Lady Gaga may be shining a light on the stale and dusty corridors of music and art with her nouveau-sexurite, but for a girl from Brooklyn, she's got an annoying cowboy twang. Is Bad Romance more like Bad En-ance-iation?
To make my point, You have to hear it. But first, some backstory.
Lady Gaga thinks she's doing something unique, original, and exciting. And she is. And she isn't. Because of course, nothing is ever new under the sun. Ever. I think Marcel Duchamp said that, was echoed by the Dadaists and Fluxists, and even Jazz had a go at it. And then there was Madonna.
Everything that Lady Gaga is is because of Madonna. And I'm not the only one to think so. Get your own Material, Girl! But I digress.
The song in question, Bad Romance, features a pulsing grind, droning bass and electric ethereal tones shackled to relatively insipid lyrics. The song is about Lady Gaga's quest for fame within the music industry, her play-it-by-the-numbers power grab and submission and ultimate servitude to the god of Western consumerism. Blah blah blah. Its lyrics are still fairly empty. And she can't lip sync worth a damn.
But right away, from the opening twittering high tones, LGG goes big with a OOOOOOpening paen to some nameless hope or sorrow, which leads into the very first line: "Caught in a Bad Romance"...
And that's when you hear it. Listen to it again. Caught in a Bad RomANCE. Bad RoMANCE. Bad roMAAAANCE.
The sound of Lady Gaga's unmistakable cowboy roots are never more clear than in those two opening lines, when the soft twang of a desert rustler permeates the Romance, making a lie of Gaga's entire enterprise. This is where the Lady Gaga myth falls apart.
Gaga has sold herself as the hippest and most counter revolutionary of all artists, a slave to the Fame Monster (and a bit of one herself), unequaled in genius and industry savvy. But more importantly, what she hasn't, what she can't reveal outright, is that she is a slave to being something she's not.
Her videos are subversive, dark, and disturbing, and often baffling; clearly she has a vision and a sense of herself as a mystical queen of artistic pop. So why is that annoying drawling twang just sitting there like an elephant in the penthouse? Is it affectation? Is it an aural perturbation, heard only by the "haters" who are immune to the genius of Gaga's art?
Hardly. Like Clarice Starling, Gaga has come a long way from her humble roots, hiding childhood poverty and possibly range-riding under a horrendous display of self-lionization--a testicle-less spectacle designed to misdirect the eye with flash and verve. In reality, Gaga is a scared, confused, power-hungry cowgirl who simply can't bring herself to admit that what drives her, underneath those androgynous body suits, the bizarre symbolism and the occult imagery, she's still not more than one generation from poor western trash.