This week, electropop duo La Roux achieved what few British artists have, recently: Their single "Bulletproof" broke into the U.S. Top 40. Who are La Roux, and why did we provocatively suggest they are the Thinking Person's Lady Gaga?
Unlike Lady Gaga, La Roux is not one person. La Roux is a duo composed of the British singer Eleanor Jackson and keyboardist Ben Lagmaid. (Jackson has said it's "a complete 50/50 collaboration.") But we are going to talk about "La Roux" The band as if it was only made up of the pretty British lady Eleanor Jackson so that we can accurately compare her to the pretty American Lady Gaga.
Their self-titled debut was released last June, and La Roux has been "big" for a while, among certain circles. Namely: music blogs and England. But it is safe to say their mainstream U.S. success still awaits. (Probably their biggest U.S. appearance yet was on Ellen last month.) But we believe that enormous success will come quickly, for La Roux/Eleanor Jackson combine many of the things that make Lady Gaga a hit, but in a distinctly more sophisticated—dare we say more British—manner. Consider this La Roux/Gaga comparison chart:
Lady Gaga: The fact that the quality of a pop star's music has little to do with their success did not need to be reinforced. But Lady Gaga managed to build another steel bunker around it. Her music is widely-acknowledged to be pretty awful—sort of Britney Spears meets late-Madonna, if the difference between those two are great enough to fit someone else in the middle.
La Roux: La Roux's music is jamming—it's got deep, 80's-style synth and drum machines and everything! The Madonna comparison stands, but cool—early—Madonna. writes The Times' Carmanica:
Ms. Jackson, who recalls early Madonna, or even Neneh Cherry, sounds coy even when she's mad, but thanks to the lush, throbbing arrangements, she is never chilly, never off-putting.
Advantage: La Roux
Lady Gaga: Every time Lady Gaga releases a new video, the Internet basically crashes and some sort of filter is placed on all social networks which only lets through Gaga-related comments for the next 48 hours. Her videos are brilliant and you don't need us to remind you.
La Roux: But La Roux's videos are cool, too! They might not have the big-budget thrills of a "Telephone," but her videos display some of the same strains of parody and pastiche that make Gaga's videos classic. Take this "In for the Kill" Knight Rider tribute:
Lady Gaga: Lady Gaga's thing is basically, wear something that should not be a hat as a hat. And like an insane person running around with a bucket on their head, it's shocking at first, but the third or fourth time you see Gaga wearing no pants but a 1930s-style gyroscope for a hat you're like, OK. Enough.
La Roux: La Roux's hair is a hat! It's bright red and is always immaculately sculpted to resemble either a tsunami, a unicorn's horn or Morrissey's pompadour. It is amazing and—most importantly—all natural.
Advantage: La Roux
Lady Gaga:Gaga is of course known for saying "controversial" things. She told Q Magazine, regarding her rumored penis, that:
I want to comment on [my dick] in a beautiful, artistic way. How I wanna show it. And I want to call this piece Lady Gaga Dies Hard
La Roux: But La Roux says controversial things, too. And unlike Gaga's whole "oh, I'm the next Andy Warhol and everything I say is artifice" it seems like she actually means it. For example, she "slagged off" (that's British!) Rhianna, who wanted to do a duet with her, saying "Do I really want to work with Rihanna? Not really. I'm more interested in what the phone call would be like." (She also said Lady Gaga is "not my thing.") And, she told a photographer for the Mirror that she "doesn't smile for photos, ever."
Advantage: La Roux
Looking for a pop star to be enamored with, but find Gaga a bit too RA RA RA AH AH AH, ROMA RO MA MA, GAGA OOH LA LA? Check out La Roux. These kids are gonna be huge!