By Carlisle SargentOur guest blogger this week is Carlisle Sargent, currently living undercover as a jaded graduate student in South Carolina. She is a cofounder of the esteemed audio startup, Goat Rodeo, as well as a lover of good design and giving bad advice. Play with her here. If you are interested in guest blogging, email us at AsToldOverBrunch@gmail.com.
I remember this moment clearly. At the grungy claptrap my best friends and I rented in college, we hosted many parties. I was often in charge of the playlist because I am exceptionally selective about the music that I dance to. On this particular night, at this particular party, my brother was hanging out in the living room with some of his wide-eyed freshman friends. I walked in and fiddled with the music until I found something I liked. After a few minutes, I heard my brother yell.
“Carlie, woah, this beat. This is GAGA?!”
The song I chose was "Scheiße," the 7th track from Lady Gaga’s album Born This Way. And yes, at about thirty seconds in, a laser-blasted-super-synthy-strut-your-sh*t-club-going-up-on-a-Tuesday dance beat is dropped, and it is dirty. Although I was happy that my brother, a musical genius in his own right, could appreciate one of the lesser-known Gaga hits, I was bummed. How are people continually surprised that this woman makes incredible music?
Fast-forward a few years—to last Sunday at the Academy Awards. Gaga hit every note in a breathtaking medley from The Sound of Music in a dress that made her look like a f*cking fairy, with minimal makeup and nary a plastic headdress or McQueen heel in sight, and people went berserk. Below are some noteworthy reviews I picked up from Twitter, Reddit, and even in-person conversations:
“Oh my god, I love her so clean and simple. I can’t stand her acting like a freak. She really is a great singer. Wow.”
“If Julie Andrews loved it, I loved it.”
“The girl should stay away from all the costume-y crap”
You know what? Shut up. Stop. Of course Gaga sounded incredible at the Academy Awards: She is an incredible artist. The key word here is artist. I am done with the criticism Gaga receives: comments on her appearance, weight, outfits, makeup, love life, management, mental health, and - most irritating of all - comments on her artistry. Since the beginning of her explosion onto the music scene, Lady Gaga has been a purveyor of musical stories told through a character. Just like KISS, or Marilyn Manson, or Madonna: The person is not the costume. Is the modern musical consumer so dense that they do not understand this? I am not particularly gifted, and I feel that I have been in on Gaga’s joke since 2008.
But I digress. The real issue at hand is the influx of bandwagon Gaga fans that have been born this way since Sunday evening. Suddenly, my Facebook messages are all a flutter: “Ugh, at least she started singing” and “Are you happy that I finally love Gaga now, Carlie?!” and my favorite, “Did you see that performance?” Of course I saw that performance. I have been watching Lady Gaga perform since she was belting out "Just Dance" on daytime TV. I have been watching her closely, because as soon as I heard her voice, I fell in love with her talent.
So I have stuck it out. Alongside hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, I stayed loyal. And it hasn’t always been as easy as "Bad Romance." The Little Monsters and I journeyed through tough times. We made it through the heartbreak of Gaga’s hip injury and a canceled tour; we moved further and further from the glory days of The Fame Monster; and perhaps most recently, we powered through ARTPOP’s strange rap dud, "Jewels and Drugs." The Little Monsters and I are true fans. We are bottom bitches. We shrug off Gaga’s performance at the Academy Awards as unsurprising, because we have heard her wail 4 Non Blondes’ "What’s Going On" on tour, and we have seen her cover Coldplay’s "Viva La Vida" on BBC’s LiveLounge off the cusp. We have listened to her croon "Bang Bang" alongside legend Tony Bennett, and we have downloaded all of her unreleased tracks. Since 2008, we have watched Lady Gaga give more to the genres of pop, dance, and now jazz, than most artists twice her age have offered throughout lifetime careers. We have witnessed the rise of one of our generation’s greatest talents.
And yet, liking Gaga is still considered something of a fad. Something uncool. To many, it’s almost as if her boundary-pushing gets in the way of her true artistry. The Little Monsters laugh, because we know that boundary pushing is her artistry. So no, Gaga is not any more talented for singing a Julie Andrews medley at the Academy Awards - and if I hear one more person call what she did a “comeback," I’m going to get into a fight. She is just as genius, just as creative, and just as special as she was when she performed "Applause" with her face in a box at the 2013 MTV VMA’s. Her true fans loved her then, and we love her now. We are in it for the long haul. We stay Speechless.
My advice to the raindrops-on-roses-fair-weather-fans: Either lose your ‘tude or get off the ride. Because Gaga is here to stay, and so are her bottom bitches.