Big doings today with the release of Gaga’s new single “Born This Way.” I haven’t seen such excitement in the music world since….Well, I was about to say something about Justin Bieber but I’ll stifle myself. Anyhow, I happen to like her music and, aside from her raw meat outfit, thinks she’s an interesting performance artist.
The question a lot of music critics are asking today is this: Is Lady Gaga merely a ripoff of Madonna, who, years before there was a Gaga, wore shocking outfits and sang provocative lyrics and wrote very danceable tunes that became huge hits?
My take? “Ripoff” is way too strong. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I just think Gaga is this era’s version of Madonna, an artist she’s said to admire. The music business has always had artists who sound like other artists, going back to Bob Dylan who was later imitated by the Byrds and then Tom Petty. Isn’t Beyonce a newfangled version of Diana Ross, both having started out as lead singers of three-girl groups? And going back many years ago, weren’t Simon and Garfunkel a couple of guys with perfect harmony who reminded people of the Everly Brothers? Wasn’t Jerry Lee Louis a white version of Little Richard?
My point is that it’s very unusual to have a wholly original sound and look. Lady Gaga may owe a debt of gratitude to Madonna, but Madonna owes the same debt to somebody, doesn’t she? Who?