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Why So Gaga About Lady Gaga?

After millions of downloads, and over a billion views for her risqué videos, Lady Gaga is the new love-it-or-leave-it superstar. We hear the case for the glam-pop icon.

Lady Gaga performs at Carnegie Hall, New York, May 2010. (AP)

Lady Gaga performs at Carnegie Hall, New York, May 2010. (AP)

Stephani Germanotta was only four years old when she learned to play the piano. At thirteen she wrote her first song, and by nineteen she had a record deal and a new handle: “Lady Gaga.”

Part go-go dancer, part diva, with outsized costumes and brazen sexuality, she’s been called the new Madonna. Maybe bigger.

But there are bigger themes. Believe in yourself, she says. Total girl-power. It feels like everyone is listening, watching, and singing along with Lady Gaga. And they’re hearing the message.

This hour, On Point: Going gaga over Lady Gaga.


Nancy Bauer, associate professor of philosophy at Tufts University. Her Op-Ed on Lady Gaga, “Lady Power,” appeared in Sunday’s New York Times.

Maura Johnston, music critic. She’s written for The Daily Beast, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Gawker, and Awl.

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  • Brett

    I was wondering when Tom was going to get around to doing a show professing his love for Lady Gaga…he seems to use her a lot as a reference point for genre and era comparisons in popular culture. ;-)

  • http://lizybee.wordpress.com Sweetman

    I wonder if she’s flaming out or if she’ll continue her meteoric climb? She’s fallen to wearing underwear in public and hanging out in mens locker rooms, so it may be that she’s tapped for new ideas. In case you can’t tell, I have a like/dislike opinion of her. What’s more fascinating is how she blew out of obcurity! How does that happen? The fickle finger of fame seems so random at times.

  • AL

    While i have no interest in her music, she certainly is an interesting case in Marketing. Regardless of her musical ability, wear enough goofy stuff in public and you’ll get noticed, I guess.

  • Gary

    Her success is the unfortunate proof that Disco can be reborn. Those who are too young to remember the past are destined to embrace it as new…and considering all they have had is Rap for 15 years, I really don’t blame them.

    As for the look and style, from what Ive seen, she is a untalented mix of Deborah Harry, and Cher.

  • informed American

    How about covering a story that’s newsworthy and has a real impact on peoples lives? Instead, On Point decides to devote a whole program to this mindless garbage.

  • Steve V

    Does this really surprise anyone? We eat junk food, shop on television (HSN, QVC, etc) for things we don’t need, and know more about American Idol than what’s happening in local government. The media is simply giving us what we want, shallow entertainment for shallow lives.

  • jeffe

    The music is relentless pap. She knows how get attention. Witness the recent faux pas at Yankee stadium.

  • Brett

    “How about covering a story that’s newsworthy and has a real impact on peoples lives? Instead, On Point decides to devote a whole program to this mindless garbage.” -informed American

    What? Come on, you’re slipping i.A.! Isn’t this another symptom of a failed Obama presidency? What about socialism? Maybe it shows how Obama is controlling the mainstream, liberal-biased media? I mean, something! Man…I’m disappointed…

  • Paul

    When many people, regardless of age, race, culture, or nationality are following her, she may be around for a while longer (even my 3-year daughter is into her right now.) But don’t expect Lady Gaga to resist the inevitable fate of trends and fads – just a matter of time before she fades from the MP3 players, radio, and MTV. Ride the wave Lady Gaga!

    As for Brett’s comment: lighten up Brett. OP has a wide spectrum of topics. Not all OP shows are for everybody, but it has proven itself.

  • Cally

    I confess, I among the mass of young women who adore GaGa and can be found having impromptu dance parties when and wherever one of her songs begins to play. (Apologies to the good people of Target and to others who have suffered similar unsolicited performances.)

    The music is pop, but the performance and the persona are compelling. She is certainly a construction and conceit but it is all her own invention. After seeing the Marina Abramovic show at the MoMA this spring, and watching people become equally entranced and appalled, I couldn’t help seeing GaGa picking up on some of the same threads. They both ultimately seem to make the viewer feel self-conscious. http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/marinaabramovic/

    When people react so strongly to her, I feel like they are missing the point. In my view, she is parodying pop culture and representing it to us in all its ridiculousness. (Her recent Alejandro video seems to mock the Madonna vernacular as much as pay homage to it.) It is interesting that the likes of Britney, Beyonce and others who are equally scantily clad and prone to thrusting, float along without real cultural controversy, while she elicits such strong reactions.

