The last time I saw Lady Gaga in person, she was wearing a massive blonde wig, a flowery red leotard with a matching keytar around her neck and closing down New York City’s Roseland Ballroom.
The time before that, I saw Gaga artRave performance at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in front of a larger-than-life sculpture of herself custom-made by Jeff Koons. On that same night I reported on how she debuted Volantis, a flying contraption that she hoped would spark the minds of thinkers and maybe propel her to being the first artist to perform in outer space on some one small step leads to pop music on Pluto ish. Gaga’s a woman that’s no stranger to eccentricities.
I’ve always been a fan. Though as she became one the biggest pop stars ever, I wished for her to show people her talent without the frills. Not because I didn’t like or enjoy Lady Gaga, The Spectacle (I have a thing for oddballs, weirdos and theatrics). I do. But more as a middle finger to folks who credit her success to her antics and not her skill. When most people think of Gaga, I’m not sure what comes to mind first. Is it the egg or the meat dress or the smash records? Is she a pretentious Broadway nutbag or a great creative mind with pipes that could blow the roof off your house?
After three LPs worth of kookiness and as many years without a solo album, Gaga returns this fall with Joanne. On this set—its title coming from the singer’s middle name—she’s about to give me what I’ve been wishing for.
In the interview above, she seems to be very aware of just how out there she’s been and how people perceive her. “I’ve always kind of wanted to make things that were kind of absurd and interesting and melding pop culture with technology and fashion and art and music,” she tells Sway Calloway. “So I did beckon for [the perception that I’m from outer space].”
Joanne‘s first single “Perfect Illusion” is a rock love story where Gaga realizes that the object of her affection actually doesn’t love her at all. The romance was all a rouse. On a macro level, the song could be applied to the facades we all often face and how it’s important to recognize that people aren’t always being their true selves. “Not everything is what it seems” is not a new phrase, but we’ve all fallen for the okie-doke. Great song, better message.
But what I’m more-so talking about right now is the visual aspect of this 2016 Gaga. In the “Illusion” video she just dropped, her look is bad-ass basic. In a black tee, cut-off jeans and Doc Marten boots, she looks like she could be in a #MyCalvins ad. It’s a performance video with her (along with Joanna executive producer) playing to and moshing with an audience. There’s no dramatic narrative or costume changes into peculiar get-ups. But the video’s still worth several viewings. Gaga told Sway that this is who she is now.
“I’m 30. I want to wear my jeans and some flat shoes,” she says. “I want to take my makeup off and I want to sing at the top of my lungs on my piano and the guitar.” The outfits never made her. And while Gaga’s on this run, she’ll be proving it.
Sign me up. I’m in.