Lady Gaga makes me jealous.
This is the first time I — a 26-year-old male newspaper reporter from the Central New Jersey suburbs — am admitting this. And this is the first time I — a pop-culture enthusiast and blogger — am actually writing about my feelings toward Ms. Gaga, even though she’s spent more than a year dominating pop with her constant stream of off-kilter craziness.
But I feel compelled to say it: Lady Gaga makes me jealous.
I realized this tonight — when for the last 45 minutes, her most recent single, ‘Alejandro,’ kept jogging through my head. Many, many songs have taken up residence in my brain, of course. But this is the second straight Gaga single to do so.
The first was ‘Bad Romance’ — a song I obsessed over. See: I’ve written my share of songs. I’ve labored over chord progressions that beg for attention. I’ve agonized over how to make a melody catchy without sounding forced. But ‘Bad Romance’ makes it sound so simple.
The nonsensical intro? It’s sinisterly infectious. The pre-chorus? It has killer attitude. The chorus? Friggin’ sublime. It’s the epitome of the perfect pop song. It seems seamless. And it makes me jealous.
Of course, I’ve loved lots of uber-popular pop. I loved the hooky joy of the Spice Girls. I even bought Hanson albums. But Gaga’s songs are remarkably well-structured. Look at the recent Gaga episode of ‘Glee.’ Strip these tunes down, and they still stand up.
I know. Gaga is ridiculous. She’s over-the-top. She over-uses synthesizers. She wears bras and flashes NC-17 gestures at Mets games. And who knows how much her managers and producers have packaged her?
But I keep thinking about Madonna. Gaga gets the Madonna comparison a lot — both being provocative pop artists. And Madonna is an artist I didn’t understand for years. She simply seemed like she was TRYING to shock and wow us. Whereas someone like David Bowie, his personas — Ziggy, the Thin White Duke — were unforced theater, a little bit of drama to make wonderful music sizzle even more. Madonna? She didn’t seem to have the same kind of gravitas.
My thoughts, though, changed over time. I fell in love with how glistening and ever-fresh songs like ‘Borderline’ and ‘Take A Bow’ are. They jump — and they’re well-written.
Pop is a visual art, but more importantly, it’s aural. In that way, Gaga and Madonna share a bond. I don’t care if they wear underwear as blouses. I care that their pop makes me jealous.