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July 10, 2010



The entire time I was at the show last night, I kept thinking "please let Rich be here ... please let Rich be here ..." I was so excited to read your take on it. I think it's hard(er) to appreciate the show, or the Lady, herself, when you're a gay man in your 30s who's been out 10+ years like you and I are. I kept thinking about what it would be like if I were 16 and closeted living in the suburbs, and this creature came into my existence. For that alone, I am grateful for her and her message. As an adult gay man who is comfortable in my skin, though, I just appreciated the amazing pop music, the sick vocals, and the eye candy that filled the Garden. Oh, and the fact that I could drink a lot of beer. It helped.


I'd say given the look of the Alejandro video, Gaga as propaganda is probably the focus. She seems to be trying to make us all participate in larger than life, over the top groupthink.


I am over the "Personality" that is Lady Gaga. I can listen to her music now and then, like I can listen to Britney or Christina, but to me they're all about the same.


As much as I enjoy her music and admire the genius responsible for all her success, I haven't as much as heard Gaga speak in an interview. This was an interesting perspective on someone whom to me was a mystery until now (I'm just not THAT kind of fan). But reading this, I can only expect that "the fans" will never actually catch a genuine glimpse of whoever the hell she actually is. She seems to take her career so seriously as just that. Everything from the expressions on her face to these motivation-boosting rants you describe are all merely... well... poker face.

Also, the time you spent on your wording really shows, the whole post flowed brilliantly- kudos on that.

Miss Lisa

I admire her spunk and youthful ambition but generally she irritates the fucking hell out of me. I tend to avoid large groups of like-thinking/looking people--it doesn't matter to me what the musical genre is. In this case it's dance music. It's not that crazy or rebellious. But let us celebrate her ability to combine so many raw elements from over the years into one successful media persona. SOMEONE had to save the music industry.


The main purpose behind a pop star is to sell a illusion, well, isn't it clear!? Some may over-do things (like GaGa), some will keep it low profile but is never hard to picture the big machine behind the ''artist'' that is producing lies every where. At least some of them make you think about it and somehow expose the madness of the industry.


While I realize the irony of preaching independence to a bunch of people who are trying to emulate you, I think it's short-sighted to think that the same thing wasn't done by every other generation of "outsiders". Goths dress the same. Hipster indie musicians dress the same. And yet they all believe in their individuality. Lady Gaga has a pulpit, and she could choose to use it to say much worse things to teenage girls than "be yourself" or "I give money to charity". I can't stand her music, but I appreciate the role she's playing in popular culture, and her awareness of that role for better or worse.


She's taking pop star to the next level. Where as Madonna changed her looks she never really changed her music. GaGa is primarily a pop/disco performer now but her piano power ballads hint that she can go other places. Is she Madonna now and Elton John in 2012? I think she has the possibility to morph into anything she wants where as Madonna never did (which is not a criticism). I'm excited to see where she is going to take us musically and who will follow.


You are treating uniqueness as zero-sum. Typically, it IS treated that way in the sense that people treat uniqueness as a quality that sets one thing over all others. This isn't necessarily the case tho yet since you seem to disagree about that, this is probably why you keep wanting to bash your head against the wall when she keeps insisting on egalitarian uniqueness. I don't really think its a contradiction to say something like "everyone is unique and special" for two reasons: a) everyone is basically unique to their time, position, circumstances, etc and b) special is a judgment of worth that she is free to employ however she wishes.

Taken together, her effort seems to be directed at creating a collective experience predicated on the individual worth of all. She wants to create a safe space where people can both express themselves but not be offended by the expressions of others, instead joining them in a collective celebration of difference. She doesn't seem to be just a shock artist that tries to push the boundaries for the sake of pushing people's buttons. She seems to earnestly want a broadening of acceptance.

This also seems to indicate to me why she seems so desperate(not the right word but whatever)to communicate to her audience her appreciation. Her goal is to be one amongst many; yes, she seems to acknowledge her talent and the work she puts in to her performance but I don't think she would say that it invalidates her desire for it to be a collective experience that celebrates the uniqueness of all participants.

I think part of the constant reminding of how grateful she is, is to remind herself of how grateful she should be. I could see how she would be concerned about losing herself and uses those expressions as a means of both grounding herself and trying to keep the fact that she is the one performing the music from taking away from any potential for a collective experience. They are in tension but all collective experience is in a tension between the individual and the collectivity it creates, which is more than a simple summation of the individuals that comprise it.

Anyway, that said, I still think your take was brilliant.

Erica Gaga

Lady Gaga is a talented artist, you can take it or leave it. When will the world sit back and take her for what she real is, she is a performer, she entertains people. You really think that she was demanding for everyone to clap for her? It's part of a show that she puts on.. it is not who she is and it is not her trying to transform her fans into something. About the donating money, SHE DONATED MONEY, I'm not sure how trying to get other people to donate and saying she would match it means she is patting herself on that back but thats fine. Also, just want to say that in regards to the comment on the song that she played a week ago and was confused that everyone knew it, she was saying that she always hears people saying how its all about her clothes and appearance and she even said directly after that "these kids don't give a shit about the clothes, it's about the music for them." You must have missed that part. OH and when she said "There are so many of you, what's going on," she was transitioning into the Wizard of Oz theme, not patting herself on the back for having fans.