    Last year there was a wide spread rumor, industriously circulated by young men, that Gaga was in fact a man. I wonder if your guests might speak to whether her sexuality and persona are particularly threatening to the mainstream, or if this kind of backlash is par for the course for female performers who take the reins—so to speak!

    Look forward to hearing the discussion!

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com AKILEZ


    “Gaga” in Filipino is Stupid Girl.

  • Amy

    Her story is great and more power to her, but they play her songs way too often on the radio. I am so burned out on her music.
    There are so many great songs out that should get more air time.
    iTunes owes her great thanks, because I search for other new singers and download their songs on my iPhone and listen to that instead.

  • Brett

    Lighten up, Paul, both my comments were a little tongue in cheek: 1) poking fun at Mr.s Ashbrook’s past references to Lady Gaga. 2) “informed American” tries to relate all topics to “Obama’s failed presidency.” Do you need a smiley face every time? Aren’t you just knee jerking it a bit?

  • Chris B

    …and considering all they have had is Rap for 15 years, I really don’t blame them.

    Really! 15 years of what I call, “the 3 M’s” – Murder, Misogyny and MF’ing. Anything that’s a step away from Rap (“Short for Crap!” in the words of the redoubtable Greg Allman) is a step in the right direction, even if it is disposable Pop. At least she sings actual songs!


    Gaga is just getting even with society and especially her school.

    Freedom of expression what makes Lady Gaga unique and has her own style of fashion.

    She is the 21st Century. Poker Face!!!

  • JohnO

    Madonna did it before Lady Gaga, she did it better, and she still looks better. Madonna should be flattered by the blatant but cheap emulation.

  • Kathryn

    She’s nothing special, she rips off whatever looks good in the underground/indie/whatever isn’t popular scene. That or her stylist does. Whichever- she isn’t at all original and her message is just as contrived as anything else. She has blatantly ripped off Roisin Murphy’s looks and makes mediocre pop songs with her mediocre voice.

    It’s not really a mystery why she’s popular- she had connections. Her music isn’t any different in theme or style than what has been popular in music sung by women.

    It’s not an interesting phenomena its just marketing.
    Girl power? Hello Spice Girls.


    Madonna is 20th Century and Lady Gaga is 21st Century

    Madonna fashions was from Punk,Marilyn Monroe,Vogue and Evita.

    Lady Gaga’s fashion statement is unusual.

  • EIO Boston

    Does anyone still remember Miley Cyrus?

  • Dee Kieft

    Whether you like her or not, she has achieved fame thru hard work not a talent search show with stylist and voice coaches. Lady Gaga actually has talent and can play the piano beautifully. She’ll probably be around for a few years, but she appears intelligent and will have plenty of money to move on nicely. Maybe she’ll become a classical pianist or clothing designer-i’d be interesting.

  • Rick Evans

    What a wa$$$te of your just yesterday hard pledged dollars.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    Not a huge fan, but I can appreciate the theatre involved. She seems like a combination of Laurie Anderson (who I love) and Madonna (who I despise). Consequently, I’m ambivalent.

  • EB

    I am going to her concert in Boston next Thursday and am SO EXCITED!!!! She’s going to put on a great show!

  • AL

    How did dislike for Lady Gaga open up Rap music as a target? Not that I expected the OP audience to be full of hip hop fans. While there certainly is much crap in rap, I dont’ think it’s fair to dismiss an entire genre as worthless. I don’t listen to a lot of rap, but there’s great stuff out there beyond what you may hear on the radio or see on tv.

    Oh, and one Marketing behemoth we should all forget and/or ignore IS Miley Cyrus, EIO.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    It’s hard to imagine anyone conflating the subject of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. Either they’re not listening or they haven’t heard of this woman at all.

  • Joe

    This is a joke, right?

    A public radio show opining about the guru status of an absurdly coiffed, over-sexualized Madison Avenue created starlet who spouts “wisdom” like “BE YOURSELF,” and “GET EMPOWERED!”

    This would be pushing credulity if Ryan Seacrest were making the same points on Sunday morning AT40.

