Why I’m Sick Of Lady Gaga

It’s hard to believe that only two years ago very few people in America knew who Lady Gaga was, because now nobody can shut the fuck up about her. Her first single, “Just Dance,” was released in April 2008, but it took a long time—nine months—to reach #1. The real Lady Gaga phenomenon didn’t start in earnest until 2009, when she seemingly had a new single on the radio every week (and that’s only a slight exaggeration: In 2009, “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “LoveGame,” “Paparazzi,” and “Bad Romance” all spent time in the Billboard Top 10).

But sheer quantity of radio play doesn’t qualify anyone for “phenomenon” status these days—after all, who still listens to the radio? But Lady Gaga has become culturally significant in a way most pop stars only dream about. People care about her and have an opinion about her in a way they don’t about, say, Beyoncé. Even people who don’t really like pop music find themselves compelled by Lady Gaga. I, for one, feel like I’ve had more conversations about Lady Gaga in the past year than I’ve had about all other musical acts put together. I would even go so far to say that she’s “polarizing,” except that I don’t really feel like there is a sizable anti-Gaga pole. Nevertheless, her fans often have the passion and fervor of zealots needing to defend their messiah from some threatening albeit nonexistent opposition.Now, I should probably clarify before I go any further that I do not dislike Lady Gaga. I’m not under the impression that she’s God’s gift to pop music or anything, but I like pretty much all the singles she’s released in the last two years, particularly “Just Dance” and “Paparazzi,” the latter of which is as interesting a pop song as has been released in the last year. I do not want her to stop making music or anything.

But right now I am sick to death of her.

My impatience runs deeper than mere backlash or weariness, though: I truly cannot understand why people find her so compelling. New York just ran a profile of her in which they compared her favorably to Bob Dylan, Madonna, and John Lennon. I don’t recall Rihanna garnering similar comparisons during her string of successful singles.

What draws people to Lady Gaga, of course, is her outsized and outlandish public persona. She wears garbage on her head and compares making music to “irresponsible, condomless sex.” She releases videos that involve magical spells and acts of ritualistic violence. She promotes her own bisexuality (even though, interestingly, none of her friends have known her to ever have a relationship with a woman) and actively affiliates herself with gay culture. She refuses to be addressed by her given name and answers only to Lady Gaga. She gives seemingly deliberately contradictory responses to interviewers. She was on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing nothing but bubbles. She seemingly thrived on rumors that she was a hermaphrodite, responding by saying, “I love androgyny.”

For many of her fans, all of these things seem to indicate that Lady Gaga is an “interesting” or “self-aware” pop artist; to me, it just indicates that Lady Gaga really, really wants our attention. People seem to be investing the things Lady Gaga does with way more meaning than they ought to have. Vanessa Grigoriadis, the author of the New York profile, is given to such grand statements like:

“Several different people have claimed credit for discovering Gaga…. But in another sense, she was an accident, a phenomenon that happened in New York in the first decade of a new century.”

And…

“The story of Gaga is a story of being young in New York City.”

And…

“Gaga also throws in our face something we’ve known all along but numbly decided to ignore: American celebrities have become very, very boring.”

But the real lesson of “the story of Gaga,” when you get right down it, is that it is actually the most boring of all. The story of Lady Gaga, when you get down to the details of her life, is the story of an upper-middle class girl from New York City who really wanted to become famous and, ultimately, did.

Lady Gaga herself, and profiles of her like the one written by Grigoriadis, perpetuate a different story—a Myth of Gaga—in which her fame becomes a reflection of the nature of celebrity itself. This is why Lady Gaga tells obvious lies like her claim to the AP in 2009 that she “always dressed” like she dresses now. Really, Gaga? You really always wore stuff like this, or like this, or like this? ALWAYS? I’m going to have to call bullshit on that. I’m pretty sure dressing like that would get you arrested.

But, of course, Lady Gaga has to maintain the Myth of Gaga—the myth that the things that she does to warrant enthusiasm are just natural extensions of her personality, and not deliberate ploys for attention. But according to Rob Fusari—who, granted, is not the best source, since he is suing Lady Gaga for $30 million by claiming he crafted her image—that look was decidedly contrived:

She liked leggings and sweatshirts, maybe with a shoulder out. “A couple times, she came to the studio in sweatpants, and I said, ‘Really, Stef?’” says Fusari. “‘What if I had Clive Davis in here today? I should call the session right now. Prince doesn’t pick up ice cream at the 7-Eleven looking like Chris Rock. You’re an artist now. You can’t turn this on and off.’”

Now, I’m not really inclined to take Fusari’s claim that he helped shape Lady Gaga’s image at face value, but I’m much more willing to believe the “leggings and sweatpants” story than the “chains and bondage outfits” story. After all, she seemed pretty normal in her 2005 appearance on Boiling Points.

