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Lady Gaga: Artist or Entertainer

April 9, 2010

In a few decades from now, we will look back at this time and recognize those artists who made a significant contribution to the music industry. What did they [the artist] do that changed the landscape of the music industry? How did they make their mark? How did they influence other artists?

The one artist that I question is Lady Gaga.  Is she influencer or passing fad? I recently watched her new video, Telephone, which was more like a mini feature film, co-starring Beyonce. The video was very stylish, provocative and strange,  just as Gaga intends all of her appearances to be (she arrived in Australia the other day with two coke cans rolled up in her hair like curlers).

Gaga arrives in Australia

Her fashion sense has made quite the impact in the media by causing controversy everywhere she goes.  But does the spectacle that she creates around herself  define her as an artist or an entertainer?

Her videos are wild and cartoonish. Take for example her latest video Telephone, which was recently banned from play on MTV.  It had a very Moulin Rouge feel to it — the abrupt movements, avant-garde like feel to the dancing, brilliant colours and fantastical plot. Beyonce jumped on board, no doubt to cash in on the media attention of Gaga (she also featured Gaga in one of her videos). The video is a follow-up to Paparazzi, her previous video in which she is arrested for killing her boyfriend. Telephone features Gaga in jail, but is quickly released after Beyonce bails her out and the two drive off to cause more chaos. The video features nudity, course language and enough product placements to put most full length feature films to shame.

Below is the official “clean” version available on Youtube.  To view the explicit version, visit Vevo.

I watched this video next to my husband who grimaced most of the time, commenting on how the music industry has gone to hell. While it was entertaining, it was also slightly uncomfortable to watch, which is what Gaga wants us to be.  As the creative force behind her own image, Lady Gaga has not taken a back seat to the decisions behind her media presence and her videos prove that she is not out to please the general public.

But, is Telephone a great song?  Visually, the video is stunning and it contains enough controversy to get people talking and, ultimately, downloading. While it is catchy enough to dance to and probably great as a download for a gym session, the lyrics are not exactly ground-breaking nor influential (It’s my favourite song they are going to play, and I cannot text you with a drink in my hand, eh). Would you care as much if you had just heard the song on the radio without the visuals?

Lady Gaga and Beyonce

I have heard people say that she is an artist who has pushed the envelope and made a statement.  Are they talking about the actual music or just Gaga as a character?  She entertains, no doubt about that — her concerts would be spectacular; but you tell me  – has Lady Gaga changed the landscape of music?  Or,  is she just a passing spectacle that people will look back on as the singer with the crazy outfits?

Images via wireimage.com;tmz.com;fashion-stylist.net;pacificcoastnewsonline.com;bunnywithfangs.

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