    I agree with many of the posts above…maybe should have saved this one for a little greater remove from the fund drive, talk about buyer’s remorse!

  • Gerald MacDonald

    Yawn!!! Flavour of the day. Good at marketing. Lucky to live in era of vacuous media saturation of personal foibles and desperate attempts at drawing attention to oneself.

    It’s only about empowering herself, not anyone else. It’s about drawing attention to herself, not anyone else.


  • somberlaine

    I much rather listen to Eric Cartman’s version of Poker Face :)

  • Steve

    Lady Gag-Gag

    just another marketing product of the pop music INDUSTRY.

    it does NOT take talent to be a pop “star”, just enough gullible followers to make money.

    She sounds like Cher and acts like Madonna, neither of whom were very original when they appeared.

    I do NOT fault her for working hard doing what she wants to do. I never have and never will fault anyone for pursuing their concept of art.

    I just don’t confuse that with the product. And yes, Virginia, there IS a difference !

  • Elysia

    She strikes me as another Madonna-clone; marginally talented, fairly attractive, loves to shock and supremely good at marketing her ‘brand’. I prefer my young singers with “empowerment” messages to be good singers (Pink comes to mind).
    Lady GaGa’s lyrics are laughable and simplistic. I have trouble taking the entire package seriously and am floored that so much press is being wasted on her.

  • Anna D

    She is a very talented young woman however the outrageous outfits and the over-the-top rolling on her video co-stars and stage performances detract from her message. If only she could focus on the music without the blatant sexual content.


    I noticed people don’t like Rap song.

    If you love music and if notice Rock and Rap do mix good together.

    RUM DMC started mixing rap and rock in the 80′s the first 2 groups that introduced a new Genre of music.

    The song Walk This Way was a great hit, it was the beginning of new groups like Linkin Park, Beastie Boys,Living Color,Incubus,POD,Rage Against the Machine, Depeche mode and more.

    These Musical bands blend RAP into their songs. Alicia Keys and Jay Z.

    As you can see Blacks invented Rock and Roll
    “It Is Nothing But A Hound Dog Howling All The Time”

    Elvis change that to “It is nothing but a hound dog rockin all the time” the rrst is history

  • Steve

    … and BTW – I’ll take P!nk any, and every, day :D

  • Faith

    In regard to Lady Gaga’s comments on being a feminist: She is 24 years old, for God’s sake. I am 43 and I’ve never been 100% sure if I’m a feminist. Perhaps she is developing a sense of who she is and what feminism is. The idea that feminism doesn’t even know who it is, is not unheard of.

  • steve

    if you want a smart pop star what about British Lilly Allen? its doubtful she would ever get American air play.

  • Shaia

    I think she is highly talented. For me her originality comes from actually being a performer vs. some of these pop artists that don’t even sing live anymore. Although your point about her saying that she is an example that anyone can do anything is true, isn’t that what every successful person stands for?

  • Brieanne

    Lady Gaga’s theatrics are brilliant and prove that she is both a Feminist and traditional woman at the same time. Her costumes and dances I believe are designed to promote female empowerment and strength. This is why she is appealing to both female and male audiences: women want to be empowered, and strong/dominating women are attractive to (most) men. If you see some of her more candid acoustic performances, you catch a glimpse of a softer side, which I believe proves her brilliance as an entertainer that can morph into exactly what her audience can connect to.

  • Caleb K

    New dog, old tricks. There is absolutely NOTHING original about Gaga, her lyrics, her vocal style, gesticulations, dress, etc. Madonna, Jackson, Spears, Lil Kim, every shock-sex-commodity-self irony performer of the 1980s and 1990s defined fully the territory and she has very proficiently and effectively taken up the mantle. Gaga is a skilled professional for sure but no innovator. Her messages are not challenging and simply reinforce myopia and individualist self-obsession. Where are the songs against sweatshops, slavery, inequality, oppression, war, corruption, ignorance, existential emptiness?

  • Elbert

    I saw her at the beginning of her pop career in Fall 2008 on Logo, the gay cable channel. Where as most pop stars will latch onto the gays for propelling further into popularity (Madonna only started that around Vogue and fighting AIDS midway in her stardom), Lady Gaga has been a champion for gay rights and positive gay image since day 1.

