Deliberately being lazy yesterday on the penultimate day of my vacation, I caught Lady Gaga's HBO special. It was hard to miss, actually, because they ran it back to back on every effin' channel all day long!
But I did watch it. And here's my thing -- it was pretty good.
I'm not on the hater parade about Lady Gaga. She's a musician, not a rocket scientist, so I don't get all the angst over her from, well, pretty much everybody. Her music has an interesting sound to it. Some I like, other stuff -- meh.
In my other blog, I gave my thoughts on Born this Way, her note-for-note reissue of Madonna's Express Yourself. And aside from being perplexed that she wasn't sued over it, I like the song. Mostly because I liked the original.
But her MSG performance that HBO taped was a nice mix of spectacle throughout. It has a theme -- her and her friends travelling to the Monster Ball. They get lost and singing ensues.
Despite all the noise about Lady Gaga, one thing is very clear -- chick can sing live. And that is something that sets her apart from the majority of the music industry today. Her voice may not be perfect, but she's got the pipes to pull off a live show that sounds good.
She does a song off her new cd -- You and I -- I think it's called. Performed live, its a pretty tough rocker and sitting at the piano, she pounds that sucker out -- with, as she points out, her "long ass New York fingernails" -- I was impressed.
She makes a point during the show about not lip-synching her performances which sounded like it was aimed at Britney (who completely deserves it, imho). But she is clever enough to have 3 or 4 back up singers who harmonize excellently with her. This allows her to vocally step in and out of songs to manage the dancing involved. It's a savvy tactic, and something that winds its way through her entire music career -- she's taking everything everyone else before her has worked out, and put it all together in one package -- her.
She plays the audience, throughout the show, like a violin. For someone who's just burst on the scene, she displays a long time pro's knack for knowing how to work a crowd. Watching her push the audience's buttons again and again brought a smile to my face. It was a veteran-like performance from someone who simply shouldn't know how to pull it off. But does.
Gaga takes a lot of hits for pandering -- whether it is to gays, or her audience in the form of self empowerment spiels, shout outs to celebs in attendance, etc. Again, here's my thing -- what performer, in any genre isn't pandering to their audience in one way or another? Whether its making music they think their fans want, or movies, or writing books, everyone selling a performance is pandering to their fan base.
Lady Gaga is just a bit more blatant about it.
So I say -- so what? Don't like it? Don't pay attention to her.
And I've got to give her props for self-confidence, because she spends almost the entire show half naked. And that's a gutsy thing. From a purely guy-ish standpoint, that's some amazing white girl booty she has going on there! The dancing is nothing elaborate, but she's moving with the music and it seems kind of natural. I always thought those singers that were noted dancers -- Madonna, Michael & Janet Jackson -- always looked better when they just danced rather than worked so hard at choreographed numbers. Gaga keeps it simpler with her moves and to this rythymless old white guy, it looked pretty good.
With the exception of one part in the show where she went a bit overboard to be religously discourteous, it was worth watching again. And I have.
So if you haven't seen Lady Gaga, and want an idea of what all the hubbubs about, I recommend watching it. And if you're already a fan, and haven't seen it, you're missing something.
To reinforce my point about her pipes, here's an acapella version of Born this Way that plays at the end of the show. Again, girl does have some talent: