Music News

A half-dozen reasons why I'm gaga for Gaga

Eclectic taste I may claim to have, but my favorite tunes usually fall into a category I like to call "cry rock" -- if it's likely to make me stare wistfully and pensively out of a coffee shop window while I hack away in my metaphorical Livejournal, I probably love it.

So I was as surprised as anyone when I recently found myself defending Lady Gaga to a room full of people with a zeal I normally reserve for wronged family members, my right to eat meat and a certain brand of underwear (Hanky Panky, if you must know).

I stomped my foot unashamedly in support of her that night, pitch of my voice rising with every listed point of why she is the best pop star on the planet, and I will happily do it again. Here is why she is awesome:

01. The girl's actually got pipes. And keyboardist fingers. My true love affair with Lady Gaga began when I heard a live, acoustic version of "Paparazzi" and realized that unlike her contemporaries, she's more than a well-mixed radio edit--she's talented.

02. She blazed her own path. Okay, so I'm sure Gaga got some help along the way from the Tisch School and some lucky acquaintance-ships, but it doesn't negate her hard work. She wrote her own songs, started performing at open-mikes, and worked her way on up. And now she has an empire. A much cooler empire than a pretty girl who used her looks and showbiz roots to "sing" candy tracks written by someone else.

03. She's dark. I want your love, and I want your revenge/You and me could write a bad romance? Lashes are dry/Purple teardrops I'll cry? And all those flames that burned before him/Now he's gonna firefight? Hi, take away those sequins and synthesizers, add a flannel shirt and an acoustic guitar, and I'm back in the coffee shop thinking about the meaning of life.

04. She pulls off red lipstick. And I am jealous. Other things that she pulls off that make me jealous: Mickey Mouse hair, blood, weird-ass sunglasses, and whatever the hell this lace ensemble is.

05. I can't rip my eyes away from her videos. The first time I noticed this phenomenon, I was holding a flirty conversation with a fairly attractive young man in some terrible LoDo bar or club. Suddenly, the weird orchestral intro to "Bad Romance" was inciting the vodka-tonic holding crowd into sweaty body contortions on the dance floor.

As for me, I went slack-jawed and wide-eyed, staring at the video playing on a flat-screen TV above the crowd. By the time I came to, my would-be suitor was gone, understandably annoyed with my sudden inability to converse, and I was pulling up the rest of her videos on my iPhone, doomed to an anti-social evening in the black hole of YouTube. The love affair grows with each new release, including "Alejandro," which is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen.

06. She does pop because she wants to do pop differently. The rest of this list aside, the x factor for me, the reason I will annoyingly and loudly defend Gaga until I'm hoarse, is that she's saying "Fuck you" to pop music while making pop music. On her own website, Gaga calls pop music the sugar -- and herself the medicine. And it's for that attitude that I love her- she's going unabashedly after the lowest common denominator and using it to raise the bar.

You better believe I'll be at the Pepsi Center tonight, sweaty hand clasped tightly around an overpriced ticket, eyes lined with black, screaming like a thirteen-year-old girl. Gaga ooh la la.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk