Why Lady Gaga is the future of pop
Gaga about Gaga
Underneath Lady Gaga’s yellow Lego style bob lurks the new Madonna, argues Camilla Pia
We tried to resist, honestly we did, but Lady Gaga got to The List in the end. It wasn’t the relentless, vom-inducing marketing campaign that did it either. No, no, we survived all that initial fluff; we battled triumphantly against the moneyed barrage of hype and her bland R&B-inspired first offering ‘Just Dance’, only to be ultimately ensnared by the release of the gargantuan anthem ‘Poker Face’ last year. It has haunted us since first listen, as did ‘Paparazzi’ and then finally ‘Bad Romance’. It was the nail in the coffin of any too-cool-for-school, indie-snob cred – we were soon singing along happily to that chorus of ‘roma ra ra’, ‘Gaga’ and ‘Oh la la’. A few months later, we’ve got it really bad – sometimes waking in the dead of night, sweat-dripping, grinning demonically and whispering, wide-eyed, ‘HAUS.OF.GAGA’ over and over.
You see, as well as being a highly addictive modern pop classic, pa-pa-pa ‘Poker Face’ signalled the arrival of an extraordinary star, not last seen since Ma Ma Ma-donna was good. It was THE POP MOMENT of 2009 that set the ball rolling for a string of incredibly catchy hits, accompanied by controversy, eccentricity and visual freakery. Gaga made music genuinely exciting and innovative again. Last year, yes, we lost the Sugababes, and Girls Aloud slowly started to make a bid for freedom, but really, did anyone notice? We were too busy marvelling at Gaga plonking at flaming pianos, yapping extreme eccentricity in TV interviews, gender-bending at festivals, making BFFs with Oprah and Elton John, donning the most outlandish of outfits courtesy of the ‘Haus of Gaga’ and in her last video (for ‘Bad Romance’) managing to simultaneously conjure up mental images of Marilyn Manson, Kubrick, Britney, Hitchcock and the criminally insane.
Granted, she’s not yet a whole album proposition; The Fame was filler-tastic for the most part, but The Fame Monster’s extra eight tracks bolted on for December’s re-release (including killer duet ‘Telephone’ with Beyonce) bode very, very well indeed. In fact we reckon it’s only a matter of time before the deranged dame delivers a whoppingly awesome 12-tracker – which will all be well and good, but really clever, well executed pop is about so much more than just the music. That’s the beauty of it. There’s a hell of a lot of difference, for example, between the thrilling visual and sonic science behind Gaga and Girls Aloud and the run-of-the-mill X-Factor plodders and Pixie Lotts of this world. It’s like comparing Kasabian with, say, Biffy Clyro. Yes, both make music with guitars in a primarily guitar-based genre, but my god, we know who comes up with the more inventive stuff. (Spoiler: it’s not Kasabian.)
Similarly, properly amazing, hype-worthy, pioneering pop music is about more than just sing-able melodies and expensive stylists. It’s about never-ending reinvention (30%), the what the hell is he/she wearing factor (10%), pissing people off with screw-you sass and provocative soundbites (10%), playing with sexuality and gender (5%) and ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, fusing a bizarre mix of musical styles and influences that shouldn’t work but they just do (45%). Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, like all the finest pop acts, brings that formula together in a seamless, born-to-do-it, ridiculously infectious and mind-messing fashion. So step forward Lady Gaga – icon in waiting.
Lady Gaga, SECC, Glasgow, Mon 1 Mar.