A virtual unknown six years ago, Lady Gaga has since managed to usurp Madonna as the gay community’s pop diva of choice thanks to a string of empowering anthems, a series of outlandish visual statements and a devotion to supporting LGBT rights which has bordered on the messianic. But ever since she burst onto the radar with “Just Dance,” there has also been an increasing amount of suspicion that her dedication to the cause isn’t entirely genuine.
On the surface, it’s a theory which doesn’t hold too much water. The artist formerly known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta began her career performing in small gay clubs around the States, while her first live televised appearance came on the NewNowNext Awards show aired by LBGT station Logo.
And following the confession that she’d had relationships with both men and women during the promotion of her debut album, The Fame, she embarked on a one-woman crusade to bring equal rights to the forefront of the political and social spectrum, attacking Pope Benedict for his views on same-sex marriage (“they don’t matter to the world”), criticizing the homophobic attitudes of several European countries, and describing gay people as ‘revolutionaries of love.’
Her most famous stunt, of course, occurred at the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards, when she was accompanied by four gay/lesbian members of the armed forces who had been unable to serve openly because of the US military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, even if her message was slightly overshadowed by her now infamous meat dress.
But her activism hasn’t always been so gimmicky. In the same year, she uploaded three YouTube videos urging her ‘Little Monsters’ to contact senators to overturn the DADT rule, while in 2011, she managed to broker a deal with retail giant Target to sell a limited edition of her second album, Born This Way, but only on the condition they severed all ties with their previous anti-gay causes.
Initially, her overwhelming support for the LGBT community was met with a positive response. The Advocate described her as the ‘real fierce advocate’ that Barack Obama had promised to be, while the Trevor Project’s Trevor Hero Award was one of many accolades she received for her humanitarian work.
However, as Gaga’s actions became more and more overt, heavy-handed and arguably condescending, a growing sense of disdain towards the star emerged, none more so than when the title track from Born This Way was unleashed on the unsuspecting public.
Of course Gaga has never been one for understatement, but her ‘ultimate gay anthem’ was about as subtle as a sledgehammer with such words of wisdom as ‘don’t be a drag, just be a queen.’ Admittedly, its idealistic message of acceptance was lapped up by some of her younger crowd, who perhaps weren’t even born when Madonna’s “Express Yourself” covered the same theme and sound back in 1989.
But for many, it was an all too contrived attempt to create an “I Will Survive” for the Grindr generation. Her intentions may have been good, but ultimately, not every gay man and woman sees themselves as the outsider that she portrays in the song’s clumsy lyrics, and in fact rather than giving a voice to a minority group, she took it away by claiming that every single person in it possessed the same clichéd and stereotypical personality. Indeed, rather than the liberal champion of gay rights she purports to be, there’s an argument that her sometimes simplistic views of the LGBT community is as damaging and as conservative as the most right-wing Christian groups’.
Gaga herself has refuted accusations that she is exploiting her gay fans in order to sell records, telling The Advocate in an interview last year: “I would say the top thing I think about every single day of my life, other than my fans, loving the music, and my family being healthy, is social justice and equality.”
While during a press conference at Canada’s 2011 Much Music Awards, she acknowledged the fact that not everyone wants her to be the ambassador for gay culture: “If some people don’t want to be defined by me as their mother, that’s wonderful. I don’t view it in that way. I view it as being part of the generation, not as the leader.”
Whatever your views on her attention-seeking publicity stunts and apparent delusions of grandeur, there’s little doubt that Gaga’s moralistic campaign is from the heart and that it is also responsible, if not for changing attitudes, then at least for thrusting certain issues into the limelight. But if she continues to deliver her messages in such a clumsy way, then she runs the risk of alienating the majority of people she’s aiming to represent.
Good news for Gaga fans, as the Lady herself has just announced that she’s set to embark on a North American arena tour in support of her most recent album, ARTPOP.
Lady Gaga tweeted yesterday, explaining the details of the trek, saying, “artRave: The ARTPOP Ball will be a full on party combining music, fashion & technology in one explosive performance! And the best part is, tickets will be available for as low as $35, and $85 for general admission seating which puts you INSIDE THE STAGE.”
