Once upon a time, a day existed when there was no internet, no Youtube and no Twitter. It was a strange time when information and entertainment was shared through a box with dials called a television. Imagine that! Are you old enough to remember rushing home to catch an MTV World Premier Video? I am. Yesterday, as the video for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” was released on the internet I was transported to those days, if only for a few minutes. A man nearing forty years of age, I awaited with great anticipation for the Twittersphere to come alive with news that her video had been officially released.
La Gaga did not disappoint! She still delivers (no pun intended). The video’s visuals are as stunning, as I expected they would be. The camp quotient, right down to the glittery unicorn is perfect. The song, despite all the media and internet criticism, is fabulously catchy. After all, how could it not be? If it in fact sounds so much like Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” a song that suddenly is being praised for its brilliance, then how bad can it really be?
I fear that if I read yet another story or internet forum comment about how much Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” lacks merit and is a blatant rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” my head might implode, not from anger, but boredom. At first I honestly did not hear it and rolled my eyes at the comparisons. Now I kind of do and roll my eyes still, but for different reasons. So what if Gaga’s latest single borrows heavily from Madonna’s 1989 hit? When has Lady Gaga not acknowledged Madonna as a major influence in her work? She has repeatedly expressed her admiration of the Material Girl and other artists of the 70’s and 80’s. So “Born This Way” sounds a lot like “Express Yourself,” the same way that Cher’s “Strong Enough” is an obvious throwback to Gloria Gaynor’s iconic “I Will Survive” and Fergie’s “Fergalicious” sounds incredibly similar to J.J. Fad’s “Supersonic.” Even my all-time favorite artist, Prince, borrows heavily from the Pointer Sisters’ “Automatic” in the hook to “Lavaux,” from last year’s overseas release 20Ten. The list goes on and on. None of these similarities affect my ability to enjoy any of these songs.
I suppose that harsh criticism is to be expected. With overexposure comes backlash. Gaga is constantly chastised for putting on too much spectacle. Her critics accuse her of trying too hard to shock rather than being “herself”. Well, who can truly be the judge of this? How are we even to know of or speculate on such things? Until a relative or close friend comes forward stating otherwise I will continue to suspend my disbelief and go along for the ride, thinking that she is expressing something sincere. Truth be told, I don’t really care one way or the other. I just want to be entertained.
In this day, when so many talented yet boringly “real” artists fall by the music industry wayside never to be heard from again, I am thankful for spectacle. I grew up on spectacle and arrogance. Didn’t Madonna once declare that she wanted “to rule the world?” Didn’t Prince grace us with his “assets” in yellow butt-less pants? Didn’t Cyndi Lauper all but become a professional wrestler? These are the things of show business! The over-the-top antic was an art form in and of itself. Frankly, I’ll take an outrageous performance and wardrobe over a “leaked” sex tape or crotch shot any day.
Yesterday I felt 14 and giddy. Thank you, Lady Gaga.