A friend e-mailed me a few nights ago and asked what I thought of Lady Gaga. I gave my usual reply, which is that her music is awesome, but I can't stand her "schtick." You know what I'm talking about.... the outrageous costumes, the in-your-face videos, the political statements (even though I agree with most all of them): I just want her to perform her really cool music, and leave it at that. Oh, and she can host SNL again, too. She was pretty good at it last month.
One of the things I like about Gaga's music (aside from its solid structure and melody, and her stunning vocals), is that it harkens back to cheesy '80s pop/dance music. Seriously. She owes a lot to Madonna and her contemporaries. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Gaga's music is the perfect meld of yesterday's sound with today's electronics.
But the other aspect of '80s pop music culture that Gaga rips from, and that I don't like, is her over-the-top costumery. And that kind of takes me aback, to be honest. You see, I fondly remember the 1980s as a time when musical artists were unafraid to look different, to be their own person. Remember the cool make-up Duran Duran? The wacky outfits and hairstyles of Cyndi Lauper? Who can forget Boy George's androgyny leading the way on Culture Club? And, of course, Prince (yes, he may be more toned-down today, but there's no forgetting his looks from the '80s).
Lady Gaga embraces and embodies all of the aforementioned artists, yet, I dunno.... even I realize that the '80s have come and gone. Reinventing the music is one thing, but for some reason I just think that the 'look' of the 1980s doesn't translate as well to today's pop landscape -- especially when there's really only one person doing it (oh, and Justin Bieber, I guess. That Victor/Victoria drag act he's been doing since his career began is rather admirable).
At any rate, I hope Lady Gaga keeps the fantastic music coming for a long, long time. Her over-the-top schtick, though? Not so much.