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Opinion: Lady Gaga’s enigmatic facade got old

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This is part of a weekly series called in which The Lantern’s Ty Anderson offers his take on the week’s pop culture news.

tytalks

My earliest memories of Lady Gaga stem from my mother. By many accounts, my mother is a relatively normal individual. She cooks, she cleans, she scrapbooks. In many ways, she’s like any other mom. But there was a dark time. A solid set of three years when Mom referred to me solely as “Alejandro.” In the wee hours of the morning, she would tiptoe down the hallway, enter my bedroom, slowly fade up the lights and wake me up for school with a deep, creaking “rah-rah-ah-ah-ah.” Her phone played “Telephone” every time it rang, and she danced to “Born This Way” as she drove me to school each morning.

She would stay up well into the night watching Lady Gaga music videos on repeat. Never mind the fact that she couldn’t sing a single lyric correctly from any Gaga songs: She loved the bold beats, the flashy costumes and the wild and unmistakable persona that was Lady Gaga.

But as much as my mother loved Lady Gaga, it wasn’t an obsession she wanted to share with me.

Mom was not a strict parent. She never held back when a string of swear words was in order, she never asked where I was going when I left the house, and she never once expected me to look away during that scene in “Titanic.” But there was something about Lady Gaga, some sort of taboo mystery that lit a fire in my mom.

Historically, Lady Gaga isn’t the most relatable celebrity. Lady Gaga is the stage name of Stefani Germanotta, a fact you’d have never known a few years back. Gaga lived and breathed her stage persona. As far as the public was concerned, there was nothing behind the ghoulish dance moves, the meat dresses and sexual overtones, except for more ghoulish dance moves, more meat dresses and more sexual overtones.

Lady Gaga was a fascination. A puzzling pop phenomenon in a world with a short attention span.

In time, the act got old. As morbidly interesting as it was to watch for what Gaga would do next, it became a chore once the world realized that none of it made any sense.

As a society, we value people to whom we can relate. Look at the celebrities who are constantly making headlines, the ones with the most fans and the biggest followings. Look at Jennifer Lawrence. Look at Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Ellen Degeneres. The people who let us into their everyday lives are the ones that are most universally liked. Even though we’ve never met them, we believe that we know everything about them.

For instance, I know that Taylor Swift was born on December 13, 1989. She has two cats, Meredith and Olivia. Her childhood best friend is named Abigail, she enjoys drinking whiskey sours, her brother’s name is Austin and she loves to bake (she made the most delicious looking cinnamon eggnog-frosted chai sugar cookies last September. I believe it was the 29th).

Taylor doesn’t know who I am and would likely file for a restraining order if she knew how much time I invest in Google-searching various aspects of her life. But thankfully she does not know, and so I can continue pretending that she and I are close personal friends with a bond based in mutual understanding and respect.

But I could never do that with Lady Gaga. No matter how much I could have tried, I would have never known Gaga the way I know Taylor, because Gaga didn’t let people in. She insisted on maintaining the mystery. And that’s why people got bored. The over-the-top vocals and friggin-weird outfits that gave birth to her fame were ultimately what dug her grave.

Her last major album, “ARTPOP,” was not-so-lovingly nicknamed “ARTFLOP” with critics calling the songs uncreative and boring. She then went on to record some obscure jazz album with Tony Bennett, and she subsequently went into hiding for like six months (or so it seems).

After years of media-frenzied performances, Lady Gaga has recently taken more conservative roles in the public spotlight, including duets with Tony Bennett and singing music from 'The Sound of Music' at the 2015 Grammys. Credit: Photos courtesy of TNS

After years of media-frenzied performances, Lady Gaga has recently taken more conservative roles in the public spotlight, including duets with Tony Bennett and singing music from ‘The Sound of Music’ at the 2015 Grammys.
Credit: Photos courtesy of TNS

Enter 2015. We’ve seen Lady Gaga get engaged. We’ve seen Lady Gaga appear on the red carpet in a “normal” gown, with normal make-up and normal hair. We’ve seen her perform, stripped from any facades, overwhelming backbeats and flashing lights. We’ve seen Lady Gaga for what she is — a human, rather than a freak show.

Ironically, the latest news for Gaga is her inclusion in the upcoming 5th season of “American Horror Story.”

I was a little nervous when I heard word of her involvement, but I think it makes sense. Lady Gaga has a background in theater. Despite my mother’s attempted censorship, I have seen Gaga’s music videos (sorry, Mom), and she does know how to act. Heck, she’s spent the majority of her career “acting.” She very well might fit perfectly within the series.

Anyway, AHS had a rough season this past year with an unorganized storyline and unlikable characters. In my unprofessional opinion, the upcoming season is the make-or-break moment for Ryan Murphy’s once-beloved horror anthology. But more importantly, I believe that it’s the make-or-break moment for Gaga. Her career has had a rocky couple of years, and AHS season 5 will either bring her back to the surface of pop culture relevance, or seal her tomb.

