Friday, February 4, 2011

Lady Who?

A friend of mine had an epiphany the other day: Cinder Bridge should cover "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga. We've successfully put our special Cinder Bridge spin on other songs outside our genre, so "Poker Face" would be right up our alley.

The idea seemed good in principle, but it was hard for me to judge. I had never heard Lady Gaga.

Oh, I'd heard OF her. I haven't been trapped in a bomb shelter for the past two years. I knew she was really really famous. I just couldn't identify any of her songs in a lineup. And from what I'd heard, I didn't think I was missing out.

* * *

Coming up in the '80s, one of the great disappointments of my life was discovering that the music of my generation sucked. Boomers got the Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, the Stones, David Bowie. What did I get? The Gogos. Hall and Oates. Madonna.

So it's not like my dismissal of the trendy stuff is something that developed as I aged out of adolescence and early adulthood. I've always been at odds with it. The difference is in how distant it feels now. I mean, I may not have cared for early-'80s Madonna, but I knew Madonna. ("Holiday-eeee ... It would beeee sooooo nice") She was everywhere. I couldn't have gotten away from her if I tried, and I'm pretty sure I did try.

"Poker Face" was number one on the charts for months. I listen to the radio. How could I possibly have missed it?

* * *

At precisely 4 p.m. today, I queued up the "Poker Face" video on YouTube and lost my Gaga virginity.

I didn't like her. I didn't hate her. And about five minutes after listening, I couldn't have told you how the song went.

Am I as out of touch as I fear? Or are today's biggest hits just that forgettable?


The_Monarch said...

I only said that it came to me in a vision. I never said that it was a "good" vision, just a vision.

Of course, I am the one who said Jonathan Coulton's "Skullcrusher Mountain" is the single greatest love song of all time (because it so closely reflects the way I fall way too deeply in love to ever let go), so...

Maybe it'd be better for all if I simply go back to producing other artists' greatest hits.

Bob Ezrin

John Wenger said...

I'm crazy about Lady Gaga. Her public persona is completely silly, but her songs are first rate. I like Poker Face, but it isn't the best of her songs by a long shot.

Get with it.

DeppityBob said...

Lady Gaga makes danceable songs. She's very skilled at that. She's brilliant at crafting a public persona and is, by all accounts, a fierce worker who is tireless at creating her music. That said, her music has all the substance of cotton candy. It's catchy and well-crafted, but if you remove the melodies and lyrics from the production, you've got nothing.

I don't know that the 80s were all that bad. Remember, we also got the Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, R.E.M., and some others. No, it wasn't the "Voice of a Generation" the way the 60s and 70s were, and the singer/songwriter was left behind in the 80s, but there was good, inventive stuff that got played on college radio. Just remember that your favorite musical era also gave us The Archies, Terry Jacks, Rod McKuen, The DeFranco Family, the Partridge Family, "Winchester Cathedral," Edison Lighthouse, and William Shatner "interpreting" "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." I'm not going to in any way compare the music revolution that included Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Who, and Jefferson Airplane to the decade that gave us Bananarama, but it had its own pop hell.

Your dad is pulling your chain. I doubt he could name another Lady Gaga song without a web search. Given that his favorite performer is Leon Russell, I can't imagine him listening to "Poker Face" without wanting to plunge icepicks in his ears.

(Word verification is "ableurl." Interesting.)

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you which song "Poker Face" is - I have watched some of her videos and felt underwhelmed. (Sorry, Mr. Wenger!) And someone who wears a meat dress is aching for more attention than, at 44, I'm prepared to part with. My attention is usually reserved for far more important things. I've felt the same about vehicles, too - when you and I were pals in college, I knew every make and model of car (well, I HOPE I knew a few more thngs, too). Now, I see cars driving down the road and think, "huh - when did Hundai come out with THAT model?" So it's not just you - I think our "adult" minds prioritize differently.

Beth Dolezal

cinderkeys said...

The_Monarch: I don't think it was a bad vision. I'm just having a hard time making any connection to the song. ("Skullcrusher Mountain" is awesome, though.)

Dad: What about "Poker Face" do you like? What about it hooks you?

Dep: I have no problem with cotton candy pop, actually. Good melodies and good lyrics are important. My problem with "Poker Face" is that it didn't even deliver good candy.

But I agree with everything you said about the '80s. The stuff that was worth looking into, I didn't know about or didn't get. My fault for not trying harder. As I recall, you were the one who got me to give the Talking Heads a second chance.

Beth: You probably enjoyed knowing the make and model of every car. Knowing about top 40 hits wasn't something I did on purpose. The songs were just more in my face then, and I have no idea why.

Jannie Funster said...

I honestly cannot say I know the tune. I saw her in a short clip on piano, not sure what the song wasy -- she has a nice voice and presence.

And hey, I am making and posting YOUR sidebar button after I post this.


cinderkeys said...

Thanks for the sidebar button! Very pretty, and appreciated. :)

John Wenger said...

To Deppity Bob: Just because I can't name her other songs doesn't mean I don't like them. And I'm not crazy about Poker Face, but it has something catchy in it I find pleasant; I don't know why.

But I must take exception to this statement: "It's catchy and well-crafted, but if you remove the melodies and lyrics from the production, you've got nothing." Are you kidding? If you remove the melody and lyrics from a song, you have nothing.

To Everyone Else: I don't know why I like Poker Face, but I do. And I really like the her song which ends with Gaga, rump, rump AH (or something like that) although it makes no sense at all. As far as her outrageous persona, I think she is funny. Anyone taking her seriously needs medical help, of course.

DeppityBob said...

John: The song you refer to is "Bad Romance," which currently has the most views on YouTube. I can only think it's part well-crafted pop song and part unnerving spectacle. I can only think that your knowledge of Lady Gaga comes from late, desperate, gin-soaked nights searching the radio dials for your lost mojo but bitterly rejecting any song that doesn't measure up to Blondie's "One Way or Another."

DeppityBob said...

By the way, when I said that about removing the music and lyrics from the production, I meant that the song has nothing going for it but its overproduction. It's full of sound and fury, signifying Gaga.

Anonymous said...

That's another problem, but I think that's news to absolutely no one -- overproduction. Both in how the record labels put the cart before the horse in deciding what a new "act" should look, behave, and sound like before the act is even formed in most cases, and then in what comes out of the recording studio.

For better or for worse, in past generations most singers actually sang. Some still were given tweaking, but it was definitely the exception. Nowadays, if you removed Auto Tune, you'd remove 80% (or more) of the current "performers" at once. So yeah, they have to be complete flakes in public -- they don't have any talent to differentiate themselves from the horde of other plastic pre-fab crap that the big recording labels foist on the public, so they have to do something to "stand out." Sadly, that kind of crap is what makes a superstar these days, not actual talent. But that's not the music industry's fault. Fame for nothing is today's America. You can see it in television and politics, too.