there wasn’t a man in sight. that the people rocking out on all of the instruments were alllll women. you just don’t see that. And her songs are catchy. And she’s something like the #4 performer according to Forbes?…. (don’t quote me there)
    And Rihanna, too, I think is an example of a strong woman who has worked her way to the top of the charts (good management?…).
    Maybe they weren’t playing small shows in NY like Gaga, but they’ve both worked hard to achieve the level of fame they’ve acquired.

    When I think of talentless, vapid pop stars, I would have singled out “singers” like Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson, or Brooke Hogan.

  6. I am putting it this way: She is our gen’s more talented Madonna. Let’s enjoy her as she is before she starts pursuing an acting “career” like Madge.

  7. I would argue that “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” is, in fact, a little innovative.

    Stay with me here — This particular song, “Love Game,” isn’t just about risque lyrics. It’s about a one night stand. It’s about being a woman who sees a man and says, you know what, I want that. So she goes for it.

    I think of the “risque” songs of my youth, most notably “Like A Virgin.” And no matter how often the lyrics made my mother whip out her rosary and furiously pray for my soul, the song was not about some random hook-up. It was about a woman who is so in love with someone, he makes her feel like it’s her first time.

    This is what all of these types of songs revolve around — they sound sexy and hardcore but they really involve a relationship and feelings. “Love Game,” despite the word “love,” is about primal urges, and I imagine Lady Gaga called it “Love Game” on purpose. I suppose “Bone Game” would have worked, but she is more INNOVATIVE than that. A ha!

    Not to say that one-night stands are somehow innovative or feminist in nature. But calling it what it is — and a woman doing it rather than a man — is, in my opinion, innovative.

  8. This seems to be a hot topic. i enjoy Lady Gaga’s music, and her strong stances she takes (both of the first two videos).

    However, I really was disturbed by the fact that Rihanna and Beyonce were singled out in a negative manner–I’m in full agreement that Lohan or Simpson would have been more appropriate.

    Also–how is the last YouTube video on this post as you say, *fierce*? I don’t see that. It seemed tame. It seemed cheap. It’s a slightly catchy song, perhaps. but nothing do I see that makes me think “Wowzerz! Gaga is fierce!” It also doesn’t seem very strong and feminist that she is wearing virtually nothing in this video…her costume could perhaps arguably be innovative but that’s about it…

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