Music Monday #13

Today is #musicmonday, but there are two music-related trending topics right now besting that time-honored hashtag. One is #letshaveatoast, which, according to What the Trend, “originates from the song Kanye West sang at the VMAs 2010.” The other is #bornthisway, which is the newly announced name of Lady Gaga’s forthcoming album. I swear on my cat that I will not write about Kanye. This leaves Gaga.

(Bad argument alert! I just made it sound like the only alternative to writing about Kanye was to write about the Ga, but that’s mistaking a set for a universe. There are loads of other things to write about. I considered trying my hand at insight and analysis to say something about how #musicmonday is a pretty measly hashtag compared to the trending topics buzzing around superstars like Justin Bieber and superstar-studded events like the VMAs. I thought I might look into whether those bigger events had any bearing on what does trend in #musicmonday. But I’d just end up wondering, again, why there’s so much awful ‘90s nu-metal on Twitter, plus I was sort of hired to write snark, if you define “hired” looser than the jitterbug and also dig very deep into the conversations surrounding the birth of this column to find out what “hired to” might mean.)

So! Gaga! I have a heady sarcasm-n-worship cocktail to send her way. It’s like a martini and includes a plastic cup full of olives on the side. I’ll try to go heavy on the former, because worship, or at least respectful bewilderment, are cheap and sweet and I prefer my cocktails expensive and dry.

Worship first, because otherwise I’ll wind up doing a Seinfield imitation. “The meat dress! ­What is the deal with the meat dress?” (Full disclosure and revealing my age, if you hadn’t guessed from the fact that I’m writing a column about effing Twitter: I was a bit young for Seinfeld and base the previous sentence on other comedians’ imitations of Seinfeld.) While I agree with Gaga’s detractors that her provocative style borrows generously from Grace Jones and Madonna and the like, I think she’s filling an important AND AWESOME cultural function by bringing avant-garde art and fashion to a population that doesn’t live in a high-concept-saturated environment. Like, the burbs. Not that the burbs are devoid of art or fashion, because I would not touch that conversation on the internet with a pole, but as someone who grew up in the exurbs and now lives within a 5 block radius of no-kidding half a dozen galleries, there’s a level of effort required to see certain perspectives in certain places when those perspectives are impossible to avoid in other places. Um duh, hedging, let’s sum up: Dance Music + Crazy + Smart = Happy Allyson.

Ok so really though: What is the deal with the meat?

First of all, we didn’t really need it twice. She already appeared on the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan dripping in raw red meat. And it’s not like no one saw that cover, even though it’s two adjectives removed from being Vogue Vogue—the Internet ate it up, so to steak. I mean speak. Besides, it had already been done ages ago on America’s Next Top Model. Specifically, Cycle 10, Episode 4, titled “Where’s the Beef?” Please do not ask me how long it took me to a) remember that photo shoot, or b) find the pertinent nitty gritty on it. The point is: ANTM has some awesome photo shoot concepts, but Gaga revels in making obscure references and Tyra Banks is whatever the opposite of obscure is.

Second, the messaging is almost…obvious? Like, duh, meat is just a step removed from fur, or leather, I get it G, can you get drunk at a Yankees game again now ‘cuz that was fun.

Third: Baiting the PETA people is practically cheating. These are the same people who want you to drink beer instead of milk. Sort of. It’s complicated. But really, someone as completely bonkers as Lady Gaga should be able to find a more challenging target. Like, let’s try to outrage the people who choose the typeface for subtitles in foreign films or something next time. (“Slab serif? What is she trying to suggest???”)

Fourth: Wouldn’t prosciutto have been a bit more supple? Or any other thin-sliced deli meat, really.

Fifth: Did you know if you Google Image Search “Lady Gaga Meat Dress” it auto-corrects “meat” to “metal”? Now you know.

Sixth (sixth sixth): I worry that Lady Gaga is veering uncomfortably away from Madonna and toward Marilyn Manson. (666? Get it? Huh huh?) Even when Madonna was at her shockingest best, she was always fun to watch. (I know, I know, I already outed myself as being too young to have seen Seinfeld. A friend had a VHS tape of classic Madonna videos and I watched it obsessively in middle school.) Manson (who was hitting his stride when I was rewinding “Express Yourself” a million times) wasn’t trying to do much more than make people vomit, from what I remember. Gaga has proved that she can provoke without resorting to gross-out tactics, so a gory awards-show dress is a potentially Mansony new direction. And nothing says “meteoric rise followed by obscurity and irrelevance” like Marilyn Manson.

Finally, and about time: Where can she possibly go from here? Translucent deli meat might be a good next step, because it keeps the gore but adds some nudity. Maybe she’ll start dressing like a monk and riding a skateboard, although I have a friend who did that for a large chunk of college so that’d be weirdly derivative but also psychic. My educated guess is heavier body modification, but that gets us back to point the sixth: Shock for shock’s sake and the plummet to obscurity. Mainstream America isn’t ready for horn implants, I’m, like, 99.9% sure.

My #musicmonday pick: The opposite of shocking—I’m really digging indie/hip-hop/funk/soul darling Janelle Monae right now. Cold War and Tightrope are my oh-so-obvious picks.

Originally posted at Vinyl District.

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