Fusari’s account also fits the pattern the New York story establishes, of Gaga as someone willing to manipulate everything about her career in order to be famous. Originally, she wanted to be a rock star, modeling herself on John Lennon and Freddy Mercury; but when dance music proved to be a more likely path to success, she made the switch. If she’s willing to change musical styles for fame, then she’s probably willing to change her wardrobe.

Indeed, the more facts that come out about Lady Gaga, the more the Myth of Gaga seems to be quite obviously an act: She claims to have been an outcast growing up, even though, according to one classmate: “She was always popular. I don’t remember her experiencing any social problems.” She claims to be a bisexual and to have been addicted to cocaine, even though none of her friends can recall a relationship with another woman, or even seeing her use cocaine.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a musician fabricating a persona that is obviously an act. After all, John Lennon said things to the media that were deliberately controversial; Bob Dylan was intentionally and repeatedly cryptic and antagonistic in interviews; the diva to whom Gaga is most often compared, Madonna, rarely did anything that wasn’t consciously calculated. The difference, though, is that there was a raison dêtre behind the behavior of the other acts: Lennon felt obligated to use his platform to voice certain ideals, Dylan was trying to break the conception that the public had of him, and Madonna wanted to be consistently provocative. Lady Gaga, however, seems to perpetuate the Myth of Gaga only because she herself is not interesting. It’s more reminiscent of Vanilla Ice’s phony story about attending an all-black high school than anything else: A lie meant only for the sake of attracting more attention.

As far as I can tell, this desire for attention is the only guiding force behind Lady Gaga’s antics. She wears ridiculous outfits so people will look at her; she says contradictory and inflammatory things so people will talk about her; she responds to rumors directly and repeatedly so they stay in the news; she adopts causes and movements so that people will feel loyal to her and take her seriously. And she insists that she does all these things just because that is who she is so people won’t doubt her sincerity.

Lady Gaga’s fans maintain that her obsession with fame is really part of her own satire or a comment on fame itself. After all, Lady Gaga discusses fame and celebrity more often and more honestly than any other pop star—she even titled her albums, The Fame and The Fame Monster. But if she has a comment on fame, what’s the comment? That our culture is preoccupied with it? That celebrity comes from silly things? Well, obvs. The only real lesson I get from seeing Lady Gaga on TV or reading about her online is that she seems to really enjoy being famous. The only comment I see is a self-parody. Which would be sad, I guess, if it weren’t really, really boring.

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30 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by RTB on April 4, 2010 at 2:34 AM

    awesome article! i feel the same way about gaga and her persona. still love the songs though

    Reply

  2. Spot on.

    Reply

  3. thanks for the article. until this, i felt like i was the only one that saw her in that light. as a young musician myself, it seriously makes me crazy to know that this is what people like nowadays. and it makes me even crazier to know that i’ll never make it because i don’t want to be like that. i just wonder if someday soon, the world is going to wake up and see that she’s just a superficial version of madonna (which i honestly didn’t think was possible, no offense madonna).
    anyway, nice to know i’m not the only one. feel free to email me if you want to discuss anything, i’m open.

    Reply

  4. Totally.
    She ‘comments’ fame culture, but I can’t actually work out what she’s saying. It’s not ironic.

    She says anti-feminist things, whilst claiming to what to challenge the same double standards feminists do. She’s incredibly vapid and backed by a very clever team of PR and marketing people.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkzxwrdyRw0
    One only has to watch this interview to see where she falls flat when the journalist prods her to describe where her inspiration comes from and whether the highly sexualised content of her videos may detract from the music. She ends up saying, ‘I’ve sold x million records.’
    Terrible.

    Reply

    • Posted by Danmeister on December 16, 2010 at 12:30 PM

      Although I agree that Lady Gaga is being rather over-hyped, I don’t see your problem with her answer in the interview to which you referred. Surely, if asked “does the sexual content of your videos detract from the music”, to say “I’ve sold X million records” is a perfectly legitimate answer. It’s an arrogant answer, but a fair one. Truthfully, if people cared about the content of the videos enough not to have bought her albums/songs, she would not have had the success that she has.

      It seems to me that those who can enjoy someone’s music without worrying about their public profile should carry on listening to Gaga, while those who can’t stand the videos should, well, not listen to her.

      Reply

  5. Posted by GoShawdy on May 13, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    The weird thing is that adults talk so much about her when reality she’s just another teen pop idol. She’s all over Tiger Beat and other related magazines every time I go in the store. People are comparing her to Madonna, which is innacurate. She’s nothing more than all the Spice Girls composed into one person. Have people completely forgotten Geri, Mel B and their equally bizarre outfits?

