The annual “Worst Album Covers” list is one of my favorites because it gives me a chance to write about a subject that is a little more light-hearted and fun than the more formal album review. I enjoy poking fun at the bad album covers that I’ve seen during the year, so go into the following article with that in mind. If you are easily offended, it might be good to stop reading now. Some of the choices will make you feel awkward, some of the choices are in bad taste, and others are just plain awful. Whether you find the following covers to be interesting or fantastically bad, take joy in this year’s collection of horrible album art.
Lady Gaga is a pop star—why are we taking time to bitching about her? Is it necessary to use the internet to spread negative rants about global pop stars? Isn’t it a bit spiteful? Some writers at BDWPS are actually Lady Gaga fans. And we haven’t bitched about say, Britney, or Christina. Isn’t her music better than the average pop star? (Yes, and I happen to actually like some of it). So why the hate? Because of all the talk of her ‘revolutionizing pop music’—that’s why. A quote from her interview with TIME Magazine: “I don’t want to sound presumptuous [any time someone feels the need to say something like that they already are], but I’ve made it my goal to revolutionize pop music. The last revolution was launched by Madonna 25 years ago… I want so much for it to go beyond the music for my fans.” That lame self-proclamation led to everyone repeating it until the hype became a common fact. But what does Flavor Flav say? Lady Gaga: revolutionizing pop music? FAR from it my friends. Let us take a look at the (wo)man who lives in the Haus of Gaga.
Our journey begins with a woman named Stefani Germanotta. Take a moment to browse through these three clips.
Hopefully one can stand watching enough of these three videos to see what Lady Gaga started out as—a Vanessa Carlton/Norah Jones hybrid. Maybe throw in a bit of Tori Amos, but that is probably giving her a bit too much credit. It should be obvious she didn’t start off revolutionizing anything, but then again, we don’t hold that against her, as neither did David Bowie.
But how did Stefani Germanotta transform into Lady Gaga and get so popular? Well somewhere along the way Gaga manipulated herself into what she felt would make her a star—or more accurately, what her management team felt would make a star. Mainly I would say, she/they added controversy and a ‘freaky’ public image. Is she a hermaphrodite? Bisexual? To answer these questions, and whether or not she is now revolutionizing pop music, let us reflect on her music videos, live shows, public image and music.
First off, I will say that a few of her videos are amazing (although the video for “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” is absolutely horrible). Very visually captivating… but obviously they took like thousands of dollars to make. I’d just as soon watch this one from Dinsosaur Jr., which probably took 5 bucks to make. Check it out:
More on music videos later. Music is what we are worried about here at BDWPS, not flashy music videos. So let’s talk about her live shows.
Most of the Lady Gaga fans I know swear by her live show. And, yeah I get it, lots of props and costumes and money put into it. But EVERYTHING IS SCRIPTED. During this song she will wear this, she will go over there and shake her ass for 35 seconds then take off her hat and do some scripted dance moves then put on a different pair of stupid assed glasses and grab her crotch in a neo Michael Jackson move and then a black guy will come from over there and hump her leg. Then she will take pants off revealing a Hello Kitty covering your vagina. Where is the REAL FUCKEN DANGER in any of that?! Rock and roll shows shouldn’t be scripted. Revolution is dangerous and is not scripted. Sorry Gaga.
Watch this video of her playing “Speechless” live:
Watching her play the piano for a five minute song is almost excruciating. Without all the flash, props, pomp her live show amounts to almost nothing. Putting your leg up on the piano and showing your crotch doesn’t make it any more watchable or the song any better. Okay, maybe a little, but it also turns me off, because it should be beginning to become clear to one, with Gaga very little of it is about the music.
Let us take a moment and go through Lady Gaga’s latest album, The Fame Monster, track by track.
1. “Bad Romance” – An awesome song – the first time Gaga’s music surpassed the hype
2. “Alejandro” – Mostly I get fucken tired of her singing the word “Alejandro” over and over again (we used to play a game, counting how many times Creed sang the phrase, “what if” on that one shitty song. But it would be completely impossible to play that on this song, as I doubt any human can count that high). If it weren’t for that, I could dig this song.
3. “Monster” – sounds like Kylie Minogue song + Britney Spears
4. “Speechless” – a bad Queen song sung by the guy from Nickelback.
5. “Dancing in the dark” – Madonna + Britney
6. “Telephone” – Christina Aguleria with an autotuner
7. “So Happy I Could Die” – like every Eurotrashpop star ever + Shakira
8. “Teeth” – if you told me this was Christina Aguilera I would believe you.
An above average pop album (although if you gave almost anyone as big of a songwriting team as Gaga has, they could probably come up with some above average stuff as well), but the biggest problem with calling Lady Gaga revolutionary is that, really, it has all been done before. Proof (all one needs is 30 seconds worth, VERY IMPORTANT TO WATCH THIS ONE):
Can one watch that and not see Lady’s shit was done 30 years ago? I guarantee she is a Missing Persons fan, cos that is too similar to be coincidence. David Bowie did the androgyny thing 40 years ago (even Ellen Degeneres told Gaga this in an interview) and did it way better—cos the music was fucking fantastic! Grace Jones was much fiercer/scarier 30 years ago, Betty Davis did the whole badass “I wear the pants in this sexual relationship” way better 40 years ago, Madonna blazed these public image/controversy trails in the 80s and the rest of Lady Gaga’s schtick is a mixture of Marilyn Manson, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, Roxy Music, Roisin Murphy (especially with the avant-garde outfits and while I am on it, Roisin’s 2005 album Ruby Blue is way ahead in the pop arena while at the same time being more avant-garde than Lady Gaga) and Bjork.
Her lyrics are 10th grade suburban white girl, her choice of collaborators (like Beyonce and Flo Rida), are definitely not avant-garde, and her controversial/nihilistic public image is only interesting cos mainstream pop music has become so damn conservative the last five years. And come on, do you think I care about the Nazi/nihilistic imagery and if she is acting like she is fucking some dude in the ass (“Alejandro” video), or beating up some prison bitches (“Telephone” video)? I couldn’t care less—it’s all about the music (and really, does this shock anyone but 67 year olds?). But this brings out more beef I have with Lady Gaga. She is always talking about how she wants to “liberate” her fans. Is this cruelty fetish in her videos helping to liberate teenage girls? Teaching them you need to get your ass kicked and be cruel to other? Whatever—I could give a fuck less if she has three dicks and two ovaries (or if her music videos portray it)—it is all about the music. Justin Bieber fucking a baby in the mouth in one of his videos would be controversial as well, but that wouldn’t make his music any better. Controversy does not equal revolution or add up to liberating music.
I listened to at least five of her interviews for this article, and not ONE time did she say anything remotely interesting (how can someone who is revolutionizing ANYTHING have nothing thought provoking to say?). She is not the brains behind this hype machine. Maybe Joanna Newsom said it best: “Her approach to image is really interesting, but you listen to the music, and you just hear glow sticks.” So she is definitely not ‘revolutionizing’ pop music. Gaga is simply what pop music is today, for better or worse.