May 6, 2010

I said Lady Gaga looked like she'd been swimming in seaweed, got caught in a net, and then, without removing the net, took up beekeeping.

But let's hear how Television Without Pity's Jacob describes her woeful "American Idol" performace:
A giant angel statue under blue lights, a naked gay man having spazzers on the floor, and Gaga at the piano covered in spray-painted black branches, herself in a black chiffon version of the costumes they had to wear in The Handmaid's Tale....
Link added.
She's still got a fishnet thing over her face, because she's weird about her face. Because it's weird.... The song is very slow and not my favorite of the catalog...
Yes, it was slow. Leaden. Odd when a [big star's] mediocre performance takes place on the "American Idol" stage. Even though the judges won't judge it, you construct judgely comments in your head. Man, if she were a contestant, they'd flay her. They'd peel off that seaweed and netting and flay her.
Lady Gaga stalks over to a giant Halloween Tree/Meat God, and plays the piano hardcore and things get kind of Shakira for a second, musically, but now she's singing about somebody named "Roberto." Maybe this song is actually written from the perspective of somebody named Roberto and she's even more about appropriating gay men's sex lives than usual, taking it global. Or maybe those are the names of two of her dancers and she's just making this song up as she goes along. Or maybe this is a tribute to Cinco de Mayo, because she keeps talking about Mexico....
I thought it might be some sort of commentary on the immigration crisis. What I heard was: hostile words for a series of men with Hispanic names — get away from me Hispanic men. I imagined that she might be on the anti-immigrant side of the debate — or trying to tap into that side of The American Brain.

But we can read the actual lyrics here:
You know that I love you boy.
Hot like Mexico, rejoice.
At this point I gotta choose,
nothing to loose.

Don't call my name.
Don't call my name, Alejandro.
I'm not your babe.
I'm not your babe, Fernando.

Don't wanna kiss, don't wanna touch.
Just smoke one cigarette and hush.
Don't call my name.
Don't call my name, Roberto....

Don't bother me.
Don't bother me. Alejandro
Don't call my name.
Don't call my name, Fernando.
My theory is not so far-fetched now, is it? She even cites Mexico as their country of origin.Yes, I realize there's love relationship talk in there, but I'm talking subtext. (Remember interpreting "American Woman" by the Guess Who?)

Jacob has nothing to say about the immigration subtext. He's all about her questionable relationship to homosexuality:
Lady Gaga creates culture, but more importantly if you have a subculture of any kind, Lady G would like to be a part of it, because she's an upper-class prep school New Yorker and thus has been exposed to subcultures her entire life that do not admit her. So when that happens -- when you are too interesting for your world -- you have to do things like this, which are awesome, but also things that are not so awesome, like glomming onto gay culture so hard you actually have to pretend that your bisexuality is more than hypothetical. 
Glomming!

IN THE COMMENTS: Daniel wrote:
I got into Lady Gaga because of American Idol. Her first performance last year. Playing that bubble piano then rocking out, with that S&M zippered leather eye cover. Whew! Hot.

Now, symmetrically, I'm souring on Gaga because of American Idol. Yesterday was a snort fest. Her cheap costume. The dude skirt shorts -- a weird mix of rib-high waists (because you're not a woman, you're a mom!), bike shorts and mini skirts. The gallons of sweat pouring off the dancers shaved chests. The fake tree. The flame spitting angel -- because that's what angels do, they shoot flames out of their heads. Gaga's apparent boredom (the only part of the performance that was dead on for me). TERRIBLE. Between that and her crappy telephone song, I really don't care how many women she makes out with -- she's sucking hard right now.

22 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

Why should anyone care?

PatCA said...

It was like really kitschy Madonna...and 6 minutes long! I kept zapping...zapping...it went on and on.

Richard Dolan said...

"Odd when a mediocre performance takes place on the "American Idol" stage."

Your own many riffs about AI show the opposite, that a mediocre performance is par for that course. Perhaps the mediocrity here was that it failed even at the level of over-the-top glitz, which is the kind of bare minimum that these over-produced TV spectacles are usually good at. I don't watch AI so I couldn't say.

I assume you put all that energy into dissecting the AI phenom because it strikes you as a window on the middle American soul, or perhaps just the pop aesthetic of today. If that's the window, it just proves the difficulty of seeing through a glass darkly.

Irene said...

I liked her until last night. The (bad) romance is over.

SteveR said...

"leaden" is a good description. I suppose when its about everything more than the music, then all that other crap counts but it doesn't impress me. Anyway I'd rather hear Fernando

as done by Abba, which, like it or not, could be classified as music.

Original Mike said...

I'm with C.E. Lady Gaga? I can't get past her name.

MadisonMan said...

I've told my son that a mash-up of Alejandro and Fernando would be interesting. The songs sound very similar to me.

Quayle said...

OK, so her market studies showed that she needed to put something Latin out to bolster her appeal in that particular segment.

But what was with the dancer's pants being so high waisted?