I don’t know what that means, either, but it sounds pretty exciting.
That said, when one fan told Gaga: “I want the whole floor to be like the pit and have gaga be able to walk around the whole outside of the floor”, she simply replied “Hmmm :),” which could offer a few clues.
The 25-date mega trek is set to kick off on May 4th at the BB&T Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida before moving onto a host of other cities including Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and even Canadian dates in Toronto and Vancouver before wrapping up on July 21st in Los Angeles.
Her last tour was 2012’s massive “Born This Way Ball”, which featured a three-story medieval castle and extravagant set pieces such as a mechanical horse, the infamous Grammy egg and a motorcycle that doubled as a costume. We’re not sure how she comes up with this stuff either.
Unfortunately, the show’s choreography led to a hip injury that required surgery for Gaga and necessitated the cancellation of more than a dozen dates earlier this year. The new tour will include several cities she had to drop from her itinerary because of the injury.
ARTPOP, Gaga’s most recent album, did open at No. 1 when it was released in November, but its first-week sales paled in comparison to releases from Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus. She also parted ways with her longtime manager a week before the album hit stores and a recent Thanksgiving special for ABC centered on the album and the Muppets flopped.
Before kicking off her new tour, Gaga is scheduled to perform a sold-out series of shows at New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom in late March. The seven-night stint will be the last shows at Roseland, and will set the record for the most consecutive shows by any artist at the venue. Musicians love setting records, apparently.
Not exactly a stranger to the concept of the celebrity feud, Madonna’s lengthy reign as the Queen of Pop never really came under any genuine threat from those who dared to challenge for her crown. That was of course until Lady Gaga arrived all guns blazing at the tail end of the 00s. Displaying a similar blend of controversy, self-empowerment and brain-lodging pop hooks, the young pretender quickly became a credible contender to dethrone the Material Girl in the space of twelve months. But inevitably, Madonna wasn’t going to give up without a fight.
The pair’s relationship initially began rather amicably, with both appearing in the same Saturday Night Live skit together in 2009 to stage a mock catfight which would later become a little too prescient. Gaga even admitted ‘that there is really no one that is a more adoring and loving Madonna fan than me’ in an interview with talk show host Jay Leno. However, it took just one song for them to turn from allies into passive-aggressive enemies.
Released in 2011, Gaga’s mission statement and title track from her second album, Born This Way, may have instantly struck a chord with her younger Little Monsters. But for anyone born before the mid-80s, it immediately conjured up a sense of déjà vu thanks to its undeniable similarity to Madonna’s 1989 hit, “Express Yourself.” So much so that the 22-year-old single even re-charted in several countries in the week of Born This Way’s premiere.
At first, both parties remained fairly quiet on the matter. However, almost a year later it seems Madonna couldn’t bite her tongue any longer, brazenly telling Newsweek magazine that she thought it was ‘a wonderful way to redo my song’ and that she ‘recognized the chord changes.’ Gaga acknowledged the latter in an interview with the NME but otherwise angrily described the comparisons as ‘completely ridiculous.’
But as to be expected, the increasingly warring rivals saved their best pot-shots for the public arena. Madonna kicked off the tit-for-tat battle when she began performing a mash-up of the two tracks during her MDNA tour, also informing fans that she was a huge fan of “Born This Way” because she ‘helped to write it’ before mischievously leading into a number entitled “She’s Not Me.”
Rather surprisingly, Gaga originally didn’t rise to the provocation. Without referencing Madonna specifically, she appeared quite content to play the victim, telling crowds in Israel that ‘it sometimes makes people feel better about themselves to put other people down or make mockery of their work,’ while adding that ‘we don’t have to all slice and hate each other anymore.’
However, Madonna didn’t seem to take any notice of her rival’s more mature stance or call for a truce. During a gig in Atlantic City, she dedicated recent single, “Masterpiece,” to Gaga, before delivering the back-handed compliment, ‘I love her – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ and promising fans that the pair would one day share a stage together.
