Tag Archive: Lady Gaga


I was dressed, in my car, and stopped at a red light, halfway to practice. Two of my friends had come over to my place before I left to hang out with my boyfriend (and me–they’d tried to convince me to skip practice). The plan was to sit by the pool and drink. I was reviewing a conversation I’d had the day before:

“How’s stuff with roller derby going?”

“Fine. I still don’t really have any friends.”

“Really?”

“Well, the girls are really into each other and a little bit clicheish. It’s like what Town&Gown must look like to outsiders, except we’re more open to new, cool people coming in. That’s assuming I’m ‘cool,’ though. I could be the Eric Davis of roller derby and have no idea.”

There was an unexpected, awkward pause, then someone mumbled, “woah.”

My friends were quick to assure me that things couldn’t be that bad.

There I was, stopped at a red light, thinking about this conversation, when Born this Way came on the radio. It occurred to me that I could die the next day, not because I was doing anything particularly dangerous. The art of living is known to be hazardous. Were I to die, I would have spent my last night alive doing the exact thing I didn’t want to do when I had woken up that morning.

I turned my car around.


My parents raised me not to be a quitter. It’s gotten me through a lot of tough times. The problem is, in my later  years, I’ve stuck with certain activities (that are supposed to be fun) long after they’ve made me miserable. No outside person would have thought of quitting competitive swimming after 10 years as being a quitter, but I did. It wasn’t until I was so miserable that hated the one sport I had loved more than anything that I actually switched to cross-country.

On this team, until you’re deemed ready to hit other girls or be hit by other girls in roller derby, you wear a blue shirt. You remember being picked last in PE? Well wearing a blue shirt at roller derby practice is like being in a permanent state of picked last in PE. Not only are not allowed to participate in half of the practice, but no other girl wants to work with you on the drills you can do. And why should they? You’re really just wasting their time.


I also skipped a practice after I failed check-offs. The day I went back was the closest thing to a walk of shame I’ve ever had. Every girl on the team said hi to me, and most of them told me (for the first time) they were glad to see me. They had thought I’d quit. The one worse thing than failing a test in front of the entire team is everybody actively pretending like you didn’t. But their intentions were good.

A teammate that I’d spoken to once before came up to me that day, as I was getting ready:

“Um, ____ was just telling me that you’ve missed a lot of practices. Come and see me after practice to talk about what we can do about this.”

“Okay.”

“Are you mad at me?”

“No”

“Would you tell me if you were?”

I take a moment to consider the question. She leans in closer to me.

“You wouldn’t, would you?” She shakes her head at me in a pitying manner, and stares at me. Eventually she goes away.

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Gaga Dreams

BFF

Sometimes PostSecret’s are very in tune with my life.

Turn [off] the Lights

On the radio the other day, I heard the censored version of Kanye West’s All of the Lights. Normally, I’m indifferent to censorship. I think it’s a bit absurd, but if people feel they need to build a wall between themselves and curse words, well, I feel bad enough for such people that I’m willing to overlook any minor inconveniences it has on my life. Lately, there have been a few song edits that have bothered me. The first is changing the lyric, “Fuck you” in Cee-lo’s Fuck you to “Forget you,” which messes up the rhythm of the chorus. The second is Malaysia’s garbling of “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby” in Lady Gaga’s Born this Way, which Lady Gaga discusses in her Google interview. The last is, of course, the censoring of “I slap my girl” in All of the Lights.

The chorus, functionally the thesis of most pop songs, metaphorically explains that in order to begin to fix the problems in our society, we need to bring them into the light. The song discusses (in order) prison sentences, infidelity, a lack of father figures, custody battles, unemployment, poverty, and drug use through two first-person perspectives. In the context of the song, all of these problems are related, and they all stem from the narrator “slap[ping his] girl [who] call[s] the feds.” To censor an event in this song defeats the message the song is attempting to convey, and, moreover, perpetuates the major problem the song is discussing.

In order to begin solving these problems, we must begin a public conversation. The unwillingness to put this lyric out on the airwaves, only makes deniability of the problem easier, and further isolates women who are in such situations. Shrouding such a situation in silence gives it a type of power; the only route to solving this problem is through the education and openness that results from public admittance and discussion.

