The beginning of the end for GaGa?
For almost three years now, Lady GaGa has reigned supreme as the multi-million selling iconic pop star of the age. She has launched four of her first six singles to the top of the UK charts, sold over 12 million copies worldwide of her first album The Fame/The Fame Monster and is still on the epically successful and hugely long Monster Ball Tour. Love her or hate her, the success and buzz around everything GaGa does is something quite spectacular. Having produced credible, edgy dance tracks such as ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Paparazzi’ and establishing herself as a vocally gifted musician, as well as writer, the mind boggles when hearing the first two singles released from her new album, the hugely hyped, Born This Way.
In February you’d have been hard pushed not to have heard ‘Born This Way’- the first brand new single from GaGa since ‘Bad Romance’, which hit #1 in December 2009. The difference between these two tracks could not be bigger. ‘Bad Romance’ had edge and originality. It captured people when they heard it for the first time and appealed to a mass audience. ‘Born This Way’ is a very camp disco track, suitable for Eurovision in the 90s. It’s difficult not to start singing Madonna’s 1989 hit ‘Express Yourself’ when listening to ‘Born This Way’. Since shooting to fame, GaGa has recruited an army of very loyal followers, her monsters. These fans are passionately standing up for their icon on forums around the net claiming that everyone wants to see Lady GaGa fail, but that simply is not true. I personally was a fan of her work and found her to be an exceptional performer, until I heard ‘Born This Way’, when my respect began to wane. The video of the song is even worse than the song itself, featuring GaGa as ‘Mother Monster’. All that comes across from the video is a huge amount of deeply unpleasant yonic imagery, an uninventive dance routine and most of all - Lady GaGa’s new God complex. For a song as trashy and throw away as ‘Born This Way’, it is alarming to see the start taking herself so seriously and proclaiming herself to be this God-like figure.
Cut to April and ‘Judas’ hits the airwaves. Just when your respect for Lady GaGa was beginning to decline, it is suddenly whacked full force with a shovel and threatened to be buried forever. What is ‘Judas’ other than a rip off of ‘Bad Romance’, flat and incoherent verses and a chorus that is even more 90s and unremarkable than ‘Born This Way’? It’s as if the superstar is deliberately sabotaging her own success, which maybe she is? The positive message and equality she goes on about all the time, is no bad thing, but people will not listen to what she has to say if she continues to create music that is forgettable and laughable. ‘Born This Way’ did experience success in terms on sales, hitting #1 in the USA for six weeks and #3 in the UK. However, you would expect this from a single that has been hyped for six months and goes on sale before it is even played on the radio. I was at the gym and saw on Itunes on my Iphone that the track was available to buy and so blindly downloaded the single for 99p, having every faith that it would be brilliant. I listened and was quite literally dumbfounded. Fortunately I did not make this mistake with ‘Judas’, and waited to hear the track. It looks as though other people learned from their mistakes too, as ‘Judas’ limped to #9 in the UK chart and #10 in the USA and is currently sitting at #23 and #12 and is falling rapidly in both Itunes charts.
The album, Born This Way, should be a massive hit worldwide, and it no doubt will be the favourite album of the year to however many millions of monsters. For the rest of us however, it does not look likely that Lady GaGa is on the road to creating another pop classic. I will be listening when it arrives, and I hope I will like it, but from the car crashes of the songs so far, the videos and Lady GaGa’s apparently ever-decreasing sanity, it does not look promising.
James Christopher Sheppard is a London based freelance writer. For more of his music journalism, poetry and blogging, visit his website Intellectual Intercourse. http://www.jameschristophersheppard.wordpress.com