Lady Gaga is changing pop music and culture.
When she appeared in the mainstream with The Fame back in 2008, I thought she was just another weirdo who got all flashy for the camera, hot on the heels of every other neo-glam 80′s excess kickback artist that was (and is to some extent) dominating the charts. Her songs were catchy, somewhat crude, but ultimately forgettable. Her music videos were also somewhat weird, but understandable and fairly common fare.
Paparazzi changed that.
Paparazzi was a video that was raw, disturbing, and full of a fairly subversive narrative. Gaga then took this narrative to the stage at the MTV Music Awards where copious amounts of fake blood were on stage at its finale. It was gross and provocative, and Gaga had found an empty niche left by Manson and the Shock Rock of the late 90s.
Then The Fame Monster came out.
Bad Romance, followed by Telephone and now Alejandro, are showing a progression into the various themes of abuse, power, prostitution, and taboos that are now really getting people’s attention. Everyone’s locked in to what is being shown in these videos (734,586,919 views on Youtube as of writing).
Looking back, it’s hard not to see a master plan here. With The Fame, her first videos seem like forays into pop star tropes that saturate the industry. These are capped by what is almost surely the most disturbing paparazzi trope video/song ever created. A song that made everyone turn their heads. It is at this point that things get subversive. Gaga’s latest over-sexed, violent, profane, and nearly unintelligible music videos seem to be revealing a dark and twisted world under the pristine guise of pop music. She’s changing and reforming the industry by pushing it to its limits. And to some extent, this is a good thing.
Lady Gaga a good thing? Let’s set a little straight first. The music itself isn’t really different from anyone else. Her music videos are not appropriate for children, but neither has anything anyone else has done in the past 10 years very appropriate either. The difference is that Gaga is not pulling any punches on any level, making everyone uncomfortable. Because we were sucked into The Fame, The Fame Monster has got us. That monster is feeding on us, dragging us into a world where Madonna and Marilyn Manson had a kid named Gaga. Too much sex, too much violence – something has got to give, and soon.
When will that be? Where is rock-bottom? I don’t know. I’m looking forward to it, though, because when you hit the bottom, the only thing to do is go back up.