  • jeffe

    I just listened to about 15 minutes of this show before turning it off. I did hear one of the commentators mention that she represented the idea that it was OK being a freak or something to that effect. I’m of a generation that grew up with nonconformist such as Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, to name a fee. I’m also young enough to have been in my late 20′s when punk started to gain momentum and groups such as the Talking Heads were gaining notice.

    These musicians were nonconformist, Lady Gaga is not, but who cares. If people like this kind of stuff that’s their problem. It’s manufactured pop/disco using sex to sell it.
    How new and original. I do take issue with doing a show on her, I’m not sure why.

  • Mark S.

    Putrefactive garbage, as On Point continues its long, inexhorable slide…

  • CYM

    The difference between Gaga and the likes of Britney is the perception that Gaga made herself, whereas Britney was made.

    Also, I find her hypersexual image to be less alluring and more threatening in terms of traditional notions of (hetero)sexuality, hence the perception of empowerment.

  • Anna D

    About the stunt at the recent ball game, when did running around in your underwear not get you arrested for indecent exposure? Would other person get sanctioned for that?

  • Nina

    I think it is hilarious that folks get so worked up about whether Lady Gaga is “original” or not. What the in the world IS “original” especially in the history of pop music? When you make those comments you are simply revealing a nostalgia that means something to a few and nothing to most. She is a talented musician/composer and business woman. That she knows how to marshall the zeitgeist is impressive in a culture that has such a short attention span. I don’t care if she makes some long-lasting mark on music/popular culture. Why is that important?

  • Suzanne

    This show about lady gaga is a waste of my time and my support dollars. I am a lifelong singer/entertainer and it is sad to see her self generated media hype being given any face time on WBUR. She’s not a musician- she’s a phenomenon, as are so many entertainers of this day. A role model for today’s young woman?! Are you kidding?! If I had a daughter I would not want to have to justify her half clothed media opportunity at recent baseball games, or explain to her how this woman empowers any female. Mixed messages! Please-give me a break! Please WBUR,stick to spending an hour on talented women who are real role models!

  • John

    I live near Fenway Park and she is better behaved than the unruly mob that goes to those games.

  • fredericc


    Is this conversation happening on NPR?

    Not the topic.

    The topicality.

    Can the guests please step it up.

    Talk about society.

    Talk about feminism.

    TALK OVER MY HEAD. I’ll still listen.

    Of course, she should do what she does; she gives a sounding of the depth of character of our society.

  • http://N/A Pam Huggins

    There has been a humorous fall out from her fame in my family. As is the case with many families, my first grandchild was the one who “named” me. She (and my other granddaughter) call me Ga Ga. I am just waiting for them to give me a cone-shaped bra for Christmas! Lots of teasing about my grandmother “handle.”

    More seriously, I find her fame about as silly as most of these idols who are, at best, contrived and the opposite of “real.” She has a good voice… but I am too distracted by how outrageous she looks and acts to appreciate it. I am no conservative prude, but as a feminist, I think this kind of image and sexual stereotyping does more harm than good among our young girls.

    Staunton, VA

  • Joe Allonby

    Why doesn’t anybody see the obvious influence of Malcolm McLaren and his promotion of the Sex Pistols?

  • Brieanne

    I think what people are missing out on is the term “theatrics”. If one considers this, Lady Gaga can be seen as a character, not a “real” person. As a character, she is able to do things and say things that any “normal” person would not be able to (for censorship reasons, inhibitions, etc). The costumes continue to be worn off-stage, which gives us a clue that Lady Gaga continues to personify her alter-ego in everyday life. Comparing her to celebrities that “act-out” in public is not fair.

  • Monica

    I wish you would comment on the way her campy style is so clearly influenced by gay men.

  • Elysia

    Marginally talented, a master at marketing her ‘brand’, childish porn-y lyrics. If I wanted to listen to a young woman who sings about “personal empowerment”, I’ll listen to Pink (who has an amazing singing voice-unlike Lady Gaga who is auto-tuned to death). At least her lyrics are becoming more mature (pop is a relative scale, mind you).

    She’s epitomizing bland empty titillating crap to simpletons. Obvious repetitive hooks over disco beats. And it’s amazing that the media is falling over over themselves assigning some sort of depth to her product.

