“I have a confession to make. I like Lady Gaga.” That’s what my friend _____ told me today. I had been hearing a bit about her from here and there and had made some Bowie parallels from the critical comments. I wanted to see if she really was the next Bowie and had watched a few of her videos for the first time the night before my friend made their confession.
One thing that I did know about her is that she has a constantly changing “look.” I had seen her when “Poker Face” came out, and then I saw a poster for “Fame Monster” and didn’t realize she was the same person. The videos reinforced this idea, she totally changes several time during the space of a 4 minute song. Hmm, so she has mutable looks, that’s a parallel with Bowie I suppose. The thing is, I didn’t see any personality differences, or even real narratives like Bowie was wont to do.
The thing that really struck me watching those videos (Telephone, Bad Romance, Just Dance, Poker Face) was how little sex appeal she has. She’s the only attractive woman I have ever seen that can wear a bikini like a uniform. She seems to only ever wear extraordinarily form fitting clothes, or next to nothing. She is a good looking woman, and she has quite the figure, but she doesn’t come close to, say, a Karen O (who is far plainer by any criteria) in sex appeal. This is going to sound strange, but Lady Gaga resembles what I would imagine a gay guy would come up with if he wanted to make a “sexy” woman. All of the obvious things are there, but something essential is missing.
If we assume that this is an intentional thing, then there might indeed be some parallels with Bowie, it’s all very “meta.” What does it mean to be a pop female singer? Is she sexy by dint of the uniform that she wears, sings, or dances? Is Lady gaga a character? Does it matter what character she is, if she looks like that must she wear scanty clothing? Bowie explored some of the ideas behind fame, characters in rock, and image as well. Hell, “Fame Monster” sounds like an album he could have made in ’74 or ’75.
I can’t say that I like her music, but I understand why some people would. If she is indeed trying to explore some of this stuff, she has picked the most vapid, least meaningful genre to do it in. Maybe that’s part of the act. I wasn’t really cognisant of what Bowie was up to back in the early 70’s, for all I know the same criticisms were leveled against him. People are giving the label of performance artist to Lady Gaga, I’m willing to wait and see what she has planned before crowning her as the next Bowie. But I won’t write her off either…