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Lady GaGa: When The Style Jumps Over The Moon (Part THREE of THREE)

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When
rock
stars
fake
it

By Ann Powers


____July 12th, 2009


_Los Angeles Times





Part THREE of THREE



The new realities of musical
composition mirror the ways
we’re all baring our carefully
constructed souls using
social media like Facebook
or Twitter.
.
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No filtering device exists
on the Web to separate a
true confession from
an artful lie,
and virtual connections
can feel very real.
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____Lady GaGa by LadyTata.GaGa pic  by LadyTata.
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Reality television
has blurred lines too:
One of Lady Gaga’s
key concepts,
that anyone can think
themselves into the supremely
self-confident state she calls
“feeling the fame,”
make sense only in the
context of a culture in which
actual fame might strike
any average Jenny lucky
enough to have her closet
raided by Quentin and Stacy
or be challenged to a
throwdown by
chef Bobby Flay.
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Beyond fake

In the permanent
state of Gaga,
old distinctions simply
don’t hold.
.
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gaga_008
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This seems like a new
moment in the ongoing
relationship between
pop music and the theater,
one more seamlessly
constructed than those to
which it reaches back.
.
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Gaga and the many other
dance-pop artists who
cultivate a similar style
(from Princess Superstar
to the Scissor Sisters)
constantly reference glam
rock and disco,
but in some ways,
they take theatricality
further than their beloved
elders did.
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Lady GaGa 23
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In 1971,

David Bowie,
one of Gaga’s idols,
said,
“I don’t want to climb out
of my fantasies in order to
go up onstage —
I want to take them
on stage with me.”
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lady20gaga204020z10027s20jingle20ba
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Bowie pioneered the
idea of rock as theater,
incorporating influences
like mime and Kabuki into
an act that stressed the
dreamlike quality of
his work.
.
.
.
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But he still made a
distinction between that
dream life and his real one.

A decade later,
genre-crushing New Wave
art star Grace Jones
reiterated the split.
.
.
.
.

With her signature Flat Top
hairstyle and elaborate
outfits designed by artists
like Jean-Paul Goude and
Keith Haring,
the statuesque Jones
was possibly the most
high-concept pop diva ever.
.
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_article-1167002-0442DB4F000005DC-913_468x634
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But she could step
out of her role.

“Listen,
I’m two people,”
she told an interviewer
in 1980.
“Otherwise,
I’d be insane!”
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snf19biz06-380_711993a-1
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We’ve also come a

long way since 1994,
when Courtney Love and
her band, Hole,
released the single
“Doll Parts” after the death
of her husband, Kurt Cobain.

“I fake it so real
I am beyond fake,”
Love sang in what became
one of the most quoted
lyrics of the era.
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lady-gaga-on-stage-because-shes-interesting-1
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But Love,
like most musicians
of the time,
wasn’t that good at faking.
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_Lady_Gaga_854724j
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In her torn ball gowns
and smeared makeup,
singing her bloody songs
about failing to live up
to feminine ideals,
Love presented herself
as exactly what a pop star
was supposed to be
in the 1990s:
uncontainable,
willing to be ugly,
immediate.
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gagamain_889309j
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Those qualities
added up to “real,”
even when embodied by
artists like Love,
who’d read their feminist
theory and believed that
identity was,
at least in part,
a construct.
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3300867821_e346f1694d
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Like Cobain,
Love wrote songs that
questioned social norms,
especially when it came
to gender roles,
but behind her act (and his)
was the assertion of
a believable self.
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Lady_GaGa_814533a
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Lady Gaga and her
peers are the ones
who’ve gone beyond fake.

It’s not that they
no longer recognize the
distinction between real
life and performance;
it’s that they don’t
care about it.
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article-1197611-0599A22A000005DC-795_468x607
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The pose initiates the self;
what’s behind it just
can’t be that interesting.
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Few current pop stars
immerse themselves in
their personae as completely
as does Gaga —
T-Pain,
for example,
has a song about his children
in which he doesn’t use
Auto-Tune.
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Lady_GaGa
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But many are preoccupied
with the idea that the guises
of the stage cannot or need
not be removed.

In the video for her

song “Overpowered,”
Irish electropop artist
Roisin Murphy performs
in an eye-popping checked
cape and dress and
rectangular hat —
and then leaves the nightclub,
gets dinner at a chip shop,
walks home,
does her evening toiletry
routine and tucks herself
into bed,
all in the same
massive costume.
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tumblr_kq70yySsVW1qa0afko1_500
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Janelle Monae,
a protegee of Outkast
and Diddy,
gained critical accolades
last year for “Metropolis:
The Chase Suite,”
an EP that served as the
first chapter in an unfolding
science fiction epic.
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In her songs and
her live shows,
the theater-trained Monae
presents herself as
“a cyborg without a heart,
a face or a mind.”

Her strange,
jerky dance movements
imply that she’s in character,
but she’s said that her
onstage journeys are
never scripted.
.
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The moves these young

artists make rarely
seem new.

Quite the opposite,
in fact.

Monae,
Gaga and others like
them wear their debts
to Bowie,
Jones and Madonna on
their shoulder-padded
sleeves.
.
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But is this a
lack of originality,
or a refusal of it?

Perhaps that’s the most
powerful point of all.
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lady-gagas-bubble-leotard-17549-1236961797-7
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Taking scam
to a new level

Originality is,

in its own way,
a sign of authenticity:
only Bowie could be
Ziggy Stardust,
because the character,
however elaborately garbed
and alien-seeming,
came from within.
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Lady Gaga is more
like a collection of quotes
than a singular performer.

Every move she makes,
every crazy ensemble
she wears,
can be easily traced.
.
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She’s a human mash-up,
a sample bank,
recycled and reused.
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3705291851_5a7b3e06c7
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To Gaga’s detractors —

and,
I suspect,
to dance floor veterans
30 and older,
who say she makes
them feel old —
the borrowed quality of
her act undermines her
obvious smarts,
decent voice and endearingly
overwrought sense
of purpose.
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gagamain_829980a
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But what pop innovator
hasn’t also been a borrower?

In the permanent
state of Gaga,
“new” is a false category,
just like “real.”
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gaga2ss_829983a-1
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Every thought’s been had
by someone who came
before and is searchable
through Google.

Every image has been
minted and uploaded
to YouTube.
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“I know I’m a magpie,
right?”
Gaga says in another
of her well-staged
behind-the-scenes videos.

“I see shiny things . . .
I’m like, waaaa.”
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And she grabs for the air.

This is one way forward
in the age of too much
information,
when even the drug of
novelty has been exposed
as a placebo.
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The evidence is
before us now,
that every artist
is a borrower,
every genius a liar.

Why pretend otherwise?

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Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Vector Arena on May 16, 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lady Gaga

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