    Reply

  6. […] There was a thoroughly impolite dustup over at The New York Times Magazine when Lynn Hirschberg wrote a profile of M.I.A. that M.I.A. found less than flattering. The musician decided to take to Twitter to note her objections, including posting an audio recording of who order the french fries in question. Hirschberg, understandably, did not appreciate M.I.A.’s antics, but said it wasn’t surprising. Anyway, if M.I.A. keeps taking shots at Lady Gaga, then you can guess where our allegiances lie. […]

    Reply

  7. Posted by Anonymous on June 11, 2010 at 8:25 PM

    people like her cuz she’s different.

    Reply

  8. […] is a mixed bag. Am I proud to be from the same country as the guy who wrote Pet Sounds? Sure. But am I proud of Lady Gaga? Hell no. And other countries have had some good bands and good writers and good TV shows as well (though […]

    Reply

  9. Posted by tony smith on July 18, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    everyones entitled to their own opinion…but thats just what it is an “opinion” and not a fact…if everyone felt the way that you do she wouldnot be a star…..

    Reply

    • Posted by Jesse on February 28, 2011 at 9:56 PM

      You are part of what”s wrong withg society. Since when does ‘fame’ automatically constitute as ‘talent’. Think of all the talented people that are overshadowed by big money and big industry. Companies push this stuff onto our throats, people don’t choose it after good musical education and research. Not even out of political ideaology.

      Reply

      • Thats true, but you have to admit Lady Gaga isn’t a pop tart who cant sing like britney spears or katy perry. she can sing play the piano and entertain. and also she is a very good perofrmer, thats also an importatnt thing because just having a good voice but being up on stage like a statue won’t get people liking you. you have to be creative.

        Reply

        • Posted by Also went to Tisch on May 24, 2013 at 5:16 PM

          Will you stop about the piano? EVERYONE can play piano, why can’t you? Has anyone ever sat Brit Brit or KP down at a piano and ASKED them to play in front of us? You Monsters will suffer an aneurysm when you see that they can.

          Piano is not that difficult. If Gaga could play cello, or guitar, fine then, she’s talented. But piano is the easiest instrument. I’ve played since age four. Once you’ve found middle C, and most babies can, the rest is simple.

          PS, I also went to NYU Tisch.

          Since I can also sing and play piano, then if I dress in raw meat, I deserve to be a star, right? Good grief.

          Reply

  10. Posted by Jennifer on July 25, 2010 at 5:00 AM

    Well, im kind of like Lady gaga but you my friend are totaly right i mean i think she is just famous cause she really would do anything just to be famous and she did, i dont think she is a genious in music or culture i think she is someone that really really needs our attention it doesnt matter what, i dont think madonna is anything special either if you ask me i think gaga is better cause at least she can sing you know that’s all i like about her, the rest is all publicity crap

    Reply

  11. Posted by Fred on August 15, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Illuminati puppet. The real problem though is once she’s finished wearing down the limits of what is acceptable for kids follow, what’s next? Also, its quite comical to hear everyone referring to “her songs”, whole armies of ghost writers obviously submit work that her label selects from because there’s not enough hours in the day to prance around like a complete nit and settle down with serious notation or production equipment.

    Reply

    • Posted by Danmeister on December 16, 2010 at 12:33 PM

      You understand, of course, that using “Illuminati puppet” in your answer makes you sound more like a paranoid lunatic than someone who has a serious point to make…

      Reply

  12. Posted by Jamaica on August 28, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    I really could not have stated all these things better myself.
    Best article written on her, it addresses about 9 of 10 of all her bullshit.
    I especially like how you state how boring she is and how she tries to be interesting.
    I seriously bring that up in every conversation online or in real life that she comes up in.
    I say “People that try to be weird and different are always the most boring people… and fake.”

    Reply

  13. Posted by little j on September 9, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    I completely agree.
    Everything about her is fake.
    She is no more talented than any other pop star.
    Her songs are only good because of the quality of production, and that’s down to RedOne.
    She only co-writes her songs and they’re hardly lyrical masterpieces.
    She lies and lies and lies in order to make herself less boring.
    When she first became famous the most notorious person around was Amy Winehouse, and guess what… “Lady Gaga” rocks up with a couple of tame tattoos and lies about drug addictions
    It was only when Michael Jackson died that she started pretending to be weird.
    As a bisexual with mental health problems, I am SOO annoyed with her team spreading stories to make her seem like a troubled genius. She makes Bisexuals seem like weird sluts and seems to have got her stereotypically idea of mental illness from watching films. IGNORANCE. And she can stop lying about drugs as well, she’s a silly little girl with a rich dad who has NO IDEA why people turn to drugs
    She has NO MUSICAL ABILITY so has people making music for her.
    She has ZERO STAGE PRESENCE which is why she needs all those props (remember how terrified she looked on x factor compared to Janet Jackson?? And how shaky her voice was?)
    Her voice is phlegmy and nasally, you can tell she has a receding chin just by listening to her
    She has NO PERSONALITY so she has made this character

    Her only talent is Publc Relations.

