Since the early days of her career Lady Gaga has been known for building her oeuvre around one thing: Fame. Labeled as the “Fame Monster” she has been compared to such illustrious musical acts as Cher, Madonna and Britney Spears. But we do have to ask whether 27 year old Stefani Germanotta really is a pop star in its classical definition, or a new hybrid in the media circus. My claim is: Lady Gaga for sure is a larger than life pop star of the meta level, but not the pop star we are used to. Lady Gaga is the “Anti-Pop Star” Queen.
In fact, Gaga is the “Anti-Pop Star” pop star that we all have been desperately waiting for. Let’s start with the the most obvious: comparisons to Madonna. Madge has earned her fame the hard way. She changed her style from album to album, was (and still is) controversial and innovative, and has embraced new trends. All that happened in an age where the world was offline and the power of online pop was non-existent or just in its development in her latter years. Madonna basically ruled MTV hand in hand with the late king of pop Michael Jackson. She truly was, and still is, the queen of pop for the so called MTV generation. Then came the internet.
Of course, in the manner of a true diva, Madonna made the transgression into the digital age, but she is not a digital native, rather a visitor in the land of technology and connection. What brings us to Lady Gaga is that this native New Yorker not only is a digitally connected and has fostered this multi-media life, building her empire online. Gaga is in direct contact with her fans at all times via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and has even created her own social network for her fans called “Little Monsters”, a place where they can communicate about all things Gaga, art, music, fashion, LGBT and whatever the gagaverse has to offer. The Lady knows how to use the internet. Consider her music videos: every time she releases another visual orgasm it turns out to be an event. Every click record has been broken, she smashed existing download records, took websites down due to high click numbers and manages to spark Twitter ecstasy. Lady Gaga is the first musical superstar, or queen of pop, of the digital era.
If you look at the most recent performance of Gaga it will be pretty clear that her stardom could not be more different from any other pop star. Let’s look at Madonna’s latest concert DVD, The MDNA Tour. Besides any criticism, the show is perfection from start to finish. A head turning entertainment construction. As she sings and dances, the stage moves, the dancers do amazing stunts and the music booms. She gives you this feeling of effortless perfection. We all can imagine that such shows, such body and such longevity is hard work, and by work I mean WERK! But we don’t see that. Madonna is the classical, superhuman, pop star. She is not one of us mortals standing in front of her stage, sweating, screaming and crying. No, she is the main act.
In contrast, we have Lady Gaga. Her iTunes Festival performance on September 1st was, as are all of her shows, a visual and musical spectacular. Making her concert comeback and giving fans a taste of her already highly anticipated but yet to be released, pop epos ARTPOP, she had us gagging on her brilliance. However, she did show us that such pop stardom and meta-fame has a lot of work to it, and for sure demands a constant sacrifice. A wig and costume change right on stage, which took a while and required one hairdresser, one make-up artist, one dresser and three dancers covering that. I guess effortlessness and simple is something else. Even a drag like “de-wigging” and showing real human hair was part of this performance.Well, if that is not deconstructing the effortless pop star image, I don’t know what is.
This really marks Gaga as the “Anti-Pop Star”, and if you need any further proof, she tweets about dreaming of hamburgers, while having to eat a salad to stay in super zero size shape. Gaga gives us regular hints that she is one of us, one of the kids that stand in front of the mirror with a hairbrush, sing into it and dancing our best (worst). She has been that girl and lets us know. We feel a connection and hence we are not fans, we are “Little Monsters”.
She is different from the Madonna embodiment of the unreachable star. In fashion Gaga would be that fancy young label everyone knows but still is somewhat affordable, whilst Madonna is that 4k Prada ensemble we could never afford. Gaga is less an unreachable goddess, more a titan, superhuman but still in our sphere and approachable. That is the work of a true “Anti-Pop Star” Queen.