Star Spangled Gaga is Not an Opening Act

Posted in EGOT, Live Performance, Music, TV on February 15th, 2016 by Little Monster J

Gaga Expands Her Repertoire and Audience


Gaga at Super Bowl 50.

Reflecting on Lady Gaga’s recent gig at the Super Bowl, Wesley Morris writes in his New York Times article, “Lady Gaga seems content to be past” and “she’s willfully become the living embodiment of what’s trended.” He goes so far as to say that Gaga’s singing of the Star Spangled Banner was “essentially an opening act for someone else’s: Coldplay’s, officially, but from the standpoint of cultural consensus, mostly Beyoncé’s.”

To think that Gaga has toned downed or lost her cachet is to misunderstand the arc of her career trajectory. While Beyoncé continues to flourish within the confines of pop music, Gaga has successfully expanded her resume with a Best Actress Golden Globe win for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel, went on tour with jazz legend Tony Bennett, and most recently received an Oscar nod for Best Original Song, Til it Happens to YouNot to mention that her rendition of the notoriously difficult National Anthem was the most highly acclaimed and well received since Whitney Houston’s at Super Bowl XXV.

It is highly probable that one day Lady Gaga will join the very small club of entertainers who have earned an EGOT (refers to an individual who wins an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), an achievement that as of right now is well out of Beyoncé’s wheelhouse. In fact, Gaga could double up on several of the awards winning not only for music, but acting as well. Gaga already has the “G” in her EGOT with six Grammy awards under her belt.

Has Gaga lost her mojo? Of course not. Aside from singing and acting she’s also been busy philosophizing. There is nothing dated about Lady Gaga. Defining her career based on her current relevance to pop music is reductive. As Tony would put it, the best is yet to come.

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In Defense of Pop Music, Gaga, and “Applause”

Posted in Art, Pop Culture, The Industry on August 22nd, 2013 by Little Monster J

Those Who Do and Those Who Judge

“Applause” is getting very little airplay in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to the playlist of 99.7 NOW FM, “Applause” has been played three times in the past 24 hours, once at 1:33 am, 3:11 am, and 2:36 pm. Katy Perry’s “Roar” was released at the same time as “Applause” and has been on the radio about 3x more. So why does the hardest working woman in pop music get no respect these days?

Image via

Image via

It’s easy to sit back and judge those who put themselves out there and no one in the last decade (probably longer) has put themselves out there the way Lady Gaga has. It wasn’t that long ago that Gaga was at the top of the charts back in 2010 during the Fame Monster era and let’s not forget that the single “Born This Way” spent six weeks at number 1 in early 2011, “making it the only song to debut at number one and stay there for over a month since Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” in 1997.

​​So why isn’t “Applause” getting much airplay ten days after its release?

I’ve read a lot of articles in the past few days from “critics” who say that the song/video are not original and that Gaga is yet again trying to do what Madonna has already done. Since I’ve heard this argument before, doesn’t it stand to reason that the critics have run out of things to say? Perhaps they are the ones who should work on their originality. Are they actually getting paid to write the same thing about Gaga over and over again? Maybe we should hold the media to a higher standard. Saying that the “Applause” video is anything like Madonna’s work is ludicrous. If nothing else, the “Applause” video is visually beautiful. It’s pop art.

One blogger who doesn’t think much of “Applause” had this to say: “I must admit that the song has grown on me since I first listened to it, not in a way that makes me want to listen to it all the time, but in a way that makes me do a little dancey-dance in my chair when I hear it and then hum it later in the day without realizing.” Ummmmm, that’s basically the definition of a good pop song!

Let’s roll with the originality argument for a moment. If society is trying to argue that only original songs get to be heard, then why is Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” on the radio at all?  It’s being played every 90-120 minutes on 99.7 NOW FM. Robin Thicke has sued Marvin Gaye’s family because Robin Thicke stole Marvin Gaye’s song.  Yes, please read that sentence again and let it sink in. I remember the first time I heard “Blurred Lines” on the radio and I actually thought they were playing “Got to Give It Up.” Listen to this video to see how the two songs compare:



Thicke’s not even sampling “Got to Give It Up,” it’s the exact same song. AND ROBIN THICKE HAS THE AUDACITY TO SUE MARVIN GAYE’S FAMILY???  Wow.

