The Appeal of Madonna vs. The Appeal of Lady Gaga

Gaga Wrapped

Gay Light Bulb Moment!

I think I’ve figured out what’s fundamentally different from Madonna and her protege-without-permission Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga makes bold statements with her words during interviews, her fashion and her performances, but her songs themselves are mostly standard pop music. She claims there’s a deeper meaning behind them and I believe it, but she doesn’t actually express that meaning. Poker Face might really be about bisexuality and Paparazzi might really be about media killing those with fame, but the lyrics of the songs themselves just suggest cliche sexy pop themes, nothing extraordinary. Even Gaga’s best music (and make no mistake, she has some great music) is still pop music that rarely makes a truly bold statement. Whenever she DOES attempt to make a bold statement, as with Born This Way, Speechless, or Dope, it comes off sounding inauthentic and forced, and a little cringey.

With Madonna, however, the message is right there in the music and doubly so in the performance. When she says “I’ve made up my mind, I’m keeping my baby,” she’s making a bold statement, and for the time in which she said it it was in incredibly bold statement. It’s the same with all of her music. With each new album she reinvents herself and chooses a new direction, and though there are plenty of standard love song and breakup ballads, she makes bold statements and follows through with them, rather than just hinting at them. Making her songs even more powerful are the fact that Madonna said the things she was saying and expressed her sexuality at a time when people didn’t openly flaunt their bodies on stage in an attempt to sell records. When Madonna rolled around grinding the stage on the VMAs, she was making an actual statement about freedom of sexuality, but when Britney Spears did it it meant nothing, it was a marketing campaign and she herself probably never put any thought into the performance. Madonna still has staying power, her newest album is ripe with fantastic pop music as well as messages that are sometimes hard to swallow, but always topical, and always true.

Madonna might not have the singing chops Gaga has, but Madonna reinvented pop music, and Lady Gaga is simply doing more of the same. I really love both artists, but even though Lady Gaga brings her own brand of weirdness to pop music, her open appeal to the gay audience (something that, by the way, every pop star since Judy Garland has had) has rallied crowds of fans around her who are so obsessed with her that they don’t even look at what messages she does try to send, and insist that Madonna is “tired” and “old,” but between the two of them, Madonna was the one who forever changed pop culture, and the one who continues to reinvent herself with each new album. Her voice hasn’t gone downhill, her performances haven’t gone downhill, she is still just as relevant today, as are her songs from the 80’s. In twenty years, I still think that “I’ve made up my mind, I’m keeping my baby” will have more of an impact that “Puh-puh-puh-po-ker-face-puh-puh-po-ker-face.”

The Hundred-Year-Old Piano

Well well. There is not much reason for this post, I’m sitting up in bed. Tomorrow is supposed to be our big move day, so by then maybe I’ll have my whole room moved over to the new house, which it seems will not include my piano because my mom is insisting that it not come into my room.

She doesn’t believe me when I say I won’t play it at night, at least enough to bother her anyway. And I have a very expensive keyboard I got for Christmas, unfortunately it has no speakers and I just don’t have the equipment to harness it’s potential, it doesn’t have weighted keys, and I don’t really love it’s sound. It’s not that it’s a bad keyboard, I just don’t particularly care for it’s sound, and some of the “piano” functions on it don’t quite sound right, the upper half is impossible to hear no matter how hard you press the keys, and the lower half is the opposite. It does however have a fully functioning set of keys, unlike my piano which has (and has always had, so long as I’ve been in possession of it) a broken high E key. I almost kind of wish we weren’t moving just so I could keep my poor piano in my room with me 😦 But it seems it will be going to the garage, where hopefully it will survive and will not be warped by whatever forces of nature creep through the walls, and also where everyone will hopefully take care of it. I’m still going to try one more shot at my mom letting me put it in my room or at least the living room, because who doesn’t want a piano in the living room? It’s the perfect living room piece, a hundred year old wooden piano.

Oh yes, and on another note regarding the piano, the manufacturer is Marcellus, who I cannot seem to find anywhere on the internet. Am I sitting on some sort of piano gold mine here? (Not that I’d sell it if it were, alright maybe I would, but I’d feel lost without it, I’m accustomed to it’s sound and my abilites pertaining to it, I’d be afraid that if I got rid of my piano I wouldn’t be the same musician. Which I don’t want to be, I want to evolve, but still I want it around, it’s become a friend.)