Were they all dressed to bolt the studio after the show and beach-comb with their metal detectors?

al said...

Lady Ga Ga. Another example of why the DVR was invented. Its so easy to fast forward past the unwatchable.

Joseph said...

Minimally-produced, small-scale live performance (including live vocals) is not Lady Gaga's forte. I love her but that performance was definitely "leaden" and I think a bit too weird/absurd for the AI audience.

GV said...

Even reading the lyrics, I can't see the subtext connection with immigration. Is it like the constitution and the right to abortion or perhaps the right to privacy?

I would have rather listened to her sing Stairway to Heaven like Blige. OK, maybe not.

I now only enjoy the Southpark version of Poker Face amongst the Gaga song collection. Weird without a catchy tune isn't that entertaining.

Daniel said...

I got into Lady Gaga because of American Idol. Her first performance last year. Playing that bubble piano then rocking out, with that S&M zippered leather eye cover. Whew! Hot.

Now, symmetrically, I'm souring on Gaga because of American Idol. Yesterday was a snort fest. Her cheap costume. The dude skirt shorts -- a weird mix of rib-high waists (because you're not a woman, you're a mom!), bike shorts and mini skirts. The gallons of sweat pouring off the dancers shaved chests. The fake tree. The flame spitting angel -- because that's what angels do, they shoot flames out of their heads. Gaga's apparent boredom (the only part of the performance that was dead on for me). TERRIBLE. Between that and her crappy telephone song, I really don't care how many women she makes out with -- she's sucking hard right now.

gbarto said...

Lady Gaga isn't high art, but her albums are actually pretty good. Monster and Show Me Your Teeth are hilarious.

But the videos invariably disappoint. The songs are mostly about a club hopping party girl who's too confused/wasted to remember where she is. That calls for some fun and silly videos. Not the mini-movie Telephone video.

Ann Althouse said...

""Odd when a mediocre performance takes place on the "American Idol" stage."

I should have been clear that referred to the stars that come on the show as guests. Obviously the contestants themselves are rarely anything other than mediocre or worse.

Ann Althouse said...

Also @Richard Dolan It's been the most-watched show on TV for many years. That's importance enough.

Daniel said...

Why do people who watch American Idol have to defend ourselves all the time? Even Ann does, inevitably, in every post.

I like the show. I know it's "cool" not to for some people, probably in part because of its high ratings. But it's gripping TV. The mediocrity (and worse) is entertaining like a train wreck. And when people sing well, it really is incredible. Fantasia singing Summertime. Adam Lambert doing Ring of Fire or that Tears for Fears/Donnie Darko cover. Most everything David Cook ever did, particularly Eleanor Rigby. 16 year old Allison Irahida rasping bitch rocking with red hair and a guitar. Jennifer Hudson. Kelly Clarkson. Carrie Underwood. These are huge stars with huge talent.

I hate the word elitist (which I often get called, given that it's usually a stand-in for the half of this country that lives in a city and votes Democratic). So I'm trying not to use it here. But I don't watch American Idol ironically -- I watch it because I like it and because it's good TV, which I have a hard time finding these days (particularly because I can't seem to commit to these week after week hour long shows, at least since the Sopranos went off the air).

If you haven't ever watched it, by the way, it's too late now. Simon's leaving. He's good TV, and I'm not sure I'll watch after he leaves.

Paddy O. said...

What did ya' think of Harry?

michaele said...

I have always found Harry Connick's singing disappointing and last night was no exception. He is so talented on the piano and it catches me by surprise when his singing isn't equally brilliant. His American Idol shtik was interesting because I never realized he was so comfortable expressing his inner clown.
Lady Gaga's thing was dreadful and boring...and boring is probably the more insulting of the two.

Daniel said...

Harry got ugly.

Beth said...

Michaele,

Connick learned piano from James Booker; the singing is an afterthought. The piano playing's for real. I always wish he's just shut up and play.

Cory Keasey said...

I think people need to see the originality and what is represented. All you guys are looking at is the fact that she isn't idol material. I believe that is what makes her unique. Where do you all get off saying what she is and isn't though. Plus Idol did some editing to the video anyway, that is why it was the way. If you saw what Gaga was tweeting (twitter for those who didn't know what that was) she was outraged that her performance was cut. I also heard that it was due to the fact that it was promoting homosexuality. I am not saying it was, but that was an argument some have thought.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Cory. The show is live and she was performing on stage. If somehow her performance wasn't live and was cut, against her choice, then she was wronged, because it is made to appear as part of the live show. But I don't see how the cutting would have affected what I thought. It seemed slow and too long to me -- dull and lacking in energy. It's hard to see how that problem could have been rectified by not cutting it. I'm not saying she needs to seem like one of the contestants, just that being on that stage makes the viewer take on a critical attitude and imagine what the judges would say. I could imagine Simon saying: I thought that would never end. It was so boring. All those lights and dancers and costumes just made me think about how little real singing there was.