Sunday, October 16, 2011
"...Rodeo, Schmodeo....This Ain't Our First Gaga, You Know...."
The Beatles pulled it off nicely from time to time.
Madonna had a fair run at it.
But Gaga seems to have taken it to a whole new level.
Playing the game.
The game, in this instance, being defined as mastering the skill of flouting convention without being denied mainstream acceptance and/or success.
Fifty years ago, the elders were aghast, aghast I tell you, at the lip curling, pelvic gyrating antics of that morally corrupting boy from Memphis, Tennessee.
But he sold millions of albums, sold out hundreds of shows and had an across the age groups fan base numbering in the tens of millions that was unwavering in its loyalty right up to the day he died.
Forty years ago, the elders were aghast, aghast I tell you, at the long haired,chain smoking,foreign born foursome who had their tween daughters screaming themselves hoarse with the devil's own patented brand of backbeat before evolving into spokesmen for a generation that didn't want to be coerced into fighting a war they didn't believe in or be told there was anything wrong with wanting to enjoy tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
But they sold tens of millions of albums, sold out hundreds of shows and had an across age groups fan base numbering in the tens of millions that was unwavering in its loyalty right up to the day they broke up.
Thirty years ago, the elders were aghast, aghast I tell you, at the smarmy, borderline slutty antics of the girl from Detroit who had not only the gall to preach to her young followers about papas not preaching and enjoying the joy of new love as if it were virginity taken but compounded the offense by actually being named after one of religions more sacred charter members.
But she sold tens of millions of albums, sold out hundreds of shows and had an across the age groups fan base numbering in the tens of millions that was unwavering in its loyalty right up to the day she went from being like a virgin to being like a wife and mom.
And then there's Gaga.
The elders, right on cue and time, are aghast, aghast I tell you, at the over the top antics of this bizarrely cosmetically enhanced, sexually suggestive strutter who bleats of bad romance with a poker face while all the while berating those who belittle those who were born that way.
While selling tens of millions of albums, selling out hundreds of shows with an across the age groups fan base numbering in the tens of millions who are unwavering in their loyalty as they take her to the edge of glory.
Pop music, at least in the form of rock and roll, has always, at its heart, been about, in some measure, about shaking, rattling and rolling the foundation while not completely knocking down the pillars of society.
And, naysayers saying nay notwithstanding, so far, so good.
But each of the aforementioned pop pantheons share another, less discussed, talent.
The ability to inject the mainstream with a jolt of adrenalin without damaging its heart, creating chaos in the culture without crumbling its walls and doing all of it, not with the reckless abandon of raving revolutionaries, but the studied skill and panache of a plastic surgeon, putting the scalpel to the skin in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to simultaneously change the look, refresh the presentation and make everything old new again while never cutting so deep as to maim or mutilate.
Put simply, each of these cage rattlers knew, or know, exactly what they're doing.
Talented writers, singers, dancers?
But the hidden genius is in their ability to write, sing and/or dance all the while winking at the audience that shares the secret with them.
That it's all just a game.
And we all play it together.
And the best part?
You don't have to be all that hip to play.
Even Hillary gets it.