Lady Gaga soaks up our ancient heritage of Pop Music; myriads of memory-lane transfers can be spotted, if you look close enough. Gaga is a Mediterranean squishy-sponge, a mirror to her heroes, on her freshman effort The Fame. The gallery of influences read like The Book of Who’s Who.
The oval portraits of David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, The B-52s, Madonna, Queen, Abba, Blondie, The Village People and Andy Warhol are ragbag pop-ups on your ipod, as you crank up tu Gaga, and gyrate or flip-flop intimately in your garbage dump of a cozy flat.
Lady Gaga is a genius. She’s the Donna Summers of the Twenty-First Century. Lady Gaga is a post-modern, bubble-popping Valley Girl that refuses to take the soft and easy exit off the Pop-Interstate. She’s a fast lane party queen who will not vacate the discotheque, just go home and do her plebian chores. She wants it all, and she gets it all!
Lady Gaga is our discotheque diva with a plethora of funny hats to spare, tilted microphone ball and moth-eaten grunts and groans are her tools of the trade, a princess pixie that struts and frets on the synthetic stage of superficial disco-life. She is a Dionysian Cultist one hundred percent of the way.
Gaga’s outer-spacely exhalations will beat you over the noggin’ with floppy-hat resonances and extracurricular libidos. You must pull back a bit (to an Apollonian balance) or you will fall into her dankly dungeon of demons and dragons, or trip on her dusty disco balls yanked outta storage.
The songwriting is flawless, actually quite sophisticated. The arrangements, and we must give RedOne credit here, are very modern, with snappy synthesizers, crunchy guitars and expressive, over-the-top vocals. Not too much, not too little. I have paid humble homage to ten songs here, just offering you my simple intuitions and impressions. Little else. So without further ado, I give you the sensation of our century, the belle of the disco ball, Lady Gaga!
Lovegame is a perfect expression of Gaga’s thesis of how fame, love and sex all blend together in harmony, in synthesia, while the disco ball spins out of control, to the end of triumphal crowning in the colliseum of Rome. If this confuses you, it does the same to me.
In Gaga’s world the discotheque is our theater for the successful completion of the American Dream. In this cul de sac universe disco music, love, sex, power, and fame are all one and the same. Don’t ask me how?
As an example, this was true, you might see, in the ’70s with Studio 54, Andy Warhol and the Village People. When you arrived at the disco magic would happen and your dreams would come true, or you would believe that they would come true. Delusional? Yes. Gaga is just a revivalist for this pipedream of the past, and people are taking the bait without probing too harshly its origin?
Let’s have some fun this beat is sick I want to take a ride on your disco stick. Best line is: I got my ass squeezed by Cupid. Gaga sings this as if she has a huge wad of bubblegum in her mouth. One mammoth, primitive lick pulses through the teeny-bop sonic boom of chewing gum smackin,’ huh. Devo. The games of ancient Rome. Hot sex play in the big disco arena of the Golden Apple, Lower East Side.
Middle America must be shocked to learn of these dins of iniquity, discotheques are the Garden of Eden ten fold. Sinners eat designer drugs and shake their booty with abandon on hard wood floors (or maybe it’s tile).
Pagan pageantry with wordplay panoply: I’m on a mission and it involves some heavy touching, yeah. Can’t take away from that desire, the passion to float like cream to the top, nothin’ can stop her. She’ll get hers yet. We’re just peons waving to our Lady Pompadour on display in her make-believe parade.
Poker Face has the wittiest lyrics of all. It has been alleged that it’s a testimonial of bisexuality. That could be, but it still works without that implication. Nobody can really know what Lady Gaga is thinking. When she is on stage she is the guardian of her own impulses: I’ll get him hot show him what I got.
This one has a jerky rhythm, and gobs of primordial vocal effusions. Sweeping keyboard production by RedOne. The metaphor is that the romantic field is like a poker game. You have to play it cool when you are out there playing the field. Right outta Ovid’s Art of Love. Gaga is our Sappho strumming her lyre in the discotheques of New York City.
Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) is melodic synth-pop number with an edge of regret over how the cards have fallen, romantically speaking. The higher registers of the keyboard are louder in the mix, with Gaga oozing guttural pronouncements of a libidinous proclivity. Cherry cherry boom boom.
This props up the song and makes it an innuendo out the window, that cajoles and charms us. It tickles like a feather duster on the nose when your hands are full of pulp. The pop-diva knows how to titillate! Finally, it sounds like she could care less about the break up, another good excuse for her to write a hit pop-song; Gaga pulls it off.
Bang bang we’re BEAUTIFUL and DIRT RICH. Beautiful Dirty Rich is a chant like Give Peace a Chance, where words take on a different meaning than they ordinarily would take on. Beautiful and dirty are interchangeable and words are acoustical chunks of rhythm, musical props like bang bang shoot like rockets from your speakers, with a funk guitar chang-a-langin’ riffs in your right ear.
Speculating, but once Gaga gets into her party cove, she’s rich in sex, even though she and her kooky friends are lacking in material gratification. Nonetheless, they have lots of spirit and a bottomless zeal that only youth can know; in this seedy scene, partying is crusty, but rich in the ritual of this frenzied (alternative) life style. It makes no sense, but it is clear as daylight when you have your headset jacked up to eleven! Supertramp was that way!
The Fame is puritanical pagan lust for popularity. It’s as if Lady Gaga is forging and predicting her own success. She wants it. She will do anything to get it. Anything. Clever song. Less about melody and more about the bump and shuffle, synchronizing of rhythm guitar with the drum machine. Aggressive synthesizers grind out the ‘will to power’ on the verse.
Gaga is Andy’s Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Debbie Harry packaged in one pretty gift wrap. Uses a Laurie Anderson voice synthesizer thingy effectively towards the cusp. I can see Gaga springin’ forth from a towering birthday cake with a Carmen Miranda fruitie hat on and flyin’ ’round the stage, it’s larger than life! The pagan punch of Cleopatra and the discotheque frenzy of Donna Summers are cosmetically glued together at mid-hip.
Joanne Stefani Germanotta has included two poems in the booklet that goes with The Fame album. For A Moment is a funny one about a walk in the rain where the author encounters a cute little bunny rabbit with a curious look on his fuzzy face. As she meanders through more rain she comes upon a family of ducks.
The narrator has an epiphany as her face is splashed with pure raindrops. There and then she finds her way. I like this incidental Doctor Seuss/Lewis Carroll/The Brothers Grimm fairy tale intermingled with the song lyrics. It shows another dimension to Gaga, that she’s both literary and a princess of poesy too.
Boys Boys Boys is a I like you a lot lot all we want is hot hot Joan Jett direct to tape rock vibe. Catchy chorus: we like boys in cars buy us drinks in bars. Gaga sings in a working class voice, unadorned with a Jersey accent.
Instruments by Red One with a convergence of bassy, thumpy synthesizers and clap tracks. Melodic, but disco dance beats. Fave line: Don’t forget my lipstick I left in your ashtray .Good trashy get down feel. Real rock & roll, but in a synth pop skin.
Brown Eyes is the one slower sensitive love ballad. The guitars make this one with a staccato squeeze play.. When it goes to chorus it get Queenie. Everything was everything But baby it’s the last show Everything could be everything But it’s time to say goodbye, so.
It’s a sad one about breaking up. Gaga gets tough in the last verse and lets the Brown eyed boy know the gig up. I like the way The Lady keeps putting records on during the album, as if we can experience the mysteries of life vicariously through pop art. That’s her thing!
I Like it Rough is just another component of the kinky-glamorous-rich-and-famous life style that only Our Lady can trip on. ‘Cause it’s a hard life With love in the world And I’m a hard girl Loving me is like straightening curls. Slower dance tune. With creaky, flanged synth part in the left ear. Drum machine groove way up in the mix.
Macho Joan Jet lyrics, just wants to cause trouble Gaga. Blue collar. Violent? Maybe, but this is a clever contrivance to shock and awe. Light S & M that titillates with voice synth. Gimmick effort with humor underneath. Wouldn’t take it too seriously. Gaga may be hitting the clubs too hard, but my goodness, she’s only twenty-two years old!
Summerboy reminds me of the first time I heard Parallel Lines by Blondie. I have recollections of Heart of Glass. Nice beat and melody, voice goes soprano, guitars crack fire and bass punches ears with snap, crackle and pop. Voyeurism, recreational sex with snappy words and drum kit clap tracks. Bridge Debbie Harry all the way. Hey there SUMMERBOY I’m taking off my heals. Wild, but just innocent, senseless fun.
Cupid’s got you with his Bow and Arrow. Disco Heaven is a bonus track on my itunes download. It’s a newer one from the EP The Fame Monster. This one will sweep you off your feet and toss you on to the dance floor.
Ripping doubled guitar and pulsating disco beat, more production and enough reverb to shoot ya to the stars. A talk part, again very Blondie-esque. Target for the electronic market; not a repeat of Just Dance, but its black sheep cousin by way of genre.
On the surface it seems as if Lady Gaga is condoning every vice that has ever cropped up since The Fall From Grace by the one and only Adam and Eve. Gaga takes a big bite out of the juicy green apple and licks her chops while slurping down the natural nectar of the Gods. Not that she is really a heathen or anything, she may in fact be a perfectly good and faithful little Catholic girl.
But she has a rich imagination, an Id as big as a beachball, and her fancy just comes out, her abundance of creativity overflows (her cup runneth over), and titillates us out of our comfort zones and into the battle zones of rat-race romance. It’s no different than the Malt Shake teasers of early rock ‘n’ roll, of the 1950s; it actually emulates that scene quite nicely.
Lady Gaga is only a furtherance (granted, she’s a mutation) of the American Dream. Greed, lust and fame are the ultimate manifestations of this dream, and by default lose such characteristics as sinfulness or earmarks of any kind of wrong doing. After all, the American Dream is by definition Pagan and Pre-Christian. This may shock you, but Lady Gaga gets it, she absorbed it naturally in her music education. I get it too, so let it go.