Despite a few long posts about Android and the Desire, I feel like I’ve been neglecting the site a little of late. So while I have a bunch of tardy links to share, today I just want to mention a recent Times article on Lady Gaga. It is written by an unabashed fan which does not always lend itself to the best journalism, but perhaps in this case it was entirely appropriate. Because, despite its length, I felt compelled to read the entire piece on an icon about whom I know little and have limited interest.
Like anyone in a western country paying the remotest attention to modern music, I am very aware of her. However I read almost nothing about because I tend not to follow celebrities unless I also have a genuine interest in their art. I do understand the important musical contribution that Gaga has made — almost single-handedly she has reinvigorated a creatively dead pop industry. So her relevance is in a genre that, generally, holds little attraction for me. Eric Cartman’s cover of Poker Face excites me more than the original (I even have it on Rock Band), but the very fact such a thing exists is a testament to her influence. I fully accept that the notion of Cartman “bluffin’ with his muffin” is horrific. Probably.
Seeing her rise as a counter-culture feminist icon has been equally startling, not because I am in any way opposed to it, but because of the ill-conceived attacks against such an idea that it has sparked (a brief glance at the comments reveals how wrong the writer is). I am, as you are probably aware, so in favour of equality that it tends to infuriate many feminists (who find it difficult to argue with me) and girls who think they want equality until they realise it necessarily requires relinquishing certain social advantages they have long held in order to gain economic (and other) ones. I think the subversive fashion in which Gaga treats the media fascination with sexualising absolutely everything is a fantastic approach, rather than merely railing against it. As she mentions in the interview, while she may strut around scantily clad in her music videos, it is rarely in a way that is designed to be attractive to the typical man, though arguably it is sometimes calculated solely to be provocative. I am a strong believer that the best way to undermine anything is to take it to its logical extremes rather than to suppress it. And suddenly Eric Cartman and Lady Gaga make perfect sense as contemporaries and collaborators.
I’ll leave you with a song that you almost certainly won’t have heard before, a lesser known YouTube-posted Amanda Palmer song that she recently performed live at a ninja gig (last-minute, but not exactly secret when you mention it to your 400,000 Twitter followers) at the Underworld: Gaga, Palmer, Madonna. While technical complexity is impressive, honesty is a trait I’ve begun to find increasingly endearing in music. Perhaps because so little popular music is.