Sunday, May 22, 2011

I do not get Lady Gaga

I do not 'get' Lady Gaga in any way, shape, or form. Is she good? I don’t know. Can she sing? I think so. Is she attractive? Um, I’m not really sure. There is just nothing about this woman I can wrap my mind around. I tried once again last night to understand her while she performed at Saturday Night Live, but I was left further mystified.

In case you didn’t see SNL last night, it was the season finale, and Justin Timberlake was the host and Lady Gaga was the musical guest. She performed twice and showed up in a few sketches, including the SNL Digital Short. Justin Timberlake, him, I understand. He would be completely cheesy if he wasn’t a tsunami of talent. I get that. He’s funny, smart, charismatic, good looking, stylish, the whole deal. Hate him if you want but it's true. His performance on SNL was the equivalent of Kobe Bryant saying, ‘Give me the ball and get out of my way.’ That’s what you can say (and do) when you’re the biggest talent in the room, a room that included Gaga, Jimmy Fallon, and Bradley Cooper.

But Gaga is just a plain puzzle to me. Her first SNL performance began with a piano piece in which she sang the phrase ‘I’m on the edge’ over and over again. Then the song switched into some crazy dance song, where she bounced around the stage (clearly lip singing) in some over-the-top outfit. Then it ended, and for the life of me I had no idea what I had just watched. Every time I get into this debate with Gaga fans (her little monsters), they all say to me, ‘Brian, you just don’t ‘get’ her music.’ OK, I can admit that, and I recognize that there’s supposed to be ‘something’ metaphorical happening, but I can’t make heads or tails of it. And I’m pretty sure Gaga’s A+ fans can’t sort through it either. How could they? It’s chaos. From my perspective: It had no rhyme or reason whatsoever. And I was REALLY looking, trying to connect.

Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s good, I mean, I ‘think’ so. I have Bad Romance and Poker Face on my I-Pod. Those are good songs, I guess. So I was ready to give this Gaga nonsense another run. Her second performance came at 12.40AM. Again, it was all over the place, and at one point, she put on a crazy body suit with a baby belly, gave birth on stage, and started tossing the orange afterbirth around herself and her backup dancers. Huh? Again, I’m assuming this is supposed to be a metaphor, and she did keep singing the lyric ‘I’m reborn,’ but it was too much theatrics for a plain old meat-and-potatoes guy like me. Yeah, I had no idea what the heck was going on. Give me the Stones and Marshall Tucker. Hell, I'd take Madonna's simplicity (simple in comparison to Gaga) at this point.

Gaga also showed up in a few sketches throughout the night, without the crazy masks, or wild outfits, or platform heels, but she was still completely bizarre, and kind of unsettling to watch. It’s almost like she isn’t entirely human. There is just nothing to grab onto with Gaga on that level. There’s always this element about her that makes you think her actual face and flesh is an outfit covering up something else. Is Gaga a visitor from another planet, or a Broadway act who’s crossed into pop music? She wins Grammy’s by the basket load, so her music is good, ah, I guess. She has millions of fans and plays sold-out shows, so people love her concerts, ah, I guess. She wears wild outfits on and off stage, things like meat dresses to protest ‘something,’ and people can relate to that, ah, I guess. Say what you want about Justin Bieber, say what you want about Justin Timberlake. But I understand their appeal. I can see how people could be fooled into relating to them on a human level.

That’s what the greatest entertainers do, in any medium, they make you (that’s right, you) think that you could do what they do, or could hang out with them, or relate to them. Don’t believe me? Ask anybody who works in PR. Madison Ave. is built on that crap. That’s what commercial slogans, and soft-drink ads, and talk-show circuits are geared towards. Relate to Middle America. But Gaga is literally like something from another planet, and even if she can sing, dance, and do all that, who can be SO into her? SO into her that she sells millions and millions of albums and concert tix. You're probably thinking Michael Jackson was like that too. You know: Whacko Jacko. True, he was. But when Billie Jean or Beat it came on the radio there was no mistaking: This is the greatest pop performer ever, and that I get, whacko Jacko or not. But Gaga. I could never imagine going anywhere near a Gaga concert.

I've seen her on talk shows, and I don't get it. I’ve seen her perform half a dozen times on TV and award shows, etc, and I don't get it. I try to like it every time, but at some point you have to stop and ask, ‘Can somebody please explain what is going on here?’ And if that’s what you are asking, I don’t see how you can fully relate to anything she does, on and/or off stage.

SNL from last night:

Can somebody please explain why I only have 5 friends on Facebook @ the Cat’s Pajamas?

Brian Huba

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