Monday, August 19, 2013
On Lady Gaga, "Applause," and the Expiration of Shock Art
In case you need some nightmare fodder...that Gaga Swan! I love Lady Gaga, but I'm worried that she's locked herself in a "shock box." She reminds me of Marilyn Manson--and not just because from certain angles, she looks like she could be his sister. Manson just wants to write songs about drugs and his latest break-up, like any other musician, but his identity is too tied up in the make-up and "alternate, unedited" versions of his videos featuring little people who snort cocaine while riding taxidermied animals as MM himself chews shards of broken glass. If he stripped himself of all that nonsense and released an acoustic album as "Brian Warner," now THAT would be shocking.
Gaga has practically stripped herself down to her skeleton, and we've seen her naked as a jaybird, but it still doesn't feel like we've seen her soul. Her music has never been as innovative as her visual presentation. She produces catchy pop music that you want to dance to at clubs with your gay BFF. (If you're 23 or under. Once you start creeping towards your 30s, fuck it--you just want to stay in and watch TV.) The music seems to be supplemental to the sexy horrorshow imagery. Around the time of "The Fame" and "The Fame Monster," it seemed that she was a pop star who was at least doing something different and interesting. She may still be half-naked and twerking, but at least she's surrounded herself with little people snorting cocaine while riding taxidermied animals as she chews shards of broken glass. Two albums later, and it feels repetitive and, sadly, boring.
Like Amanda Palmer, Gaga is trying so hard to MAKE ART. Art is certainly not effortless, but it should LOOK effortless. Maybe it's the disconnect between the dance-y pop music and the desperate need to make it all look significant. Maybe she's not going far enough...that Gaga head on a swan body is TOO MUCH, however. Maybe she should focus her considerable talent away from songs about her cell phone and being famous and give us a glimpse of the REAL Stefani Germanotta.
I won't lie, though, the "hands bra" in this video for "Applause" is incredible.