Gaga certainly didn’t share the latter sentiment, declining an offer by Madge to appear at her Yankee stadium gig because she was too busy with her own Born This Way Ball tour, and perhaps fed up with the constant sniping, finally went on the offensive herself. Following the furor over Madonna’s use of a machine gun prop at her Murrayfield Stadium show just two days after the Denver cinema massacre, Gaga then appeared to mock the stunt by brandishing the same prop during a concert in Milan.
Proving that she too also has friends in high places, Elton John then leapt to the defense of his son Zachary’s godmother, telling the press that Madonna had been horrible to Gaga while in a typically bitchy outburst, described her as a ‘fairground stripper’ whose career is over.
While Gaga’s denials of plagiarism on Born This Way don’t hold too much water, it seems fair to conclude that Madonna hasn’t handled the whole affair with much grace. With the flop of her most recent MDNA album failing to halt her steady decline into irrelevance, her catty remarks suggest that perhaps for the first time in her career, she’s worried about her pop status. But one thing seems certain, she won’t back down easily.
Lady Gaga’s fame can be largely attributed to her own aspects. Gaga’s idiosyncratic fashion sense, powerful vocal range, and commitment to beloved fans, she deems “little monsters,” are huge reasons for her success. But with all the talk about Lady Gaga, there are collaborators behind the scenes that help produce Gaga’s music, expose her to new audiences, and maintain her general image. Her parents, who Gaga has continuously referenced as her biggest supporters, are obvious contributing factors, but there are also plenty of non-familial figures that Gaga appreciates.
Before she was Lady Gaga, Stefani Germanotta was hungry for a chance in NYC, like many aspiring artists. One name that she can thank is Wendy Starland, a musician who was also serving as a talent scout for music producer Rob Fusari, who in the past had produced Destiny Child’s 2001 hit “Bootylicious” and Kelly Rowland’s 2003 hit “Train on a Track”. Note the successive word “hit”; even prior to Gaga it was clear Fusari had a knack for producing hits when given the opportunity. Starland caught wind of Gaga, and told Fusari. He got Gaga to travel daily to New Jersey, and was immediately enamored with her voice — comparing Gaga to the legendary likes of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. Rumors claim Fusari was even a factor in choosing Gaga’s name… after none other than a Queen track, “Radio Ga Ga”. Several publications dispute that name origin story, but regardless – it’s clear that Gaga owes quite a bit of her rise to Starland and Fusari, both of whom she has written songs with.
While Starland and Fusari are largely responsible for big label execs giving Gaga a chance, once she was in the spotlight it was a performance artist by the name of Lady Starlight that helped mold Gaga’s on-stage persona. A decade older than Gaga, Lady Starland played with Gaga during early gigs, often spinning ‘70s glam and other obscure vintage records in between Gaga’s pop songs. Starland’s wacky, colorful attire and penchant for playful on-stage antics – like DIY pyrotechnics and odd forms of dance – helped shape Gaga’s eccentric on-stage personality, at least according to Starlight. “It was really more of my attitude towards art that was influential to her, rather than any specific look or style,” Starlight told AOL’s PopEater. “Do it as big as you can, as loud as you can. Whatever it is. The more shocking the better.” Her burlesque act and wide palate of music influences most probably influenced Gaga, even if she is notoriously shy about divulging influences. Gaga’s fame hasn’t made Starland sour, though. “What Lady Gaga was doing was not pop. It really was performance art. We weren’t referencing a certain look or time period. That’s what’s so cool about Gaga. She’s never lost that attitude from those days in the scene.”