    And here’s a prediction. She is reportly planning (or rather, her team came up with the idea) of having corpses as stage props. She will next pretend to be a necrophile because she wants the same notoriety as Jacko did from people thinking her was a deviant.

    A.lso this new book – Poker Face – The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga – is being touted as a tell all of things she doesn’t want us to know – but obviously there is nothing actually to say. her people have had this book written about her. It is all LIES. When have you ever seen a tell-all book advertised extensively on TV *without* the backsing of the celeb??

    If Gaga’s teams wasn’t behind this book they wouldn’t be able to afford TV adverts.

    far more talented musicians should be at the top

    Reply

    • Posted by musiclover on March 1, 2011 at 8:52 PM

      Thanks for telling it like it is. I liked her music, though it’s not spectacular. Notice I said “liked”. Saw her in concert – she is an absolute disgrace and a phony. What a waste of money, too bad there are no refunds on concerts. If I had children there, and there were plenty. I would have walked out and explained the lunacy of Lady Gaga. Insecure rich kid has to act so far over the top to get attention. She needs professional help for whatever she has above her neck.

      Reply

  14. Posted by ray s on December 9, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Ding Ding! Spot on 110%

    Reply

  15. Posted by Julie on January 3, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    I agree with this article 100%. What I really don’t understand is how people praise her for the sake of praising her when she hasn’t done anything special. She has a few catchy songs but what pop star doesn’t? She writes and sings live but so does Kesha and she gets slammed all the time for being trashy yet Lady Gaga is an artist? I’m not defending Kesha or anything but I just think it’s weird that one is praised and the other slammed when they’re both the same. They both write and sing hit songs and dress like idiots.

    Reply

  16. Posted by rose on March 9, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE BLOODY MONEY

    Reply

  17. Posted by sophie on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 AM

    I hadn’t seen a single video or footage of this vapid, pathetic soul until tonight on David Letterman. I found her absolutely revolting. It is hard to fathom that we have sunk so low as a society that we call individuals such as this one ‘artists.’
    We need to ask the question: what is it about our society that enables people like her to rise to the top?

    Reply

  18. Posted by Jennfer on June 2, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    The only reason she is famous is because she dances in loud outfits snd sings about gay people, and gay things. Take away the costumes and gay writing, she’s irrelevant.

    Reply

  19. […] Lady Gaga did an in-depth interview with Howard Stern, which is actually interesting even if you’re sick of her. […]

    Reply

  20. Posted by STEVE SANDS on October 26, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    I am a photographer who OFFICIALLY met Gaga on 10 24 11, while i usually never responed to blog postings I need to pass along that out of 30 years of photographing famous people GaGa was the smartist most sincere and down to earth artist I have ever met. I will go further and say that I have yet to meet a person who actually has met her or worked with her that had anything bad to say about her. She has heart and touches peoples lives. Hence in that we can understand why the world is GaGa about GaGa.

    Reply

    • Posted by Also went to Tisch on May 24, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      A friend of mine designed for her and another had ideas stolen from her by Gaga, and both would disagree very strongly with you. Both did more than OFFICIALLY meet her – they worked with her for months on several costume projects. Would you like to know their names? Both reside in Manhattan, both are blonde, and both are women.

      You’re a Little Monster and the closest you’ve ever photographed her is probably a fan selfie taken with your iPhone. Internet lies. Stop them.

      Reply

  21. […] I first heard “The Edge of Glory,” I loved it—despite my wariness of all things Gaga. Two days later I was completely sick of it. For those two days, though, it makes the list at […]

    Reply

  22. Posted by Crystal on May 17, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    Regardless of how “nice” she may be to her fans and how “glorious” some people may believe her to be, her fame is based solely on her costumes and her outrageous persona. Now, the question is NOT why is this the case, but HOW LONG these antics will appeal to the populous. It has happened to many other pop stars before her; their acts were entertaining to watch for a period of time, but their appeal proved to be very mortal once the novelty faded. Lady Gaga provides solace to the weak-minded, gullible people who easily believe that she actually cares about them. She cares about having fans clinging to her every word and about her career and legacy more than she does actual people. Her support of gay America and anti-bullying associations, etc. is nothing more than a ploy to keep the world believing in the “Myth of Gaga.” I agree completely with this article and I can assure everyone who is sick of hearing about Gaga being the “savior” of music (when it isn’t true) that all it will take is time. Eventually, her antics will wear thin, her fans will grow up, and her Monster fame will be over. And, even if this scenario doesn’t play out, another “artist” will rise up from some city in this world and rival this Princess of Pop in both stage presence and musical ability and end up replacing her as the new Pop Queen! And also, one final note, she is only as important as you make her to be.

    Reply

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