Here’s another great example of two identical pop songs:



So why doesn’t anyone criticize Thicke, Ke$ha, or Katy Perry the way they do Gaga? Why is Gaga held to a higher standard than artists who clearly rip off other people’s music and then deny doing it? The whole problem with this argument is that “Applause” doesn’t need defending. It’s a pop song and if it were any other artist besides Gaga it would be one of the ten songs that play every hour.

I love what Chris Rovzar wrote about the video on “The video features something else that gives me hope about this new album: a smile. You can see hints of it starting 50 seconds in. It’s not a full grin, but it’s a hint that—gasp—Lady Gaga is actually having fun.” Isn’t that what pop music is all about? Pop culture isn’t about originality; has everyone forgotten that the pop stands for popular? By the time something has been integrated into pop culture, it has officially become mainstream. Creativity does not always mean originality, but there have been plenty of things that are recognizably just Gaga.

For the people who have built their egos, brands, and have otherwise made a living by judging other people’s creations rather than creating something themselves …



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The ARTPOP Metamorphosis

Posted in Art, Music Video, Pop Culture on August 19th, 2013 by Little Monster J

One Artist’s Obsession with Potentiality

Video Review: “Applause”

Watch the video here.

When the observer views art a process of digestion begins.  Meaning is everything whether big or small.  Looking at something beautiful could simply make us smile.  Watching something intense and complicated can cause us to question our attitudes, beliefs, and our role in the world.

Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga.

If this is our reaction as the observer, what is the process that an artist goes through in order to create such emotionally charged work?  Does the artist truly think about every detail and movement?  Do the intentions of the artist matter if the reactions from the observer are completely different?

Watching the video for “Applause” it’s easy to see one allusion after another to her past work.  The video represents transformation as Gaga’s appearance changes about a dozen times.  Each morph contains a story. Gaga touches on the idea of nostalgia in her lyrics, which leads the audience to believe that the allusions are on purpose.

Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga.

When the video begins we see an image of her with dark hair on a mattress, which resembles the Gaga of 2007 before she released The Fame. We then see her dressed in all black from head to toe with a large white sheet.  This image is the blank canvas, the possibility of transformation.  It is in this outfit throughout the video where the potentiality for creation drives Gaga and where she seems happiest and most comfortable.

Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga.

Next we see a few images of Gaga looking tattered in a bird cage with a yellow wig, resembling the final shot from the “Bad Romance” video. Then, Gaga rises out of a top hat resembling a hybrid chameleon/phoenix, both animals that represent constant change and rebirth, which are recurring themes in Gaga’s work. See more allusions in pics below.

Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga.

In an interview this morning on Good Morning America, Gaga explained the meaning behind “Applause” by stating, “it’s not that I live for the attention, I live for making you [fans] happy and that’s when the applause happens, when the audience loves it.” Not all artists are driven to make art that people will enjoy, but Gaga is not only an artist she’s also a commercially viable pop star, so creating something that people will like and buy is also important. Does this change the art?

There is a real sense of cohesion between Gaga’s songs and their respective videos.  “Applause,” which had to be released a week early due to leaks, was intended to be heard in the video for the first time today.  The artistry of the video changes the perception of the song. There is a thread running through all the pieces of art created by Lady Gaga.

Perfection lives in potentiality.

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Pop Music Emergency!

Posted in Charts, Music on August 12th, 2013 by Little Monster J

“Applause” Arrives Early

Listen to the song here.

At 9:38 am PST Monday morning KMVQ-FM 99.7 NOW interrupted the middle of Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” to play Lady Gaga’s first single since November 2011, “Applause.”  The single is being rushed to the radio a week ahead of schedule after a series of leaks over the weekend.

Image via Twitter.

Image via Twitter.

In true Mother Monster fashion, Gaga returns to themes from The Fame and The Fame Monster in the first single from ARTPOP.  The lyrics of her driving chorus are:

I live for the applause, applause, applause
I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause
Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me
The applause, applause, applause

Produced by DJ White Shadow, “Applause” matches the intensity of other dance songs currently on the radio like Zedd’s “Clarity” and Calvin Harris’ “I Need Your Love.” “Applause” lacks the ethereal quality of these true dance songs and remains closer to pop, while clearly distinguishing itself from Katy Perry’s newest single, “Roar” and “Come & Get It” by Selena Gomez.