Is this natural career progression, or is Gaga aware of her fleeting popularity and attempting to rekindle it? I’m not sure, and this could very likely be some sort of last-ditch effort to rebrand herself in an ever-changing industry. But nevertheless, I’m excited to see where it leads. Who knows, maybe Gaga will pull a reverse-Miley and flip from singing to acting. Only time will tell.

24 comments

  1. Tyler obviously does not understand Lady Gaga as an artist or a person if he calls what she does a freak show. Hard to take this piece seriously.

  2. This article is crap

  3. the only thing that needs to be sealed in a tomb is this article. It is trash

  4. Virginia Farabee

    I’l l start by saying that this comment comes from a like perspective. this being,” I am your mother” but the message that I enjoy passing on to my kids with the love of her music is the anti-bullying and the ever-changing ability to be ever changing. Like you said the industry is constantly changing and one must change with it to stay relevant. I believe that this is a very large strength that Lady Gaga has. I believe that she has let us into her everyday life,and I believe that most everyone can closely relate with many of the things that Lady Gaga herself has gone through. The one thing that I truly like is that her music is from the heart she writes it something that you could be singing in the shower to yourself put a really sick beat to it and just like that you have great creativity Born from nothing more then some birds in the park and some blueberry cream cheese and a cigarette could muster up over coffee. Its,simply being decisive and brave.

  5. It’s easy to beat up a person but difficult to offer an honest assestmenton a very talented person like Gaga. Listen to her jazz and you will be blown away on how beautiful she sounds. This is a trash article

  6. if your mom wouldn’t let you watch her videos, why do you think you’re qualified to write an article about her? terrible article.. write about what you know.

  7. Jeez! Completely superficial observation of Gaga. Essentially from afar with no real research (as he stated). Just a listen to her Howard Stern interviews will illuminate on many levels, but he seems more interested in Taylor’s cats. So be it. I’ll take the density of talent, meaning and heart that Gaga offers.

  8. Um… The kid writing this article is an idiot. So yeah.. Um… Go away forever? Mmmk? Thx, bye

  9. I’m angry at myself for reading the whole thing. I just thought it would be a joke. Obviously this author is clueless but how does an article so lame even get published?

  10. Gaga has opened up a lot about her personal life LONG before now. And that “obscure jazz album” she recorded with Tony Bennett just won a Grammy.

    This article is bad and you should feel bad.

  11. Yeah, it’s unheard of that an artist transforms, or “reinvents” as their career goes on. And if you think her popularity is waning, crawl out from under the rock you’re living under. Or maybe it’s your obvious Taylor Swift obsession that is clouding your view.

  12. Terrible article, delete it immediately.

  13. Delete this

  14. Pitting female celebrities is a really old and tired ploy. In this case, putting down Gaga to make Taylor Swift look good, how boring. Get a life.

  15. Haven’t you quite literally written articles about how women are treated poorly in the entertainment industry? Contradict yourself more please

  16. Way to pit female superstars against each other.. again!!!! this article is cringeworthy

  17. LITERALLY WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT IN THIS ARTICLE. You clearly have no knowledge on Lady Gaga so why would you choose to write an article on the subject. This would be like writing an article in favor of Kanye West and then saying Jay Z is tired because his releases haven’t been as relevant. The point that made me most angry and you accusing Gaga of never letting anyone into her life. She posts daily, she’s done countless interviews, she puts themes right in her own music. I don’t know many facts about Katy Perry but that doesn’t mean she opens up any less than Lady Gaga, I;m just not as involved with her.

    OH MY GOD I seriously can’t even believe this is an article in a school publication. I’m most frustrated with like the thought of “WHO CARES?” You make no valid points, Beyonce doesn’t let anyone into her daily life any more than any other pop star. So what Gaga is actually doing successful things after a mediocre album cycle… I swear if you have a weekly column I will give up on all journalism. Your mom is definitely 800 times cooler than you are.

  18. I agree with the comments that said this article is trash. And I disagree.. Lady Gaga has let more people into her life than any other pop star. I feel her popularity only began to waver when the mystery went away. Not the other way around like Tyler seems to think. He clearly is not educated on the subject of Gaga at all. I think he should stick to writing articles about Taylor Swift.

    I also agree your mom is cooler than you.

  19. The comments are more entertaining and informative to read than this whole article.

  20. Gaga is a no-joke singer , musical entertainer and vocalist. Time and again, she has
    proven her prowess on-and-off the stage, and you don’t get a recording pass with
    Tony and a serious hug from Julie unless you can approximate the Lady.

  21. Tyler, you have your 15 minutes of dame…now please go away and take your trash article with you. It is boring.

  22. So many celebs have their high and low points but why is it with Gaga, everyone, especially haters and those who don’t get her are so quick so say she’s over just because her latest album didn’t do so well? And why does every single next step she makes has to make or break her? People don’t ever say that when Madonna, Britney, Christina A or Beyonce were flopping with their records, more than once, but with Gaga it’s like a different story. Is she held by different standards?

  23. Try, maybe when mummy offers words of wisdom you might possibly listen? Or, better yet, journalism school. Full, part time, on line, who cares, something is bound to rub off. At least enough so someone just may want to finish your bits of wisdom. Good luck.

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