I’m feeling very British right now, my inner monologue while I’m typing this is speaking with Imogen Heap’s voice, mostly because I’ve been watching some of her vBlogs. We pretty much finished cleaning today, I listened to Madonna, Britney Spears, and the Eurythmics on my MP3 player while doing so. Did I mention I got an MP3 player? 40 Dollars at Wal-Mart, not too bad. It’s file-based, in that you can just add and delete songs via the folders inside it like a flash drive, which I like, but it’s hard to customize the music and put all the right information in and give it album art, so I had to download this program called MediaMonkey solely for the purpose of putting album art on, and while it works it’s a little odd and doesn’t always quite cooperate with me.

Ah yes, and the Eurythmics. I’ve had their old Greatest Hits album for a while now, but I hadn’t listened to much of it, and I put it on my MP3 Player last night and listened through a lot of it today, it’s actually quite nice. I think I have a similar musical taste to Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, although I get the feeling it might be more with Annie Lennox. So I had to go and look up who the other member of the Eurythmics was and I’ve just been reading some of the Wikipedia article, and as it turns out, the song 17 Again is a Eurythmics song! I had no idea! I remember really liking this song when I heard it in an episode of Will and Grace a long time ago, it was so emotional and gave the episode of reality and depth.  After writing that sentence I went and watched the music video, the song is really beautiful, I think maybe be a full-blown Eurythmics enthusiast now. Well, somewhere above fan and slightly under enthusiast maybe. It’s getting late and I have a tendency to be indecisive with how I word things.

On the note of the Eurythmics, here are some songs I would recommend listening to: obviously you’ve probably heard Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), it’s a great song but I burned myself out on it by listening to it too many times, Missionary Man, Here Comes the Rain Again, Who’s That Girl, 17 Again, and there are more, just get the Greatest Hits collection or the newer one, I think maybe I’ll have to get it too. Also, as Annie Lennox goes, she has this very cute and unique song called Keep Young and Beautiful that I was just struck by because of how original and simple an idea it is to make a song in the style of the 1950’s or so, I couldn’t say precisely when. I also like the song Big Sky, and the album Songs of Mass Destruction is pretty good, I haven’t heard it without commentary on top of the songs because the disc I put on my MP3 player was someone elses who I ripped to the computer, and as it turns out I ripped the commentary disc. But I actually really like the commentary, it makes me feel like I don’t want to go back to listening to regular music without commentary after I’ve been hearing it for a while.

Well since I’ve gotten onto the subject of music reccomendations, I’d may as well continue with it. I’ve had Madonna’s new “greatest hits” album Celebration for a while now, but I haven’t really paid it much mind, since a lot of the songs are precisely the brand of pop music that I dislike, but I enjoy her more recents songs, much more than the others at least. I used to really like Like A Virgin back when I was about 13, but that’s another one of those good songs that I’ve heard so many times I don’t really like it anymore. Anyhoo, if you’d like some reccomendations on some Madonna songs, and you will be getting them whether you like it or not, I’d reccomend: Hung Up, Music, 4 Minutes, Like A Virgin, Sorry, Miles Away, Hollywood, Die Another Day, and Celebration (which I didn’t think would be good and I discovered I actually really like, for the first couple minutes anyway, I like the verses much more than the chorus). Like A Prayer is not a bad song, but it’s one of the songs where Madonna attempts to serenade, and her voice sounds a bit too strained for my tastes, but there is another version of it called the “churchapella” version that is supposed to be much better. I’ve heard both versions, but not extensively.

Oh yes, and one more note. Imogen Heap has introduced me to an African instrument called an mbira, and I think the sound is so wonderful, and I would really like to get one for myself. I have discovered that Imogen plays the Array Mbira, and I’ve just gone to their website and the prices for the mbiras are mostly between 1,000 and 2,600 dollars. Well it looks like I’ll have to start myself an mbira fund, hopefully it will still be an original thing to do by the time I get one and put it on my album.

I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful coming day, be safe and be happy 🙂

P.S. One last thing, here are a few albums I would like to get at some point, and that I would advise you guys to try out too!

Plague Songs – Various Artists (including Imogen Heap and Rufus Wainwright)

Ellipe – Imogen Heap

The Collection – Alanis Morissette

Songs For Tibet – Various Artists (including Imogen Heap, Alanis Morissette, Vanessa Carlton, Regina Spektor, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Suzanne Vega, Moby, and more)