“Applause” will chart well against other music currently on the radio. “We Can’t Stop,” a slow tempo pop song by Miley Cyrus is shockingly in the number 2 position on Billboard’s Hot 100. Really? Clearly we are all in need of some “Applause.”

Image via Twitter.

Image via Twitter.

We can all clap our way to the MTV Video Music Awards on August 25 when Gaga will be performing live. Until then …

Give me that thing I love
(I’ll turn turn the lights out)
Put your hands up, make ‘em touch
(Make it real loud)


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Gaga Vows to Marry the Night

Posted in Art, General, Music, Music Video, Theater on December 2nd, 2011 by Little Monster J

Video Review: “Marry the Night”

View the video here.

Read the transcript to “The Prelude Pathétique” here.

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” – Marshall McLuhan

Nudity, ballet, Cheerios … Gaga’s increasingly intricate videos are beginning to overshadow the songs that inspired them, as though the pop music has become an afterthought.

Image via MTN video.

The video for “Marry the Night,” directed by Lady Gaga, tells the story of Gaga’s darkest moment. In a recent interview on the Alan Carr: Chatty Man show, Gaga opened up about the significance of “Marry the Night” when she said, “I know how rejection feels in the business. I got signed, I got dropped, I got signed again. That’s actually what the ‘Marry the Night’ video is about. It’s about one of the most horrible days of my life when I got dropped from my first record label and it’s the story of what happened that day” (watch the interview here). As Gaga explains in “The Prelude Pathétique,” the memories of our experiences will only be lost to time, so why not embellish reality with a little gusto and flare. Throughout the video, the noise of an old projector can be heard, signifying that the audience is watching a doctored version of the past.

Image via MTN video.

Gaga’s most revealing moment is also the quietest. At 2:45, a tearful Gaga says, “I’m gonna make it … I’m gonna be a star, you know why … because I have nothing left to lose.” As the camera zooms out, the mocking laughter of another patient fills the emptiness, yet in that moment of darkness and rejection, the dream–and the dreamer–live on. Placing the mint colored hat on her head, Gaga loses herself in a fantasy. The next two and a half minutes of the video flitters between shots of the bleak reality of Gaga’s insanity and the quintessential dream of every little girl–to be a ballerina. This moment represents the loss of a dream that almost became a reality.

Image via MTN video.

Image via MTN video.

As the ballet music ends, Gaga begins to climb up from the bottom of her despair, painting her hair mint colored as she begins to once again reject reality. Donning a blond wig (Gaga has attributed part of her success to wearing wigs), Gaga sets out again to try and achieve her goals.  As she looks up at the faces of other ballerinas, she is saying goodbye to her safe world and opening herself back up to rejection. This moment represents the decision Lady Gaga made to leave NYU and pursue her dreams in the real world, despite the difficulties she would encounter.

Finally, around minute 9, the recording of “Marry the Night” starts to play. The first verse illustrates Gaga’s metaphor:

“I’m gonna marry the night,
I won’t give up on my life,
I’m a warrior queen,
Live passionately, tonight.”

Image via MTN video.

When Gaga chose to marry the night, she committed herself to her dream, not allowing any rejection to prevent her from succeeding. Around 12:30, a montage quickly illustrates the struggles she went through in order to achieve the fame and accomplishments that she has earned today. In an interview with Vogue, Gaga said, ” It was the hustle and the grind and the traffic of New York that propelled me to where I am today. I don’t in any way associate my past with anything other than the hunger and the starvation for success that I still feel. It was the most beautiful time in my life.” “Marry the Night” is Gaga’s romanticized version of her previous reality. In one of the last shots of the video, an appointment with Interscope Records is seen written on Gaga’s palm. That appointment changed pop culture in very real ways.

Our own reality can only be as honest as our perceptions. We see exactly what Gaga wants us to see. The music, the quest for fame … were they only preludes to the creations that await us?

prelude (plural preludes)

  1. An introductory or preliminary performance or event; a preface.
  2. (music) A short piece of music that acts as an introduction to a longer piece.
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