  • Heidi

    I was told that Gaga had tried to make it in the music business and wasn’t able to so someone (an agent or producer) suggested she create this persona. So is she a genius or simply pandering?
    I like her music. Her persona reminds me of Alice Cooper, Bowie, and Bjork.
    Gaga isn’t the only hypersexualized artist- recently heard a Rhiana song that shocked me- the lyrics included “can you get it up” etc.

  • Monica

    I am an over 30 music fan and I think she’s terrific on many fronts.

    But understand, not everyone can do what she does. She is actually a talented musician and a song writer. In case you forgot she was on-stage with one of the musical greats, Sir Elton John and she held her own across from him.

    The rest IS marketing. Brilliant Marketing.

  • Nick

    I’m surprised that young women are still struggling to express their sexuality in 2010?

    Lady Gaga is just another mainstream, music industry creation: accessable + a fad.

    There are far more creative, interesting artists: Peaches; Pink; Lily Allen; Metric; etc.

  • judy ritchie

    I am an NPR junkie and am once again amazed at the variety of topics that you cover. I actually have never heard of Lady Ga Ga, interesting show, but of note is the breath of your audience, young, old, across the country. Go figure, I will stop worrying that your appeal will wain as the baby boomers with a slightly liberal leaning die off. YOU GO NPR. THANKS

  • Brandon

    I could go into detail the ways GaGa has inspired me and others, but I will give you the short version. Not only does her music, interviews and Art inspire me GaGA promotes Equality and also teaches us to respect/build up one another instead of throwing others “under-the-bus”. That’s a life lesson our parents taught us, but so many ignore. I thank her for her art, her fame, our happiness.

  • JTV

    I can’t believe you’re wasting NPR air time on the no talent gimmick Lady GAG GAG (spelling intended) and with such lofty analysis yet! What’s tomorrows show; comparing The Jersey Shore and Shakespeare? She’d better hope the Hollywood Squares comes back on TV in a few months so she’ll have a place to sit!

  • fredericc

    This show is dissatisfying because I wish On Point had a different format.

    Where by the end of the show I will have learned about more than superficial details about the subject.

    I don’t have a strong opinion in general about Lady Gaga but, I would have enjoyed listening more if the details were fleshed out a bit more along the way.

    I wish I heard more about her education and jobs she may have had related or unrelated to the music industry.

    What set of technical skills she developed and how did she apply them in a new way.

    By my best estimation, of Lady Gaga I have heard probably, 15 minutes and seen about the same on local news teasers but, what I heard is viceral and catchy.

    This show only scratched the surface of deep cultural, societal, generational, etc. issues that should have been given more attention.

    A lot of today’s show seemed to be, forgive me, pandering.

    I suppose there is a reason On Point and many NPR shows are the way they are. Don’t get me wrong, there is no better talk radio on the Boston dial than NPR, (certainly not The Takeaway, annoying) but, I wish the format was longer or done in parts.

  • AAA

    Don’t hate her ’cause you ain’t her!

  • Sharon

    The part of this on-air discussion I found pertinent was why/why not let your children listen to Lady Gaga. One of the guests talked about young women who relate to Gaga using sex as empowerment. How far does our society have to degrade itself before we find there is no profit in these things – and I mean personal fulfillment, not money. The lowest common denominator assumes everyone is an island, even teens, and that we can all do whatever we want. Loving parents stand up and lead their children. There are absolutes, and this show just further highlighted the lascivious, selfish, impolite, calloused nature of the messages our society media-wise is sending out for relationships and behavior, whether it’s Lady Gaga or whoever. With thanks to the group, Sanctus Real, “We need to lead our children with strong hands, stand up to things they can’t,” and discuss with them “why”.


    NPR is not all About politics it is about the American community in how we view Politicians, Economics and Social Studies/Music.

    Are you not sick and tired of Politics? I am.

    A topic about Lady Gaga is not a waste of time. I think talking about politics is a waste of time for ordinary Americans. All the arguement and comments we post here on NPR about how to change the government is just another waste of American time.

    Come to think of it Gossip magazines sells a lot more than politics.

    People loves to talk about other people’s lives. It is the Human trait.

  • jeffe


    Don’t hate her ’cause you ain’t her! Did you get this from a fortune cookie?

