Lady Gaga

By: Douglas Wolk
March 28, 2010

I’m just going to go ahead and pronounce the “Telephone” video by LADY GAGA (born 1986) and Beyoncé the most impressive avant-garde film of 2010: nine and a half minutes of glorious, relentless WTF, all the star-power and spectacle and verfremdungseffekt of a Matthew Barney movie with zero tolerance for boringness. Every shot begs to be unpacked in a master’s dissertation. If an artist is someone who has license to do what the rest of us only dream of doing, Gaga has taken on the challenge of doing what most other artists only dream of doing: out-Madonnaing Madonna; dressing so magnificently that it was possible to compile a list of her “100 hottest outfits of 2009”; commissioning Beyoncé to far outshine her on her own song; treating the most mean-spirited rumor about her like it’s absolutely hilarious; successfully selling a deliberate, loving, and merciless parody of mass culture as the thing itself. Everything she does is worthy of rapt attention, with the possible exception of her actual music.

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What do you think?

  1. I think you’re a little too easy on her newest video and a little too hard on her music, but I wholeheartedly believe Lady Gaga to be a bright spot on the spectrum of contemporary culture. We’ll never know if she’s genuine or just shtick, but it’s none of our business, and there’s much to be gained from her output. Great profile of one of today’s most fascinating artists.

  2. This is great, I love Lady Gaga’s explorations of artifice, but find her more or less unlistenable. But more acute ears than mine have made the effort, and there are some rewards – check out this cover of “Telephone” by the duo Pomplamoose http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vEStDd6HVY (thanks to @MatthewBattles for the link)!

  3. I kinda saw it as a test: a) do I think the music actually sucks and b) if it does suck, does that matter, given that the schtick is so intelligent, perverse, and glorious?

    The test was not about *answering* these questions but about whether it was OK or even right to *ask* these questions. If it was OK or even right, then I no longer living in the postmodern moment of the 1990s. Which I am not. But b) still stuck in my craw.

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