The Grammys suck. I think the last time I actually watched the Grammys, I was 15. Does anyone care about the Grammys anymore? Well. I am sure some people do. What I have noticed, however, is that in my conversations with people since the Grammys few people have talked about the winners but people have definitely talked about Lady Gaga's Grammy "performances" (and Pink's, too, of course).
This woman (Gaga) is brilliant. Sure her pop music is great to dance to. It has a certain Euro-electro-pop that has breathed new life into the American pop scene. But what I love about Lady Gaga is that she has crafted this larger than life spectacle (and brand).
To my way of thinking, she has brought post-modern art to the masses and made them love every minute of it.
I mean how is her work really that different from Jeff Kouns?
Or Andy Warhol (whose hijinks were arguably the greatest part of his work)?
The painter in me just has to love this.
She has created a persona that extends beyond a couple of music videos (*cough* Sasha Fierce!) to the stage, red carpet events, paparazzi photos, interviews,everything she does.
She manages to keep everyone interested without resorting to cheap parlor tricks like flashing cooch in paparazzi photos.
What I think is really interesting is that part of her aesthetic is an aggressive, seductive repulsion. It can be light and poppy and at the same time have a hard, sometimes uncomfortable edge. Which, I think in this climate is exactly what people need.
Anything too "pretty" would be out-of-touch and wildly idealistic, but at the same time I think people want some sense of celebration (which is why I think The Black-Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling was such a wild hit this past summer). Adopting Gaga's hard edge (and also her debauched dance club celebration) can make someone feel invincible, though; feel stronger in an uncertain world by defying convention.
This unique blend is, I believe, a big reason for her appeal across various social groups. Her inspiring fashions are also about personal creativity rather than unattainable labels, which is appealing in our current economy.
And when you're looking for bang-for-the-buck, nothing beats her over-the-top shows. If you gave me a choice between tickets to a Gaga concert or a performance of La Boheme, I hate to say it, but I am going to have to take the Gaga tickets and am pretty sure I would walk away with longer-lasting memories. Her performances have raised our expectations of creativity.
What is notable about Gaga's success is that she was this no-name weird sound that emerged to dominate the pop culture scene. I think she is great example of how viral sharing which so many young people do (a good reason to have a kick-ass music video that makes people say "You HAVE to see this" to their friends) can lead to huge commercial demand.
The Wall Street Journal actually wrote a really great article on how Lady Gaga represents the future of the music industry, parlaying viral success into capital rewards in other channels.
One of my regrets about leaving LA, however, is that somehow, listening to Gaga outside of the boundaries of West Hollywood is just not the same. I guess it loses something of its ironic appeal.