    A topic about Lady Gaga is not a waste of time. I think talking about politics is a waste of time for ordinary Americans. All the arguement and comments we post here on NPR about how to change the government is just another waste of American time. Please, do tell? Maybe you should practice what your preaching.

    I could go into detail the ways GaGa has inspired me and others, but I will give you the short version. Not only does her music, interviews and Art inspire me GaGA promotes Equality and also teaches us to respect/build up one another instead of throwing others “under-the-bus”. Why do I find this comment so sad. Is that people find inspiration in made up pop iconography. Or that they are looking to a pop act too deal with social issues. She’s not Fela Kuti that’s for sure. Or Pink as was already mentioned.

  • justanother

    Alright, she is equipped with basic skills, which has okay voice and okay piano skill, but she knows herself well enough that her “basic skills” won’t make her famous and outstanding. Then her best skill is to borrow here and there and repackage them, like a combo on the fast food menu in a fast food chain. Who doesn’t like a cheap meal that can satisfy their short burst of attention span.

    ***I do NOT fault her for working hard doing what she wants to do. I never have and never will fault anyone for pursuing their concept of art.*** by Steve

    This is how I feel about it too. If all her fans or media don’t put her in the category of “talented” recording/performing artist, I have no problem with her approach and music, I probably just won’t sit there and listen. BUT….. if she’s being praisesd as a “risk taking”, “talented”, “innovated” artist, now I have a HUGE problem. Those are pretty high remarks for truly highly original recording artist, and she by far doesn’t deserve those entitlement yet.

    Her voice sounds very forcing when she sings higher pitch, that’s why she wrote songs to fit her voice, all ended up with fake forcing singing technique.

  • justanother

    And give me a break on the “message” GaGa trying to spread, like “empowerment”, “be yourself”, com’on, you mean to tell me these thinking and attitude is new, it’s been around after WWII.

    People can be so forgiving on pop music, a little bit of depth can earn them a huge praise of being talented?

  • justanother

    To be fair, there are great rap and hip pop music out there, poetic, great beat, and great lyrics, they are most likely not played on the radio. I would rather listen to those raps than Lady GaGa.

    Michael Franti’s early works have more raps/hip pop/R&B, these 2 cds are great, dealing with social injustice and issues.

    1994: Home
    1997: Chocolate Supa Highway

  • justanother

    Another 2 great cds from Michael Franti, which is 2 of my favorites of his early works:

    2001: Stay Human
    2003: Everyone Deserves Music

  • justanother

    ***This is why she is appealing to both female and male audiences: women want to be empowered, and strong/dominating women are attractive to (most) men**** by Brieanne

    Not so true, strength doesn’t always mean dominance, or appear fierce. This is when people mistaken power and dominance as Feminism. The reason Feminism rose is for the same reason because men in old society are given too much power and dominance.

    The ultimate goal of Feminism is about equality, not about power and dominance struggle. True Feminism doesn’t stop at sexuality empowerment, which ironically most men probably love to embrace sexual power to women, :D.

    Just a side note, not all men are attracted to aggressive dominant woman, especially outside of U.S. Being aggressive or dominant only when you demand “equality”, if you overuse your empowerment, you become abusive, same things goes to freedom which are often so wrongly interpreted by some people.

  • justanother

    ****Of course, she should do what she does; she gives a sounding of the depth of character of our society.****

    Well put! If you make it in this society, doesn’t matter how/why/what, you are considered “successful” as long as you possess rich and famous.

  • mick

    I can’t believe this program! The fact that anyone is trying to breath credibility into a typical exploitative pop flash in the pan is hilarious! Why don’t you have Kate Goselin on to discuss the implications of the decision to appoint Gen Patreaus or ask Bristol Palin what she would do about the oil spill. This is a low point in NPR. The fact that you can find some pseudo intellectuals to discuss this topic is a hoot! Do you want to know what is wrong with America? It is an obsessive addiction to trivial non-consequential crap.

  • steve krauss

    Oh. My. Goodness. This woman Maura has said “sort of” about 977 times and we’re only 10 minutes into the show. Please, Maura, cut it out.

  • Ingrid

    Comparisons to Madonna and Michael Jackson make sense in terms of reference to “pop stardom”, but some distinctions should be made. Madonna and Lady Gaga both draw from and play with elements of fashion and pop culture, and have become iconic for this manipulation. Michael Jackson, on the other hand, had a depth of pure artistry in his singing and especially his dancing– an artistry that was separate from all the trappings of pop-star status and fashion.