**

The poorly thought out reasoning behind this censoring seems to be based either on the assumption that if domestic violence is mentioned in music the song is encouraging such acts, or that silence and ignorance will prevent listeners from committing such acts themselves. This thought process is somewhat reminiscent of abstinence only sex education, and is a mindset encountered frequently in the Bible Belt.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A fellow audience member asked his why his books are inappropriate for in-class high school reading, though high school aged readers make up his target audience. Diaz launched into an allocution about the separation of art and religion. He discussed our penchant for viewing all art through a religious/moral lens  and the various problems with such a mindset, mainly that art, the purest form of human expression, doesn’t subscribe to morality–just because it’s wrong to feel something, doesn’t mean you don’t feel it. Diaz theorized that morality and religion are based around struggles for power, which art is unconcerned with.

I don’t want to begin the argument of whether the music Kanye West makes is “art”. Regardless of your feelings, the argument can be applied to this song and situation. All of the Lights attempts to make a convincing argument in favor of morality, but that argument is censored to the point that the listener may not know what parts of the song are even about. When your morality is so extreme that it hinders an educated message in its favor, it’s no longer morality, it’s fear, and such a fear is far more dangerous than any topic it’s trying to censor.

History Teachers

These two history teachers decided history would be way more interesting if it were taught in the form of song. Luckily for us, they decided to go for it, and cover a number of pop songs  with historic lyrics. The songs and the videos are badass, and I guarantee you’ll learn more from them than you did in school.

Vi Hart’s Doodling in Math Class

This chick is incredibly smart and good at math. She starts each video as though she’s wasting time while bored in a high school math class and then flawlessly teaches whatever concept she’s “too bored” to learn from the teacher though her sketches.

 

In other news:

This is terrifying.

 

And I love this…

http://gu.com/p/2yyj9

 

Kristy Mitchell’s Photography will change your life

 

I’m also digging the well edited 2010 compilations that have started coming out.

 

Telephone

Sometime I feel like I live in Grand Central Station.

I left my head and my heart,

[Where] there’s no one home.

I can’t hear a thing.

-Lady Gaga & Beyonce

In Defense of the Unfashionable

Esquire Magazine, in its September issue, made a comprehensive and fascinating “Encyclopedia of Now: The People, Places and Ideas that matter right now.” At the bottom, they had a streamline list entitled, “We Regret to Inform you that you are no longer Now,” and there are a few things on this list that should not be categorized as such.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes are and ever shall be awesome, world without end, Amen.

It doesn’t matter if cupcakes are dubbed “cool” or not,the true believers know that they are and always will be cool and delicious, and that is what makes them Perpetually Now.

Going Green

Clearly whoever wrote this post hasn’t visited the trendy side of Brooklyn in a while. I would think that with Esquire’s informed view of climate change, (If you frequently read the Editor’s Letter, you know what I’m talking about.) they would know that going green, however you may go about it, is a necessity for the foreseeable future–that makes it very Now.

Lady Gaga

*Ahem*

As of August 2010, Gaga has sold more than 15 million albums and 51 million singles worldwide.[4][5] Both Time magazine and Forbes included Gaga in its annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world and the 100 Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world, respectively.[6][7] Forbes also placed her at number seven on their annual list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women.[8]Both Time magazine and Forbes included Gaga in its annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world and the 100 Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world, respectively.[6][7] Forbes also placed her at number seven on their annual list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women.[8]

At this point, saying that Lady Gaga is not now is like saying that Madonna or Beyoncè is not now–you’re just going to make yourself sound like an idiot.

Netflix

With Netflix now streaming to just about every game system made in the last ten years, the ingenious system is taking over television and movies as we know it. In my house alone (which fits in the demographic of 20-35 year olds) we stream to all our computers, our xbox, our playstation, and our wii. We’ve given up paying for TV, because we have Netflix.

 

So Equire, occasionally, you might want to step out of the office once and see what the average person (not New Yorker, not millionaire, not hipster–average person) is doing before you decide to publish your little lists.

I remember listening to the radio one day when a segment of Lady Gaga came on. She listed a few of her influences and they were good– The Stones, Van Morrison. It was soon after Just Dance was released and I remember thinking to myself, “I doubt the chick who sings about getting drunk in a dance club was influenced by Van Morrison.”