Peace Love & Lady Gaga


Gaga always struck me as possessing a kind of naiveté about the industry she's inserted herself into ("Pop music will never be low brow"? Really?), which is a great thing as far as I'm concerned. Everything about pop culture right now from the music to the icons is so jaded, so as cheesy as Gaga can be, it feels good. And while I admit I may be wrong, I like to think that her product will gain substance as time goes on, I believe that there's more to her than the shtick. In other words - I do believe in fairies, I do, I do. lol


You know what I love about South Park? the fact that they can lampoon and ridicule an entire group of people for about 15 minutes and then switch it on you and give the other side. I might hold you in a higher regard than south park, but I still see a similarity. You clearly enjoy her music while still seeing a contradiction in her ... actions. this is evident not only in this article but the Village article "Lady Gaga Approximately."
Thank you for not just slamming for the sake of slam and not just praising for the sake of praise. It is obvious to me that you're not just 'here to make friends' you're sending a message for all 'your haters out there.'

Bears are Fat

Gaga has a sense of humor in her costume, in her lyrics, in her image. But her actually personality is doltish, boring, humorless, practically moronic. She's terrible in interviews. (Insert obligatory and meaningfully contrastive comparison to Madonna here; e.g., could you imagine Truth or Dare with Gaga? It would be a snoozefest.)

Glad someone else notices that she can't dance.

I love her, I think she's important, and I find it ironic that the club kids are all hating her -- talk about the narcissism of small differences.

Also, the earlier iteration of the Monster's Ball tour, the one before she bought left over stage pieces from Sticky and Sweet and came up with the Jacksonish 'Whiz' narrative, was much better. More pure.

Surprised you didn't mention the CeCe Peniston sample. Best part of the show.

Name Required?

Has your experience with recognition jaded you, Rich? Let's not forget what it meant to the up-and-coming, circa 2010.



You're almost never of a different opinion than I. For this reason, I swear we need to get together one day in NY and have a long, boozy Pop-Culuture deconstruction marathon session.
However, I'll differ with you in that I don't even see the quality in Gaga's music. I do recognize the need for her in Pop-Culture (loathe a vacuum, and all that), and the fact that she's playing with visuals better than anyone has in almost a decade, but yeah... musically? not so much.

Still, she's a compelling entity -- possibly moreso than any of her contemporaries at the moment. Case in point, I tried writing a critique of Aguilera a while back, but spent a good chunk of it discussing Gaga instead:

I love flash. But I value talent more. Why can't someone marry the two?
This is why Janelle Monae is my last hope. I just wish she had the label backing Gaga so clearly does.


Just a reminder, Lady Gaga is 24 years old. Remember when we were younger and we tried to combine idealism with our egos? She'll evolve.


I have noticed she isn't good in interviews as well. I don't think she's witty/sharp, which as the post notes, results in her utopian banter. Or have you seen this article? Explains a lot.

I think Gaga's music is innovative. Janelle Monae doesn't seem that special to me, she sounds like she came from another decade.


Oh yeah, this post reminds me of a recent article by Paglia where she described Gaga as "compulsive overkill, is a high-concept fabrication without an ounce of genuine eroticism".



"Janelle Monae doesn't seem that special to me, she sounds like she came from another decade."

To that I must ask, "but what decade?" She isn't some '60s/'70s-echoing act like your Winehouse or Adele or (sometimes) Solange. She'll do a '50s-inspired croon right after a '60s-inspired cut, right after a troika of cuts that, while futuristic, sound like they were born of some primordial sap that would later spawn both "Off the Wall" and "Planet Rock".

I proseletyse a lot about her on my blog. Feel free to browse more and take a look.
(I know I've been exploring yours. ;) Oh, and thanks for commenting. Would love to hear more from you -- most of my readers lurk.)


You really spoil your readers. Another beautiful bit of writing. Thank-you, Rich.

Chantal Goya

Love the post Rich.

You're the exception to this, but I HATE talking about Lady GaGa with white gay guys. They are so defensive. Jeez!


What Lady Gaga is doing is deconstructing the music industry and the whole pop star machine. Everything is deliberately manufactured, artificial -- the career, the music, the outfits. She also employs motifs of mind control (the whole Illuminati thing) to show how ridiculous the whole thing is. I thinks she's more brilliant than people give her credit for.


Have you ever read her tweets? They are the most obnoxious overly dramatic bullshit I've ever read. Every other one mentions crying. I remember the first time I saw 'Just Dance'...to be honest it took me a few listens to get into it, but I was obsessed with 'The Fame' for a good while. Now I just want to punch the stupid out of her.


I agree with the person who mentioned Janelle Monae above, now that is a musician I'm interested in. She really is the most talented artist out at the moment.

Gaga for me is just too much of a living franchise. Everything about her is just so calculated that I don't trust a single ounce of sincerity from her.

My friends went her concert here in Sydney and they too were a little offput by the tinkerbellesque commands.


it is a good observation of her rich.
personally i dont buy into all that "drama" she supposedly creates, i.e posing as man or going half naked at a baseball game.

i couldnt really give a stuff about that, on the other hand, i do like some of her music because its catchy and the lyrics dont mean anything but for me it doesnt have to.

i know she said she wants to make the world campier, but we all know that is just her PR machine working.

but yeah, i take her like a grain of salt and as long as she spits out catchy tunes. like alejandro, ill listen to her.

she reminds me of madonna, im not a huge fan of her and her reinventions and all that crap. but i still listen to material girl, vogue etc because its catchy.

i think i tend to ignore the singer and just like the song lol

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