While these figures were very pivotal to Gaga’s rise, her actual music is aided by several other collaborators. Although Gaga is always a creative force in contributing to the songwriting on her albums, she is dependent on a team of outstanding producers to create the polish and effectiveness of her synth-pop and club-ready sound. In addition to Fusari, arguably her most important collaborating producer is RedOne, who produced and co-wrote monster hits like “Just Dance”, “Poker Face”, and “LoveGame” on her 2008 debut The Fame. Next year’s The Fame Monster had a similar reliance on RedOne, who produced that album’s hits – “Bad Romance”, “Alejandro”, and “Monster”. Gaga is hardly reluctant to call on RedOne for her radio hits, with other collaborators taking on more expansive efforts. Still, it is clear that RedOne is an unavoidable influence on Gaga’s most famous efforts. While largely talented in her own individualistic right, it would be foolish to dismiss names like RedOne, Lady Starlight, and Rob Fusari. They all share in her rise to being one of the biggest artists in the world.
Twitter has become a bit of a currency for celebrities these days. They seems to pin their self worth based on how many followers they can scrounge up on the social media network. Not only are musicians no different, they seem to be leading the charge. Of the top ten accounts with the most Twitter followers, seven of them are musicians. Obama, Instagram and YouTube are the only non-note spinners.
While the popularity of musical heavyweights like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Kary Perry is without question, we do have to take a hard look at those lofty numbers and wonder if they are exactly legit. We did some digging into the musicians who fill out Twitter’s top 20 and found some with as few as 16% real followers as well as some whose fake followers hit 55%. We also ran the numbers to determine who the real Twitter leaders were in music by analyzing valid Twitter accounts. It shakes up more than you’d think. We also include some interesting factoids on the fake Twitter trade.
Notice: the Twitter data was gathered in May 2013
Lady Gaga has been forced to postpone four shows during the remainder of this week due to severe joint pain caused by an undisclosed injury.
The show’s affected are tonight and tomorrow night’s (February 13-14) shows at the United Center in Chicago, Saturday’s show at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, and Sunday’s concert at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario.
“I am completely devastated and heartsick,” Lady Gaga wrote in a press release announcing the postponements. “I’ve been hiding this injury and pain from my staff for a month, praying it would heal, but after last night’s performance I could not walk. To the fans in Chicago, Detroit and Hamilton, I hope you can forgive me as it is nearly impossible for me to forgive myself right now. I would do anything for you. I will hopefully heal soon as possible and be at 500% again, which is what you deserve.
She also took to Twitter to apologize to her 34 million followers.
“It will hopefully heal as soon as possible, I hate this,” she tweeted. “I hate this so much. I love you and Im sorry.”
The canceled dates are part of Gaga’s “Born This Way Ball” world tour, and after the Hamilton date, her next scheduled concert is a two night stand at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center February 19-20, which will be followed by another two-night gig at Madison Square Garden in New York February 22-23.
The tour precedes the artist’s next album, ARTPOP, which is scheduled to be released later this year. Though an official release date has not yet been announced, Billboard reports that multiple sources say the album likely won’t be out until “as late as September.”
Additionally, a documentary about the recording of that album by Terry Richardson also will be released this year, and it would be assumed that it will come around the same time as the album.
When the Rolling Stones previously announced a handful of 50th anniversary shows for late this year, we all got excited. When they started bringing special guests like Mary J. Blige, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck onstage at concerts, the stakes got higher. But an upcoming concert by the band in New Jersey may be the biggest yet as the 50-year-old band welcomes Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys and Lady Gaga as their special guests.
Additionally, the concert will be shown as a live pay-per-view event, which will be available through cable and satellite providers as well as online at Yahoo WWE.
The concert will be held December 15 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and will be the final date on the five date mini-tour the Stones have dubbed “50 and Counting.”
“We’re excited these extraordinary artists, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga and The Black Keys, have agreed to help celebrate our 50th Anniversary as we share the night live with our fans all over the world,” the Stones said in a statement. “Now the fun begins of trying to figure out the best songs to perform together.”
Blige appeared with the band at their appearance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. and sang on “Gimme Shelter.” Gary Clark, Jr. also was at that show to play a solo on “I’m Goin’ Down.” Former Stones bassist Bill Wyman and Guitarist Mick Taylor appeared with the band at the London shows at the O2 Arena, and are expected to join the band at the Newark show, as well.
