Lady Gaga

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Lady Gaga Pencil Portrait
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This particular lady has become a style icon as well as one of the best selling artists of the 21st century. Apparently she dyes her hair so much to achieve the trademark platinum blonde look that it periodically falls out. Perhaps it might be safer to resort to wigs!

Lady Gaga came to prominence as a recording artist following the release of her debut album The Fame (2008), which was a critical and commercial success that topped charts around the world and included the international number-one singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”. After embarking on the The Fame Ball Tour, she followed the album with The Fame Monster (2009), which spawned the worldwide hit singles “Bad Romance”, “Telephone” and “Alejandro”. The Fame Monster’s success allowed her to embark on the eighteen-month long Monster Ball Tour, which later became one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time. Her most recent album Born This Way (2011) topped the charts of most major markets and generated more international chart-topping singles, including “Born This Way”, “Judas” and “The Edge of Glory”. Besides her musical career, she involves herself with humanitarian causes and LGBT activism.

I have devoted some time to appraising her work, but in all honesty it is not the sort of music I would listen to for pleasure. Most of her recordings have that trance like quality associated with mechanical computerised backdrops and one has no sense of organic music that “breathes”, where drummers both retard and accelerate the rhythm and modulation extends listener interest. However, I accept that dance music has developed into a separate art form, even though I question much of its melodic content if listened to in a stripped down arrangement. But let me avoid becoming pretentious – whilst dance music doesn’t have to change the world, I feel it reasonable to expect her music to be as interesting as her varied looks.

Aesthetically I do like the tonal quality of her voice. The acoustic version of “Poker face” is arresting and the vertical angularity of the melody always stays one step ahead of predictability. The piano only accompaniment version of “The edge of Glory” also suggests an artist worth monitoring for future reference.

However, on her third album, ‘Born This Way’, she relies too heavily on synthesizers and vocal effects, which smooth out all her rough edges until she sounds like a Eurodance version of Madonna (“Scheiße”), Sister Sledge (“Born This Way”) or early Whitney Houston (“Fashion of His Love”).

She’s currently upsetting certain religious groups who cite her immorality, lewd behavior and attire, branding her as some sort of demonic pied piper who might lead the youth astray with songs like the controversial “Judas.” Perhaps the song is disrespectful to Christianity but i don’t think it’s difficult to stay somewhat detached from a song with a hook that goes “Juda-juda-ah-ah-as” repeatedly. It just sounds too silly to be truly evil but what do I know? I’m getting old now (to many Lady GaGa fans I am old!) and the young need their own heroes.

Yet even when I wrote this original commentary in 2012, Gaga’s world was about to change irrevocably. She had first met Tony Bennett, after performing a set of pop hits and a cover of Nat King Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky” – “a jazz song,” she points out – at the Robin Hood Foundation benefit gala in New York City in 2011. Receiving word that he wanted to see her after the show, she was moved to say: “He heard me sing that song, and he asked to meet me. I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, Tony Bennett’s here.’ And I was so nervous. I fixed my hair, and my mom was fixing her makeup. We went back to meet him, and he said, ‘Do you want to do a jazz album together?’ I said, ‘Yes, of course I do.’ And we were fast friends and friends ever since.” It must be obvious to millions now, that the veteran crooner has encouraged her to thrive purely on her vocal abilities, and to eschew the stage theatrics and fashion accessories. My youngest daughter looks at me with sheer amazement when she breaks away from her iphone to tell me that “Lady GaGa’s everywhere with Tony Bennett.” Maybe there’s some truth in that old maxim “At 18 I thought my father was a fool, and at 20 I was amazed to see how much he’d learned in the previous two years!”

Recommended listening

The Fame (2008)

The original album.

The Fame Monster (2009)

Expanded version with eight new songs.

Born this way (2011)

For a woman not averse to arriving on stage in a coffin wearing a fake pregnant stomach her 2011 release “Born this way” still gives the impression of an artist whose songwriting has yet to catch up with her presentational skills. Check it out for yourself and make your mind up.

Recommended viewing

Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden [DVD] [2011]

Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden includes exclusive, never-before-seen footage from the controversial performer’s “monster” live show at New York’s famous Madison Square Garden venue. If you want to really appreciate the stage outfits then purchase the Blue Ray edition!

Recommended reading

Lady Gaga Style Bible (David Foy)

Lady Gaga Style Bible is a vibrant photographic fantasy storybook; part fashion show pictorial and part retrospective homage, in essence a complete guide to Monster Fashion, categorised from A to Z.
One only hopes her songwriting will one day justify the same level of scrutiny.


Youtube – some interesting stripped down demos – definitely a direction worth artistically persuing.

Various websites including an officially sanctioned one but none with anything to particularly commend them. Anyway with 18m followers* of the lady herself through her twitter account there probably isn’t the demand out there!

Well if you MUST keep up to date with La GaGa’s latest tatoo!