The onslaught of Lady Gaga has been fast and ubiquitous, and her Vanity Fair cover has the publicity machine working overtime. We love you, Gaga, but if you want to keep the love alive, you need to take a break.
In the barely two years that she's been on the scene, Lady Gaga has done almost everything. She appeared on Saturday Night Live, the MTV Video Music Awards, the Grammys, the American Music Awards, the Today show, even the Miss Universe pageant. She's been on the cover of every major magazine, including Billboard, Elle, Cosmopolitan, New York, Time, Out, and Rolling Stone...twice. Now there's the Vanity Fair cover (with the requisite behind-the-scenes video shoot and slow trickle of images before the issue hits newsstands). And let's not forget the endorsement deals like Polaroid, a line of headphones, and whatever it is she gets paid to do for Hello Kitty.
The strange thing is that Gaga hasn't produced all that much material. Sure, one of her several songs—"Just Dance," "Poker Face," "Love Game," "Paparazzi," "Bad Romance," "Telephone," "Alejandro"—are probably stuck in your head as you read this, but she's hardly prolific. Her first album, The Fame, came out in August 2008 and it took a bit of time to catch on, but by early 2009, she was going like gangbusters. That September, she released The Fame Monster, which was originally intended to be a series of bonus tracks for a re-release of The Fame, but that idea was scrapped at the last minute. Instead, it was sold as an eight-track standalone album (or paired with her first album as part of a deluxe version). Sorry, but less than 10 songs barely an album makes.
That's not to say that Gaga's songs aren't great, because as far as pop baubles go, they're awesome. But there aren't a lot of them and they're on constant repeat anyplace that music is played. (I haven't been in a gay bar in the past year without hearing at least two of her songs, sometimes in rapid succession, and often in a block.) By now the songs are like a favorite pair of jeans—they're wonderful, but they've been around so long that their age is showing and there's a red wine stain on the left leg that you just can't get out no matter how many times you wash them.
And now there's an album of remixes, which is basically like taking your favorite pair of jeans, cutting them off at the knees and saying they're a brand new pair of shorts. They're still the same fucking songs that we've been hearing for the last two years. When is she going to write some new fucking material already? Because if I have to hear "Bad Romance" one more time I'm going to club someone upside the head with a pair of McQueen "armadillo" heels.
The thing about Gaga is that there's been a full-court press to capitalize on her momentum since the beginning. There was hardly any lapse between "albums," she's been touring non-stop, and she's constantly in the news either talking about her penis or wearing inappropriate outfits to baseball games. It's Gaga, Gaga, Gaga, all the time.
The problem is that the same thing that keeps Gaga fresh is what's now making her tedious. We're used to a world where musical acts dream up a look and a sound for an album, come out and do a bunch of performances and interviews, release the album, go on tour, and then hibernate for six months to a year (and often longer). After taking time off, they reemerge with another new look and sound, and it's like we're discovering them all over again. Madonna, of course, mastered this strategy early in her career and still rolls it out whenever she has a new album. It's kept her relevant, popular, and fresh (in all but body) for 25 years now. And Gaga, who sees herself as so original, knows a thing or two about ripping off Madonna, doesn't she?
Click to viewGaga has turned that "release and hide" formula on its ear. Every time you see her, it's something new and in every photograph she looks different. Her music isn't changing much (except for the remixes), but pop is about packaging as much as it is about the content itself. Since the box (and the attendant bows and the ribbons) is constantly changing, we think what's inside is going to be different. But it's not. It's just the same old Gaga, recycled. Her dedication to reinvention should be appreciated, sure, but she's put herself in a situation where she has to outdo herself whenever she is in public.
Instead of racking her brain to come up with a new concept, maybe Lady Gaga should just take a vacation? A long one? Let's all forget that she writes some of the catchiest hooks in the business. Let's forget that she's one of the best live performers to come along in eons. Let's forget what she's done to fashion. Please, please, just let us forget for awhile, so when she comes back again it will be a revelation.
Gaga doesn't seem to be heading in that direction, sadly. She's just been nominated for 13 MTV Video Music Awards, more than any other artist in a single year ever. And she's still on her Monster Ball tour which has dates booked solid around the globe through April of 2011. Gaga knows what she is doing almost a year from now and it is the same exact show she's putting on now.
Screw Britney, Christina, and even Beyoncé, Gaga is clearly heir to Madonna's pop princess throne. And she could be even greater than her predecessor. But first we need to be able to appreciate her talents once again. Lady Gaga: You're hereby convicted of overexposure. Your sentence is six months of solitary confinement. Now, please, just go away.