In other Stones news, the band has been added to the 12-12-12 benefit concert that will raise money for the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Springsteen is also in the lineup of that show, and other performers include Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and Alicia Keys.
Lady Gaga is finally bringing her “Born This Way Ball” to North America.
The artist has already been making her way around the world in support of the 2011 album Born This Way, and she announced the new dates on her Twitter account earlier today.
“Surprise!! #EarlyGa THE 1ST INSTALLMENT OF THE US/CANADA TOUR DATES ARE HERE FOR THE WORLDWIDE SOLDOUT BORN THIS WAY BALL,” the singer tweeted.
The first North American date will be at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver on January 11, and the trek will continue across the continent through March 16, when she performs at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. In between, she will visit 25 cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Paul, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Nashville and Atlanta.
More cities are expected to be announced at a later date, as are the opening acts for the tour. Thus far on the tour, Lady Gaga has had a number of support acts at various stops.
Lady Gaga currently is touring Europe, and will perform a handful of dates in South America before the end of this year. Though no official date has yet been announced, the artist is planning on releasing a new album titled ARTPOP sometime in 2013. She recently tweeted that she felt like she is channeling a “stoned Disney princess” on the upcoming album, and spoke about it to MTV.
“Let’s just say I feel, I feel that when I wrote Born This Way, I demonstrated a sense of maturity,” she told the network. “And I feel that on the next album, there’s a lack of maturity – it’s a tremendous lack of maturity or sense of responsibility.”
Numerous rumors surfaced suggesting who will appear on the new album. Among the names mentioned have been EDM star Zedd, Azealia Banks, DJ White Shadow and Doug Aldrich, guitarist for Whitesnake.
In February, Lady Gaga announced a handful of dates for her upcoming world tour, dubbed the Born This Way Ball. At the time, it was announced that the trek would eventually involve around 110 shows around the world, and news has finally come of some European dates for the jaunt.
The European leg of the tour will begin in Eastern Europe when the pop stars plays a show in Sofia, Bulgaria on August 14. She will then hit most parts of Europe before winding up in Barcelona on October 6. In between, she will make stops in Romania, Austria, Latvia, Finland, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Italy, among others.
Though a North American leg of the tour is planned, there have been no dates announced as of yet.
The tour itself will kick off on April 27 with a show at Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea. That show recently made headlines across the world when the South Korean government’s Media Rating Board declared that no one under 18 years old would be admitted to the show. Around 300 tickets had to be refunded to buyers under the age of 12. Lady Gaga spoke of the incident herself on her Twitter account.
“Thanku to all the adults in Korea who are speaking out for underaged who want to come to the BTW Ball. Maybe the gov. will change their mind,” she tweeted.”
Local Seoul media that a big part of the decision was influenced because the set list includes the song “Just Dance,” which was earned an over-18 rating from the censoring agency Ministry of Gender Equality and Family’s Commission on Youth Protection.
After the Seoul date, Gaga will spend more time in Asia as she travels to Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. After that, she will perform a series of shows in Australia and New Zealand before heading to Europe.
Pop icons Usher, U2 and Lady Gaga have been asked to help celebrate the William J. Clinton Foundation’s 10th anniversary. Over the years the organization has made large contributions to different charities.
On Saturday October 15 the three performers will be sharing the stage at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to commemorate the William J. Clinton Foundation’s 10th birthday. The organization has raised more than $10 billion to help with causes like feeding the hungry and global AIDS/HIV treatment. The concert is scheduled to be broadcast via Yahoo exclusively on a worldwide basis. The event will also double as the belated birthday celebration for Clinton. On August 19 he turned 65 years old.
“A Decade of Difference: A Concert Celebrating Ten Years of the William J. Clinton Foundation” is also going to include an acoustic performance by The Edge, the U2 guitarist, along with other celebrity guests and additional performers to be announced later.
Control Room is producing the concert. The organization has been the mastermind behind several other large scale events like Live Earth in 2007. An announcement was made by a spokeswoman that the general public will be able to purchase tickets. It is expected that proceeds will be going to charity.