In 2008, Lady Gaga was the best popstar in the world.
In 2009, Lady Gaga was the best popstar in the world.
In 2010, Lady Gaga was the best popstar in the world.
In 2011, Lady Gaga was the best popstar in the world.
In 2012, Lady Gaga was the best popstar in the world.
In 2013, Lady Gaga was still just about the best popstar in the world.
In 2014, Lady Gaga released a jazz album.
Except actually it wasn’t really a Lady Gaga jazz album. A Lady Gaga jazz album would have seen Lady Gaga doing to jazz what Lady Gaga did to pop: identifying the best bits, inventing some even better bits, turning the whole thing inside out and thrilling the world.
Lady Gaga’s Tony Bennett duets album ‘Cheek To Cheek’ was not something that conformed to Gaga’s brand values at all. When you consider how experimental, avant-garde and breathtakingly insane jazz can be, and when you consider how incendiary it could have been to add Lady Gaga to the mix, the album she released was almost offensively pedestrian.
We kept reading things about ‘Cheek To Cheek’ being a brave move. It didn’t sound very brave to us. What’s brave about releasing an album of easy listening covers for the Q4 market?
This said, Gaga got to make an album she could be truly passionate about, and as anyone who follows her on Twitter will tell you, she was thrilled by the good reviews the album received from esteemed critics. Where’s the harm in that?
Several years ago Lady Gaga made a promise: POP MUSIC WILL NEVER BE LOWBROW.
It’s hard to see where this fits in with ‘Cheek To Cheek’, an album through which Lady Gaga was apparently attempting to be taken seriously, in certain circles, for the first time. The idea, in so far as we could understand it, was that ‘Cheek To Cheek’ would allow Gaga’s true artistry to shine through.
We’re not sure that’s the Lady Gaga we fell in love with.
The Lady Gaga we fell in love with would say “FUCK YOU” to anyone who only took her seriously when she adhered to conservative notions of talent and artistry. She’d say “FUCK YOU” to anyone who considered ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Alejandro’ or ‘Poker Face’ somehow unworthy of rigorous critical attention simply because they were pop songs. And she’d say “FUCK YOU” to anyone who finally complimented her on her vocal talents just because they were being used away from a drum machine.
Maybe we got her wrong at the start. Maybe she was using pop to get somewhere else, when we thought she was using pop to make pop a better place. Maybe the Gaga we thought we fell in love with never really existed at all.
Actually that’s bollocks. We’re absolutely sure she did exist. And while some have written her off, we also feel with complete certainty that the Lady Gaga who once ruled the planet will one day exist again. We’re not sure when that’ll be, but we do know that she’d have been back in the game a lot sooner if she’d taken a year off instead of releasing ‘Cheek To Cheek’.