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Black Sky Thinking

Why Whitey Needs To Get Off Lou Reed's Dick And Onto Lady Gaga
The Quietus , February 24th, 2010 09:53

"Grand" Mof Gimmers gives it to us straight - whitey is just too damn afraid of Lady Gaga... and would rather take refuge in fucked old codgers Reed, Osterberg Jr and Jones... but isn't that missing the fucking point?!

Between the grizzled threesome of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, bad sex, worse drugs, androgyny, alienation and good times found a good home in song. All of these artists went through pretty lean times whilst people tried to cotton on to what was going on. Iggy was too dumb and too blond. Bowie was too hungry for fame and Lou was just plain weird and distant.

These artists all struggled and plugged away until Warhol effectively sponsored the Velvets like a football team, Iggy got his dick out and Bowie stopped trying to look like a Yardbird and decided to look like a sex nymph from space. Then, the world slowly began to realise what the deal was.

If only they’d known that, if they’d formed like Voltron to make one super freak, they would’ve conquered the world in a chicken minute.

Of course, these days, we’re too jaded and cynical to let anyone strut around the place straight off the bat like they own it. Pop stars still need to earn their stripes if Whitey is going to start singing their praises.

That’s why Whitey - ostensibly, the thirtysomething guy who still likes to buy heavyweight vinyl and secretly wants to stab people who talk incessantly through gigs [This is me to a tee, Ed] – is on the run from Lady GaGa.

See, GaGa came along with Iggy sluttishness, Bowie’s pretention and Lou’s Warhol wet-dream and decided to make music that was equally pompous and knowingly dumb as the aforementioned canonised rock stars. However, GaGa suffers from being too brash and too brazen in her quest for fame. She’s hungry for it to the point where it's borderline perverted.

Whilst it’s okay to be, say, a fame-hungry music mogul like McGee or McLaren, some star-chasing popster is always going to be dismissed as throwaway trash. In GaGa, we’ve finally been granted a pop star who can play the game and, if you want, pretend that the neediness is borne from some art-school statement... something that a punk won’t ever have the audacity to confess too.

Excitement doesn’t come too thick or fast in the world of music and when it does, it’s feverishly grabbed at in chunks of flesh. GaGa is chastised in the dreariest way possible for offering, quite literally, the skin we desire. However, what Whitey can’t accept is that she’s doing a thing that is still so admired in the likes of Iggy & Co.

At long last, after years of landfill shmindie and anti-pop groups in white suits obediently awaiting the key-change, we have someone who is single-handedly trying to redefine the very notion of what a pop star can be in The Noughties and beyond. As a project, it’s bold and brilliant and going to require a whole lotta shaking of the tail-feather.

Whitey has for too long, sat around talking about the lack of influential pop stars on the planet. I was one of those guys too. Where are the likes of The Beatles, casting a hand over the whole of popular culture and making people readdress the way they go about their business? You want a maverick spirit?

We’re slap-bang in the middle of a pop era which is seeing singers knowingly redefining themselves and creating personas. Every single one of them is aping GaGa’s moves. Pop’s most important people have fallen like trees to be more like The First Lady of Pop. Beyonce wanted a piece of the GaGa action and Rihanna went from being the archetypal ghetto hustler to someone between the two. Between the three, we’ve got the glitterball adrenaline rush of the embryonic days of Glam when Bowie, T-Rex and Roxy Music.

Whilst Whitey will heap praise on the Sainted rock of yore with the usual Trad. Arr. spiel of wondrous androgyny and inventive, hooky pop, GaGa arrives similarly to her own fanfare with the weirds and everyone dismisses it as cheap, whorish and Rizla-thin. Whilst it may be all of those things, Whitey won’t let on that those three things are three of the greatest things a pop-star can be.

Speaking as someone who caught the opening show of GaGa’s Monster Ball Tour, I could draw the parallel between her and the rock of ages. She out-Queened MUSE and out-weirded Marilyn Manson. Dancers vomiting paint, flaming pianos and 15ft high Angler fish all appeared out of a show so dazzling that only a fool would deny the bombastic fun... which, incidentally, is music’s raison d'être.

Musos probably collectively sneered at Madonna when she started to aim high with her pointed bra way back when, only to find themselves looking back (from a safe-distance) and sagely nodding in agreement that she was "pretty good" and how "we could do with another one of her like right now".

However, GaGa is here and now and to be celebrated and enjoyed. In ‘Just Dance’, we’ve got her call to arms. It’s her ‘Into The Groove’. It isn’t a mark of her talent, but rather, the track that was released to acclimatise us all at the entrance of The Haus of GaGa. It’s simple and direct and echoing the original sentiment of rock & roll.

It wouldn’t be until ‘Bad Romance’ that everyone would suddenly begin to understand what GaGa was doing. The kids went wild for it and the older fans went from adoring to infatuated. If Whitey could have let the pop-snobbery go for one second, they would have realised that GaGa was effectively realising the future of pop as imagined by Human League when they made Dare.

She sends that great message of "dance like there’s no-one watching, sing like there’s no-one listening and fuck like you’re being filmed". Something you won’t hear in the pointless noodling of Rock Critic Approved Animal Collective.

And so, if Whitey appreciates the trash-aesthetic, he certainly won’t accept that there’s something deeper to be found. To the braying know-it-all, she’s little more than some dumb-bitch in hotpants singing Europop. However, that’s the opinion of someone skating the surface like a cultural pond-fly. You don’t have to dig deep to find an entire world of scarred-bravado, melodramatic camp and vulnerability. While “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah, roma-roma-ma-ah, gaga-ooh-la-la” is tossed to the side by idiots to short-sighted to see that a line like that could’ve been from the frenzied pen of Little Richard, elsewhere, she’s creating great rock & roll lyrics.

The words of ‘Poker Face’ in a retro-futuristic setting are easy to miss, yet split it from the irresistible synthpop and it’s a classic shit-kicker ‘50s greaser county track. “I wanna hold em' like they do in Texas, please... fold em', let em' hit me, raise it baby, stay with me... Luck and intuition, play the cards with spades to start.” Elsewhere, “Some men may follow me... but you choose death and company”, which would be praised to the point of parody if it came from the mouth of Morrissey or Dylan.

Like Carole King before her, GaGa is a one woman Brill Building.

Of course, all of that is missed because the easiest thing to do in the world is to hate a famous pop-star. GaGa is weird and an attention seeker... sure... but you gotta imagine that pop-conservatists were exactly the same when Ziggy Stardust emerged from his glittery pod and played guitar with Weird and Gilly.

GaGa is more than just a famous singer-songwriter. Whitey’s brain scrambles at the mere mention of her name. They don’t get it... they’re not even getting near the ballpark of it. All the while, those who have climbed on board are reliving that great moment in music when fans stopped caring about what some dumb critic or nay-saying catholic record buyer thought and hopped on the train dressed in weird clothes and strange make-up. As last seen in Glam, Friday night conjecture is out of the window in favour of the beautiful and weird blossoming of the suppressed thoughts in people’s minds. T-Rex got boys in feather boas. GaGa is bringing back punk S&M and mirrored tits.

So next time you hear the dumb lyric of your favourite garage punk 45 or listen to anything produced by Vince Clarke... the next time you dig the strange Phil Spector track or thrill at the oddballery of Grace Jones, ask yourself why you aren’t fizzing with undiluted excitement at a star that combines all the weird forward-thinking aesthetic and battered and bruised tenderness of a pop-star that matches all those things on her own terms and managed to shit out a pop-art Faberge egg the size of a juggernaut.

The suicide blonde train-wreck has got the kids onside and Whitey on the run – some of whom will invariably relent and accept that we’ve got The Real Deal on our hands. So big is Lady GaGa’s star is that it doesn’t need defending. The only people who need addressing are those dismissing her act on principle.

You really ought to enjoy this phenomenon while you can because we’re not due one for another 20 years. While Whitey skulks with his John and Beverley Martyn long-players, the rest of us will just dance, “half psychotic, sick, hypnotic” (and if that’s not a garage punk sentiment, I don’t know what is).

Wanna know where all the proper rock stars have gone? Well there’s one who has decided to camp in the pop hemisphere and you were too precious to even notice.