HOW THE BIGGEST POP STAR ON THE PLANET IS KILLING HER CAREER
This article appeared on the Rolling Stone website, but has now been withdrawn:
HOW THE BIGGEST POP STAR ON THE PLANET IS KILLING HER CAREER
by Jody Rosen
January 9, 2012
Flash back to barely three years ago. Lady Gaga had just emerged onto the pop music scene, and — according to many — she was poised to become the heir to Madonna’s throne. Her monster debut album contained a slew of chart-topping hits, her music videos were the most talked-about of the year and racked up more YouTube views than anyone else’s (securing a Guinness World Record in the process), her headlining concert tour was a sell-out success, and the media was constantly yakking about all her outlandish fashion statements.
Lady Gaga had it all. She experienced firsthand the big break most new artists can only dream of, and it put the world in the palm of her hand. It was as if everything Gaga touched turned instantly to platinum, and she — the goddess of pop music — could simply do no wrong.
But Lady Gaga forgot that fame is a fickle friend, and made a string of very serious blunders that could very well cause her career to tank — perhaps for good. This article attempts to pinpoint exactly where Lady Gaga went wrong. (Be forewarned, there is much usage of the word “over.”)
SHE OVERWORKS HERSELF
Perhaps one of the most dangerous pitfalls for any pop star is simply working too hard. When Lady Gaga first appeared in the mainstream, she was fresh-faced and energetic — ready to take on the world of music. She had a healthy, glowing complexion and was of an appropriate weight. She seemed cheerful and lighthearted. And why not? Her career had just begun to skyrocket.
A mere three years later, this is no longer the case. Lady Gaga has begun to look gaunt and pale. Her skin is white and pasty, her cheekbones protrude almost unnaturally, and her weight has dropped to a hazardous new low. Online video footage shows the pop star virtually passing out onstage as she mouths along to her backing track at a concert in New Zealand. Rumors are now circulating that she might have an eating disorder and be abusing cocaine. She is often photographed in public with an expressionless, dead-eyed stare. Something is definitely off.
Many pop singers are pushed to work constantly — to always be in the media, to always be performing, to always be producing new material. Thus, artists tend to get stressed. They experience extreme anxiety. They can no longer sleep well at night, and simply don’t have time to rest during the day. They are always traveling, and therefore perpetually jet-lagged. They don’t eat right — and, in some unfortunate cases — they start to abuse drugs in a desperate attempt to maintain energy and deal with all the constant worry.
Lady Gaga, it seems, is not immune to this, despite all her fame and glory (or perhaps because of it). She seems to have worked herself to the point where she is no longer healthy, and cannot perform up to par — and the public has taken notice. Alas, this is what happens when pop stars overtax themselves in an already taxing profession.
SHE OVER-SATURATES THE MEDIA
Working constantly results in a continuously irritating media presence. Lady Gaga was everywhere in 2011, even though her album and its singles weren’t doing nearly as well as predicted. It was as if her management team was literally trying to shove the woman down our throats in an effort to improve her chart performance.
For example, Lady Gaga appeared in a preposterous Thanksgiving television special this past November, where she showed viewers how to cook a meal of deep-fried turkey and waffles while wearing a wide-brimmed black hat the size of a giant sombrero. Less than one month later, another absurd spectacle aired. This one was Christmas themed, and it was titled ‘A Very Gaga Holiday.’ Her publicists released cheesy pictures to promote the event which featured Gaga bedecked in white fur, posing slack-jawed beside an old fashioned microphone, her name superimposed over the image in curling white script. Meanwhile, an outrageous Christmas store called Gaga’s Workshop sprung up courtesy of Barneys New York, selling every cheaply-made item under the sun with the singer’s name stamped on it.
Sadly, the ratings for both her television specials were disappointing, and her holiday “boutique” was slammed for being tacky and overpriced. (Would you pay $8 for a lollipop that looks like Lady Gaga’s face?) And yet, no more than two weeks had passed since these latest embarrassments when Gaga’s management team decided to put her on national TV again — this time as the featured performer for New Years Rockin’ Eve in New York, where she stumbled around onstage letting her backing track do most of the singing.
To be frank, this extreme level of media inundation is nothing short of gag-inducing, especially when it is executed with so little taste and finesse. It’s just like when college roommates get sick to death of each other, even though they started off friends. They quickest way to make people hate you is to be in their faces 24/7, forcing them to witness your annoying antics as often as possible.
SHE’S GROSSLY OVERCONFIDENT
Lady Gaga is well-known for her brashness and immodesty, and — harkening back to the title of her enormously successful re-release of The Fame — she truly has become less of an “artiste” (her own words) and more of a monster. Her lack of humility hasn’t gone unnoticed by the general public, and the consensus is, her blustering claims are not only inappropriate, they are also unjustified.
In 2010, Lady Gaga overhyped her then-upcoming opus Born This Way by saying it would be “the greatest album of the decade.” Then in 2011, when the album release actually rolled around, everything fell apart. The entirety of Born This Way was sold on Amazon for a mere 99 cents on the day of its release, along with the nifty add-on of free Cloud storage. This was such an amazing deal that people flocked to Amazon that day to take advantage of it, causing the album to sell over a million deeply-discounted copies in its first week. But when Born This Way was returned to its regular price, it immediately experienced a record 84% drop in sales and soon disappeared from the top of the charts. The album’s singles grew less and less popular as the months passed, and eventually, Lady Gaga’s own record label — Interscope — dropped her fourth single ‘Marry the Night’ from radio airplay altogether, due to its less-than-stellar performance.
