This week, Animal Planet has released the first promo for it’s summer staple, Shark Week which features the music of Lady Gaga. Twas a true mix of emotions for me – and I’m sure countless more – as my love for Shark Week is only matched by my hatred for Lady Gaga.
This wasn’t always the case though (the Lady Gaga part, my passion for Shark Weekhas been a constant) and it got me thinking: Why exactly did the public sentiment towards Gaga change?
For clarification, I must note here that I understand Lady Gaga is an incredibly popular artist with an EXTREMELY passionate fan base. In fact, I’m relatively sure I’ll get more angry replies to this post by her superfans randomly searching tumblr for ‘Lady Gaga’ than I get daily readers. And I’m not condoning her fans for enjoying her product; we all have our own tastes and sensibilities. And the fact that she is still SO popular only validates that there is an appeal – I’m merely exploring why I think the rest of us don’t enjoy her any longer.
I’m speaking of the non-Monster public, those of us, who’ve gone from enjoying, tolerating, or perhaps even occasionally doing the telephone dance in the privacy of their own home (I’m confident I’m not alone), to cringing at the mere mentioning of her name. Her image has been unchanged, and her music has only slightly declined (‘Born this Way’s questionable originality is pretty well documented and ‘On the Edge’ sounds like it was intended for a ABC Family Movie about Ice Dancing but still, its OK), yet still, public sentiment towards her has drastically been altered.
But if she’s remain relatively the same, why has the public’s narrative of her become so different? I’m reminded of an excerpt from Nick Hornby’s “Songbook.”
“Songbook” is a book of essays where Hornby – author of High Fidelity and About a Boy – reviews 31 of his favorite tracks and explains why he’s so enamored with them. The excerpt I’m referring to is from his review of Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like A Bird.” (Pause for laughter). Here’s the piece:
Dave Eggers has a theory that we play songs over and over, those of us who do, because we have to “solve” them, and it’s true that in our early relationship with, and courtship of, a new song, there is a stage which is akin to a sort of emotional puzzlement. There’s a little bit in “I’m like a Bird,” for example, about halfway through, where the voice is double-tracked on a phrase, and the effect especially on someone who is not a musician, someone who loves and appreciates music but is baffled and seduced by even the simplest musical tricks – is rich and fresh and addictive.
Sure, it will seem thin and stale soon enough. Before very long I will have “solved” “I’m Like A Bird,” and I won’t want to hear it very much anymore – a three minute pop song can only withhold its mysteries for so long, after all. So, yes, it’s disposable, as if that makes any difference to anyone’s perceptions of the value of pop music.”
The problem with Lady Gaga is listed above; we’ve solved her.
Her extremely in-your-face persona caught us off guard at first, and as a whole, we kind of enjoyed it: It was new, fun, and for the most part her music was pretty tolerable, arguably even above average by pop-standards. And because of this, she became a person of interest to us: Someone who caught our eye because we couldn’t quite put her together, and for a brief period of time became must watch/discuss.
But that faded when we did figure it all out: She’s a pop artist who separated herself by creating a persona that allowed people who generally follow the mainstream to access their ‘weird/dark’ side guilt free.
We’ve known this for about a year now. But despite this, she continues to ram this increasingly dull persona down our throats continuously w/ meat dresses andblood&semen perfume line and anything else in an attempt to “shock” us. But after a while, when you continuously do it over and over again, we can’t be shocked anymore.
We’ve figured out the magic trick*, but she keeps forcing us to watch her act. Over, and over, and over again. It’s not a rabbit this time, it’s a cat. We still get it.
And I think this is what will be the end of Madam Gaga – her persona, or character has become so dominant that she’s become the pop song. As opposed to growing tired of one of her songs, we’ve become tired of her as a person, and now she’s disposable.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll start writing my ‘Sorry you feel that way’ letters to her fans.
*I swear, I’m retiring magician analogies after this one. I’m aware two in two weeks is a bit much.