Those were the before times.

 

You only have to turn on the radio to know that America can’t get enough of Lady Gaga and Ke$ha. Gaga has the most hits off a freshman album in recorded history, and Ke$ha’s Tik Tok, which hit the charts out of nowhere, is the longest running number-one debut single by a female artist since 1977. These two performers offer something that has not yet been seen by this generation–a little bit of intentional crazy.

It’s easy to find out who’s the hot female singer in the pop world by watching who Christina Aguilera is copying. This may seem like a harsh criticism, but I feel that Christina has all the makings of an amazing pop star–a level head, beauty, and an incredible voice. She doesn’t need to recreate her image every album, yet she still does.

Let’s review: In 1999, when Christina first hit the stage as an adult pop star, Brittany Spears had the top spot in everyone’s hearts. Brittany’s signature ensemble was the sexy schoolgirl look from Baby, one more time, with the tied-off, belly showing top, and an innocent, little blonde girl album cover. Christina then released her debut album, with a slightly sexier version of seemingly the same little blonde girl. To someone unfamiliar with the pop world, they may have been indistinguishable.

As we all know, Brittany Spears had some issues not too long ago. Something along the lines of two ill-advised marriages (one overnight in Vegas), two neglected children, some serious weight gain and loss, and the infamous head-shaving. America watched their pop icon fall apart, piece by piece.

Next, we saw the rise of “the bad girl” in pop music. Christina took on this image in her 2002 release, Stripped, jumping off of artists like Pink, Gwen Stefani, and Avril Lavigne. This mini-generation of pop star has done surprisingly well for themselves on the mental health checklist. Though these artists are between limelights at the moment, the majority of them are happily married, and have done a good job of keeping their names out of the gossip columns.  It was actually the late blooming “bad girls” that had problems, most specifically, Rihanna.

Rihanna, the self-proclaimed “good girl gone bad” found herself in a publicly broadcasted abusive relationship with Chris Brown. Unlike the Brittany fiasco, Rihanna was fortunate enough to have some caring and responsible souls step in to save her from herself. It was, however, widely rumored that Rihanna wished to stay in her relationship, despite the abuse that occurred. Her musical talent has since been reduced to yodeling.

The next fad that Christina copied on her 2006 album, Back to Basics, was the pin-up girl look. This look was piloted by Amy Winehouse, who had the distinct look and sound of that period, even if she was short on the class. You just have to look at that girl to know she’s a train wreck. The question is not, “Did America see Amy Winehouse fall further down the slippery slope?” but “Was the entire thing a giant publicity stunt by her record label?”

When a nation is presented with a singer who constantly looks strung out and has more addition problems than one can count, wouldn’t releases such as “Rehab” and “You know I’m no Good” just make commercial sense? Did we get played, America? The world may never know.

Now we come to present time. The world has embraced Lady Gaga and is quickly falling in love with Ke$ha. Miss Gaga does not sound strikingly different from many pop artists we’ve heard in the past. She makes good music, but if you close your eyes, you might imagine her to be just another young pop star, awaiting her downfall. The difference comes when you see her, or at least familiarize yourself with all that is Lady Gaga.

Unlike the previously mentioned singers, Lady Gaga is a character, rather than a person. From the beginning, she has made a point to distinguish between her personal life and her public life. For a while, most people didn’t even know what she looked like. America can emotionally invest itself in Lady Gaga because her “downfall” will only come in the form of a Kaufman-esque  publicity stunt.

Ke$ha does the same thing in a different form. Rather than embed her character in a dense persona, Ke$ha simply presents herself as a bubble–fun, yet empty inside. She’s even bouncing like a bubble in one of her music videos! Ke$ha is meant to be danced to and then dismissed. Who cares if Ke$ha gets into a bad relationship or shaves her head? The girl brushes her teeth with Jack Daniels for Christ’s sake.

So are either of these artists good role models to the millions of young listeners who are most likely to obsess over and emulate them? No, but that’s really not what America seems to be looking for. At the end of the day, a character is far more interesting to watch than a real-life crazy person; only one of them will have actual repercussions from their actions.