  • peter nelson

    Oh, good grief!

    Lady GaGa is a POP star! Her job is to be entertaining and have hit records. She’s very good at what she does. I have very broad musical tastes – sometimes I like chamber music, sometimes I like sea shanties, sometimes I like show music, and sometimes I like rap and pop music, including Lady GaGa! (and a lot of other genres besides)

    Why do we load up pop stars with some mythical requirement that they be socially relevant or set a good example or make a political statement? Some caller complained that Lady GaGa doesn’t talk about the war. Jane Clayson should have asked the caller why she doesn’t make pop music.

    When I was in Wellesley High School in the 1960′s my music teacher, Mr Drew, put me on detention because I argued with him in class when he claimed that Beatles music was just trash and in a few years they would be forgotten. Two things haven’t changed since then – I still like to argue, and old people still criticize young people’s music!

  • cynthpop

    Oh man! It’s amazing that Gaga stirs such emotion and anger. I think she is wonderful. A true performance artist who has broken through to the mainstream. Really, her lyrics are not so shocking. Have the guests even listened to them? Do you have a sense of humor at all?? 17 year-old Miley Cyrus is much more controversial! Oh and by the way there is footage of her on YouTube speaking up against the war. She has a peace sign tattooed on her wrist, people.

  • justanother


    I think lots of people are aware of the generation gaps in musical taste, some may not. I’m sure there are mixed feeling in discussion here as well. But I can assure you the love and hate with Lady GaGa is not only about age gap. I’ve known people didn’t like Madonna 20 years ago still remain the same. I like a lot of musicians in all genres a lot younger than me, or a lot older then me.

    Believe me, I can care less to critique her music/ performance, and some of them are fun to watch. And that’s about it. But her fans and medias has to stop giving her such high remarks about how talented, innovated, risk taker, a true artist…blah blah blah……, if so, she has to live up to those remarks. Sorry, she doesn’t deserve those critical remarks YET!

    That’s the problem today with lots of movie critics, they hype up so many movies, make great reviews. Then you come out of the theater disappointed, puzzled….

  • justanother

    Talk about a true innovative, talented pop vocalist/musician/recording artist — BJORK!

    Bjork’s music is one of a kind in her own right. Often times people argue about what originality really means. Originality is not you make something your own out of nothing, it is you make something uniquely your own out of everything, and no one has done it!

    I have a problem with people describing Lady GaGa as a risk taker. A true artist, they don’t consider their art as risk taking, they are simply experimenting and exploring their curiosity, unless they are so bound to commercial music industry, all about record selling, their art has to be compromised, like Lady GaGa’s. So don’t make it more than what it is.

    And NO, I have no reason to hate Lady GaGa, and YES, I have reason to challenge the high remarks that she wears.

  • justanother

    No one is expecting a pop artist to tackle political issues. They don’t have to delve into these issues to be a great pop artist.

  • Maggie

    Steve noticed the same thing I did. Maura Johnston was incapable of communicating without saying “sort of” excessively. Agitated me.

  • Caiti

    Concerning parenting and Lady Gaga, especially the caller that said something about how parents shouldn’t let their kids hear her because her lyrics are on the verge of pornographic. I think it’s a little unreasonable to think that as a parent you can completely prevent your children from experiencing or hearing about anything to do with Lady Gaga, especially in our extreme media centered lives. Instead, I feel that whether or not you condone her lyrics, performance style or sexuality, it’s more important to use the things she does as a point of conversation with your children. Hear about what they think about her and why, and allow that to be a forum whereby you can respectfully talk about your concerns with your child.

  • justanother

    I thought this comment on Facebook pretty interesting, LOL!

    “Here’s Lady GaGa plan/Strategy:

    Step 1: Shock & Awe
    Step 2: Change as she goes
    Step 3: No exit strategy, might stay for a while whether you like it or not…. See More

    Sounds familiar? This type of strategy works on all industries, like military, music and our financial system.”

