Tuesday 24 October 2017

Lady (Gaga) sings the blues along with Mr Bennett

Lady Gaga - 'I have been singing jazz since I was 13. I have never been so happy.'
Lady Gaga - 'I have been singing jazz since I was 13. I have never been so happy.'
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

As was the case in the golden, pre-rock era, when the God-like Phil Spector-produced girl-groups led the hit parade, "many of the leading artists of the post-rock era are women.

Rarely a month goes by without a new song from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, or Pink near the top of the charts," wrote John Seabrook in The New Yorker magazine in 2012.  With the exception of Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga is surely the most surreally out-to-lunch of that variously fabulous, if bonkers, bunch - as Rolling Stone magazine put it in 2010, 'Deep Inside the Unreal World of Lady Gaga; Unicorns, sex dreams and the freak revolution of the monster goddess.'

The monster goddess doesn't do politically correct or, for that matter, polite. "I don't like Los Angeles," Lady Gaga (who brings her artRave: The ARTPOP Ball to Dublin's 3Arena on October 17th) said in 2009.

"The people are awful and terribly shallow, and everybody wants to be famous but nobody wants to play the game. I'm from New York. I will kill to get what I need."

This killing to get what you need philosophy was perhaps there from the beginning. Stefani Joanne Germanotta, born March 20, 1986, working as waitress on the Upper West Side when still at school, used her first month's wages to buy a $600 Gucci purse. This ambition-over-economy desire was also evident when the rising star did her first shoot for W magazine: she noticed a Dior jacket and remarked "tremulously" - "Lady Gaga goes bankrupt after using up all her album money on Dior, and not even Dior couture!"

The fledging superstar then added that she loved Dolce & Gabbana/Versace/Jimmy Choo: "I can't pay my rent, but I'm fucking gorgeous." Say what you like about the fecking gorg, self-proclaimed retrosexual New Yorker, Lady Gaga is to dull what Syria is to a holiday destination. You don't know what she is going to come out with next, in that arthouse Cher-on-E way of hers; indeed you mightn't always like it, but at least she is trying in a relentlessly exhibitionist manner.

As pop writer Kitty Empire, reviewing Lady Gaga's debut album The Fame back in the day wrote, "pop has been waiting for a copper-bottomed female auteur for a long time."

"My ideas about fame and art are not brand new," out-of-kilter auteur Ms Gaga concurred. "We could watch Paris Is Burning [Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary about New York drag artists], we could read The Warhol Diaries, we could go to a party in New York in 1973 and these same things would be being talked about. I guess you could say that I'm a bit of a Warholian copycat. Some people say everything has been done before, and to an extent they are right. I think the trick is to honour your vision and reference and put together things that have never been put together before. I like to be unpredictable, and I think it's very unpredictable to promote pop music as a highbrow medium."

Her jazzy new album Cheek To Cheek with living legend Tony Bennett is, possibly to some, a highbrow medium. Whatever it is, the collaborative quirkiness of Cheek To Cheek is an enjoyable romp through everything from Anything Goes to It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) to I Won't Dance; all duets and all versions that bridge the 60 year age gap between Gaga and Bennett. They take solo tracks too: among them, Gaga pouring her heart on Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye to Mr Bennett crooning Don't Wait Too Long.

"Thank you to little monsters who are supporting my new musical journey," Gaga tweeted. "I've been singing jazz since I was 13. I've never been so happy."

Sunday Independent

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