Is it the 1970s again? Is that a Disco Ball over yonder? Forget Madonna’s Express Yourself! How ’bout Donna Summer’s On the Radio as a comparison to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Has Gaga resurrected this stodgy genre? It looks that way. Afterall, Electropop was born with Disco; Gaga is simply dusting off these 12″ vinyl singles and spinning em on her Monster turntable.
These impressive sales on itunes are a clear sign that the public is ready to escape back to Studio 54 and get hypnotize on the spinning glittery disco ball. But just listen to the Lady’s voice and compare it to Donna Summer’s. Remarkable similarities. Then listen to the drum beat, pure Gloria Gaynor or Village People. And check out that cheesy sampling of the drum track, wasn’t that used on A Fifth of Beethoven?
As far as the pro-gay lyrics go, this magically mirrors the emergence of Disco, actually in the late 1960s, that reacted negatively to the patriarchal counterculture, which was dominated by the heterosexual mainstream genre of Rock. Moreover, Rock was reactionary to Dance Music, so Disco takes up the trumpet and pulls out the Ruby-Red Slippers of body motion, and so many Munchkins without a home.
This is what Lady Gaga is doing as well. And as where the Have Nots, such as Gays and especially women, found an outlet of expression in Disco, so Gaga is tapping into that same socio-economic phenomenon. Along with the age-old desire to escape economic and social tyranny, such as the current Recession imposes, Gaga is farming a refined strain of these moribund forms, that still have a gram of life left in em.
Gaga’s Catholic embrace of her Monster throngs is a messianic flash of marketing brilliance, as so much smeared eye-liner or ticker-tape parade confetti. Furthermore, there’s a vacuum in Pop Music right now that a Mack truck could easily drive through. Gaga can capture sales readily since there’s no competition. Revival of the past is the name of the game, and LG knows that. She has the dance floor all to herself!
My proof of the above thesis is the 53d Grammy Awards, which I wisely recorded. Gaga’s performance of Born This Way stole the show! Nothing else is worth watching except LG emerging from an egg, and the translucent yellow raincoat with hat was mind-boggling. The dance number itself, with male chorus, was dazzling – Dancing With the Stars is a joke in comparison.
My favorite part was Gaga at the organ as a Disco Queen Phantom of the Opera playing JSB’s Toccata and Fugue, with hair whipped up to look like Willow Smith. An eclectic display of whimsical five finger discount.
Yet Gaga is never guilty of plagiarism, she makes it (everything) her own. Disco is reinvented in the Twentieth-First Century! And dance and fashion join her in music “You became a legend on the Silver Screen. And now the thought of leaving you makes me weak in the knees.”
Come to think of it, I heard Sir Paul kicked up his heels at a recent Monster Ball. Let’s wait for the cash register to stop ching-a-linging, before we fully define what this LG Disco-Revival is telling us. Maybe Americans need to escape all these wars, financial woes, unemployment, or could it be they see these out-of-date genres as worthy of resurrection, since history often repeats itself?
When the same set of circumstances impose themselves in a duplicate historical context, a wise one in the world of pop will emerge from the cinders of destruction. Picture the Fab Four on Ed Sullivan less than three months after JFK was shot in Dallas. The Bump or the Penguin, anyone?