Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Gaga Effect

We've come to an era in music where nearly everything and everyone is being compared to Lady Gaga.  Rihanna's wearing weird clothes?  She's ripping off Lady Gaga.  Nicki Minaj is wearing a crazy wig?  Gaga wore it first.  Oh, their music sounds like Lady Gaga.

To be honest, as a huge Gaga fan myself, I've usually been one to say such things myself.  In fact, I'm probably going to play both sides of the argument right now, since I half agree with what I'll be complaining about while half think it's just bollocks.  And so, the central theme of hypocrisy once again shins through on this blog here of mine.

As I said, I'm one to call out similarities to Lady Gaga.  In her absence, though, I've looked to other music to pass my time.  I came across a certain Natalia Kills, and I quite like her.  She's only just getting radio airplay here with her song Mirrors, and I'm sure you've heard it if you aren't familiar with the title.  Naturally, I wanted to hear more from her.  I came across the music video for her song titled Zombie, and I couldn't help but notice the video had a very Alejandro vibe to it (dark imagery, big white block letters at the beginning, etc etc).  I then moved onto the comments: nothing but slanders about how she's just a huge Lady Gaga ripoff, about how it's a copy of Gaga's Alejandro video.

Here's the interesting thing.. the music video for Natalia Kills' Zombie was released on March 15th 2010.  Alejandro was released on June 8th.

This is, perhaps, one of the better examples of this: yes, Lady Gaga is unbelievably amazing, but SHE DID NOT INVENT MUSIC.

I will agree that since the Gaga Revolution many artists have been greatly influenced to change their image.  Ever since Lady Gaga, image, overall, has become more edgy and unique.  I wouldn't call that mimicry or stealing though; it's merely a sink or swim reaction.  Cultural revolution doesn't happen with one person's action; a change at all happens with one large motion, not by one instigator.  Change doesn't happen with everyone remaining static.  Yes, everyone out there seems like Lady Gaga now; that's because she was the biggest and first motion, and everyone soon followed her.  It isn't ripping her off, acting a bit like her: she didn't invent her music style, she didn't invent the idea of shock imagery, she didn't invent high fashion.

Even she drew inspiration from other people.  In this world, it's absolutely impossible to be 100% unique: in your writing, you'll find you'll use cliches since they're the easiest way to say something; in the way you dress, it'll reflect what you saw and liked on other people.  And that being said, I reiterate that Lady Gaga didn't invent music: as her songs or image may look a great deal like artists in the past, the artists of the future will bear some resemblance to her own.

On the flip side, though, there are blatant motions of mimicry.  These instances are a bit more inexcusable: Lady Gaga, instigating change, doesn't DEFINE what change is; therefore it's up to everyone after her to interpret her change and apply it to themselves.  Therefore releasing a video that looks a bit too much like Bad Romance is an undeniable copycat move (I'm looking at you, certain unnamed once popular female singer).  Aside from that, yeah, I scratch my head when I see Katy Perry's chest emit fireworks, or when I see absolutely every recent music video start with a title card.  Even still, they aren't blatant attempts on ripping Lady Gaga off; they merely reflect her huge impact each time (the level in which they reflect her impact may be a bit too obvious, though).

I could launch into so many more topics about the so called "Gaga Effect" - for one, how difficult it may be to be a straight fan supporting her whole Born This Way era, but that's a whole different and much more touchy subject - but I figured I had to say something about how over the top and easy it's become to write off new talent as a Lady Gaga ripoff.  If everyone were to come to a halt completely and accept Lady Gaga as the be all end all of difference, then we'll never see anyone else shine.

EDIT: It's kinda funny now how Born This Way is under fire for sounding too much like a handful of Madonna songs.

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