It’s pure foolishness for a pop star as big as Lady Gaga to be digging her own grave by pushing such an overrated image of herself. (Indeed, she won the Billboard poll for ‘Most Overrated Star of 2011,’ beating out the likes of Justin Bieber and Britney Spears.) To put it bluntly, Gaga needs to get her ego in check. The singer might have had a successful debut, but that doesn’t mean she can continue on her way to the top completely unhindered — for as the past year has proven, she is far from untouchable.
SHE’S TRYING TO RUSH HER CAREER INTO OVERDRIVE
Even though Born This Way and its singles failed to live up to all the hype that Lady Gaga herself created for them, she has — for some reason — rashly decided to release yet another album this year. Is she attempting to distract the public from the fact that Born This Way failed to make the impact she had hoped for? Is she antsy about Madonna stepping back onto the music scene again? Whatever fuel is firing this sudden intention to spit out another album, Gaga quite simply needs to cool it. Hurrying to produce more music will only do more harm than good, as the songs run a significant risk of sounding sloppy and haphazard if they’re churned out this way.
Even more worrisome is the list of alleged Born This Way Ball tour dates that leaked onto the web earlier this month, beginning March 2012 and ending over two years later in November 2014. Given Lady Gaga’s current physical state, there’s no way she can survive such an endeavor! Understandably, both critics and fans alike are questioning the singer’s sanity, and wondering if the ticket sales for this proposed spectacle would even be a financial plausibility. The pop star’s health and fiscal stability notwithstanding, it’s clear that rushing out a new album and embarking on a whopping three-year world tour would produce two very negative results (as discussed above): more of Gaga overworking herself, and more of Gaga over-saturating the media. And thus continues her downward spiral.
I told you the word “over” would be used a lot.
But therein lies the heart of Lady Gaga’s problem; everything about this woman’s career — her music, her shows, her statements, her goals, her persona, and (of course) her fashion sense — has quickly become overkill. She is now the epitome of all that is overhyped, overrated, overproduced, and just plain overdone. And yet, for all that Lady Gaga can be accused (and found guilty) of excessive behavior, there are some aspects of her public image that leave much to be desired, and they are as follows:
SHE LACKS CHARISMA
Lady Gaga presents herself as if she has zero personality whatsoever. During interviews, she speaks in an aggravating drone, rarely expressing any kind of emotion. Her face remains deadpan, and her eyes (whenever they’re not obscured by sunglasses) remain glassily fixed as if engaged in a staring contest with the nearest spot on the wall. She acts empty, robotic, and devoid of feeling. In this way, she fails to connect with her audience, instead appearing detached and distant.
Gaga is in desperate need of a little vigor. If she continues to behave like an aloof and uncaring diva, she might lose the interest and support of some of the same people who enable her to do what she is doing today — her viewers and fans. Gaga would do well to remember that she is not as far above the bourgeoisie as she pretends to be, and she does in fact depend on them for her continued success.
SHE LACKS AUTHENTICITY
Perhaps more than any other pop star of our current age, Lady Gaga manages to come across as totally artificial — a fact which she herself has openly admitted and discussed in the press. While hypocritically preaching that people should love themselves exactly as they were born, she herself has become nothing more than a manufactured product for the masses to consume; she seems constructed, fragmented, and fake. A scant amount of research into the singer’s past proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has changed almost everything about herself — name, image, and music — in order to achieve success.
Lady Gaga is inarguably a conformist. Maybe that’s why even her supposed efforts to do good come across as ignorant and inauthentic to many — like the bombastic lead single off her latest album Born This Way, which was touted as the gay anthem of its generation and expected to “obliterate Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive.'” (Neither prediction was actually achieved.) Many gay people saw the song and its accompanying music video as pandering, and felt that it did nothing but reinforce negative stereotypes about alternative lifestyles in general.
Gaga should be honest with herself as an artist. Maybe then the general public, and her so-called target audience (gay people themselves), will take the singer more seriously.
SHE DOESN’T DRAW ENOUGH ATTENTION TO HER ACTUAL TALENTS
Despite all the negative things listed in this article, Lady Gaga has a lot of things going for her — not the least of which is the fact that she is genuinely talented; she’s an above-average singer and pianist, and a skilled performer. Ironically, these gifts were best displayed prior to The Fame era, when Lady Gaga was still Stefani Germanotta, accompanied by little more than her keyboard and some stripped-down vocals. But now, those pros have gotten lost in a treacherously churning mix of cons that threaten to overwhelm her. Since she has the world’s undivided attention, Lady Gaga should tone things down a bit and show us all just how talented she really is — as in fewer publicity stunts, less crotch-grabbing dance moves, and quieter backing vocals. Lady Gaga’s fans actually want to hear her play and sing.
The ugly truth is that Gaga is more famous for grabbing headlines with her unconventional fashion sense than she is for her expressing her gifts, a fact which even her most serious fans would be hard-pressed to deny. Any true artist will admit that’s cheap, and it’s called “selling out.”
But Lady Gaga has the ability to bounce back from all these mistakes. Less overkill and more substance should do the trick, and this pop star has likely got a few unseen aces up her sleeve. So while she didn’t quite trump the music industry in 2011, as was predicted, she’s had a great head start and will undoubtedly remain a force to be reckoned with far into the future. Gaga should leave the past behind her; after all, she’s already made history.
Posted on January 14, 2012, in Charts, Music and tagged HOW THE BIGGEST POP STAR ON THE PLANET IS KILLING HER CAREER. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.