Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lady Gaga Clones will Make Us Feel Stupid in 2020

One of the latest in a long line of shock rockers, Lady Gaga caught the world off-guard in 2010 with her outrageous attire more so than her semi-listenable music. Part of both a marketing scheme and an art collective, the singer uses her body as an experimental canvas for avante garde fashion—stunning, surprising, and sometimes disgusting the general public. Outfits have ranged from relatively classy dresses to glorified underwear to raw meat.

The world perceives this as a new concept. The truth is that her outfits and approach to the style are relatively original, but the concept itself is not. We’ve seen dozens of artists over the years push the envelope and reach widespread acknowledgement, including Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop. More accurately, you could compare her style to Madonna (but she’ll be upset if you do).

Yes, in the 80s and 90s, Madonna repeatedly shocked the world by being overtly sexual, performing in underwear and posing in the nude. She was heavily involved in the fashion industry and had a team of people who worked on her image. Those days are over, but only for her.

While the rest of the music industry were off acting like space robots, Lady Gaga jumped onto the scene with Swedish-pop-influenced dance tunes and music videos with a creative, fresh style. She heads a group of artists not unlike those of Andy Warhol’s Factory who constantly brainstorm and create new looks for her. When she appears in public wearing such outfits, reactions are polarized. Indeed, her mysterious persona actually lends her a bit of credibility in this regard, as if she were a living, singing Warhol.

Unfortunately her bold experimentation has given other artists carte blanche to dress wacky, hiding behind the excuse that “Lady Gaga’s doing it.” They have erroneously interpreted this newfound fashion sense to be an excuse for themselves to “push the envelope,” and though this might succeed in some cases, it usually just feels weird.

Lady Gaga put herself on the chopping block and took a chance, inviting ridicule and potential failure in the process. Her progression through increasingly ridiculous costumes is more of a linear trend than an intentional ploy; her collective simply builds on the last piece’s objectives. Being known for her over-the-top style is why she gets away with it.

New Age Elvira
But these other artists are guilty of attempts to put themselves into her position. Sure, they may have artists approaching them to wear their hideous creations and risk-taking fashion experiments, but it’s not quite like the collective that generates the Gaga attire. Probably the biggest current offender is singer Nicki Minaj.

She started out trying the sexual route like Lil’ Kim, morphed into a space robot, and then ended up Gaga-esque, even if her music is vastly different. Because she doesn’t carry that air of mystique, and we know a good bit about her authentic personality, her fashion sense just come off as ridiculous.

The eye claw
Famed singer—ahem, talker—Kesha, known for a few songs about drinking too much and vomiting all over yourself, has tried the Gaga vibe herself, but to no avail. In fact, fans have quickly picked up on the imitation, not homage, and pointed to fashion experiments that mirror those Gaga already tried.

Lil’ Mama, currently well known as a judge on America’s Best Dance Crew has progressed from her beloved hop-hop style into an arguably unfortunate style. I'm not even going to describe it. Just look.

Lil' Mama
Yes, pushing the envelope is good; shocking parents is fun, and kids like it. Experimentation leads to breakthroughs in fashion and art. This is one reason for such stupid looking outfits in “high fashion” shows: It’s not because anybody’s actually going to wear that stuff, it’s because no one’s seen it before and some aspect of it will probably catch on and become popular.

When we have an artist such as Lady Gaga trying something different, and it’s her thing, we can all look back on it and laugh in ten years. But if everyone’s else is doing it too, we’ll just end up embarrassed for the entire era. Remember the 80s?

UPDATE: I watched the latest episode of America's Best Dance Crew tonight. Nicki Minaj and Lil' Mama touched without exploding.

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