  • Michael

    While I think that while Lady Gaga might just be the newest edition in a long line of crappy diva pop stars I also have to say that in that line she has more to offer than most. Gaga does more than just push sexual promiscuity, she clearly calls on her fans to question thier own identity. While she is not always the most positive role model for children her actions are largely indicative of the culture that she is speaking to and within the context of that culture I feel that she is making a postive impact. Also Gaga is alot less crappy than most and she seems to be writing her own lyrics so overall I’m impressed.

  • justanother

    It really amazes me when the better out of “the worst” got the most credit and glamour, people would find anything positive about her even though she’s not that so. And we have to hit rock bottom to find such a glimmer.

    There are sooooo… many truly talented musicians out there that never got the publicity. Now you know why there’s a genre of “pop”, so that we can lower our expectation and give them the free ticket to ride the train of rich and famous, even though they suck. She has to have something to sell, right? After all, this is one of very few commodity America exports today, pop culture.

  • justanother

    Continued from last post…..

    This whole discussion about her is the true example of “Emperor’s new cloth”……

  • ben

    I can’t wait for her to be forgotten. Give me a break.

  • LP

    Pretty boring show! This is the same conversation that gets recycled every several years, whether it’s about Madonna, Brittney, Christina, or whomever else the corporate music industry is pushing.

    (and for the record, I’ve heard a few of Lady Gaga’s songs in passing, but she’s barely on my radar since I’m listening to NPR most of the time!)

  • justanother

    ***[...] Why So Gaga About Lady Gaga? | WBUR and NPR – On Point with Tom … Posted in Uncategorized [...]

    Posted by Why So Gaga About Lady Gaga? | WBUR and NPR – On Point with Tom … | Lady Gaga Planet, on June 25th, 2010 at 8:27 AM***

    Our of curiosity, can anyone tell me what this means when On Point posts this on the forum randomly?

  • peter nelson

    Our of curiosity, can anyone tell me what this means when On Point posts this on the forum randomly?

    On Point didn’t post it. It’s being linked-back-to by another blog. Follow the link in the poster’s signature, e.g., to Lady Gaga Planet. It’s just standard web protocol to tell you that another blog is linking to our discussion.

  • david

    When a society starts to degenerate and decay it gives off a stench, this is an example of that stench.

  • justanother

    Thanks, Peter!

  • justanother

    I just started to listen to this show, yeah, Maura Johnston did a lot of “sort of…” & “I mean…”.

    I was wondering, is it possible the reason she does this when she talks about a 3rd party, and trying to leave space for not sounding too imposing her own opinion on Lady GaGa?

  • http://wbur LF

    If you think Lady Gaga has no musical talent, please watch this:

    Madonna could never do that.

    In addition, like Picasso had to master realism before branching out, Gaga is classically trained and has the talent, not just the theatrics.

    I know tweens and adult feminists alike who love her. I find her to be an amazing entertainer and commentator on pop culture, as well as a woman who is having the last laugh.

  • Ishmael

    Undoubtedly talented; the “voice of an age”? I doubt it. Flash in the pan, but a pretty impressive one. An important criterion for good pop music is if it is attractive in the absence of imagery (visuals); here is where Lady Gaga isn’t so successful. She is equal parts music and visual extravaganza, in fact she appears frightened of appearing in the same garb twice.
    The is the Madonna of 2010, that seems pretty sure (but might not be the Madonna of 2011); probably too honest and esoteric to outlast Brittany Spears.
    Was interesting, incidentally, to read public commentary from the right-wing-nuts after Lady Gaga came out as bisexual: they can’t stand anything resembling tolerance.

  • dadaist

    This lady is much more than the haters here can fathom. I’m a 50 year old straight male, who has been involved in the business for 30 years as a player, promoter, club-owner and aficionado. I have been peripherally aware of her, (who could not be?) but when my 20 yr old daughter visited recently, she spurred me to do some research. What I found, in listening to all of her stuff, old and new, and her interviews, (which are many, and legendary) was a true artistic and musical visionary. She has written every note and lyric of her debut album which has shattered every record for a new artist. She stages every aspect of her live shows from her own vision, and sings every note, live, and has never used an auto-tune.

    I understand it’s normal for people to hate what they can’t understand, but the age of Gagaism has only just begun. When her new album drops in the new year, you will see.

    In the meantime, I would suggest viewing some of her interviews posted on you-tube. Her intelligence, her soul, and her vision will amaze you.

    Also enlightening.:



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