It was just a few years ago that Lady Gaga owned your soul. Following the release of The Fame Monster in 2009, she was absolutely unavoidable--it was just a matter of deciding whether you wanted a machine-gun bra or meat dress in your face. Her every move, every outfit, and every wig-change prompted a CNN Breaking News Alert.
Then what? As "weird" became the new music industry status-quo, Gaga scrambled to pile as many food groups onto her being as possible. But by the time she released Born This Way in 2011, her whole act felt just too shtick-y to bear. Her songs, music videos, and updates on what she had for breakfast gradually faded into the background. Or maybe that was just a dress made out of wallpaper?
Lady Gaga's latest album, or "piece" as she would probably prefer we call it, ARTPOP, has heralded much the same response as Born This Way: critically and commercially, it garnered one giant raspberry. But amidst the tangle of weird bass lines and hiccup-y disco beats, there is something valuable to be gleaned.
True, Gaga is not the absolute sensation she was four years and two albums ago, and it's unlikely any stunt has the power to reclaim a lost throne. Still--there's something about her that makes everyone keep coming back for more. If we were truly over her, we would have been over her the second she wrote a song called "Black Jesus" and she would be the auctioneer behind the best eBay profile of all time.
But the fact is, she's a wonderful singer, a solid writer, a notoriously hard-worker, and a phenomenal entertainer. Why would she want to be among current pop music royalty that consists of Miley Cyrus and company? Maybe this makes me sound like a protective uncle, but I can't help but feeling like Lady Gaga deserves better than the space she's trying so desperately to occupy--and I get the feeling that she's starting to feel that, too.
Gaga is never going to fall off of our radar completely--she would never allow it. But maybe she does actually belong on the fringe--among the truly avant-garde; Her recent collaboration with Marina Abramovic is merely exhibit A. She has the intelligence and talent to develop into her own kind of artistic legend, it's just a matter of making sure she doesn't stand in her own way.
Image via Metro