June 4, 2010

An Exercise of Restraint

As the newest Lady Gaga video for Alejandro approaches release, I figured it was only a matter of time before her rumored 7-minute black-and-white splash will spike up the charts and cannibalize even Telephone. It won't be a conversation-starter because of product placement, as Telephone primarily was, it will probably be a conversation-starter for something even more negative: her increasingly annoying penchant for pretentiousness.

You can't really say that music video length already equates to being pretentious- I mean, Michael Jackson has two music videos (as far as I know) that famously exceed 10 minutes- but when you think about it, there's something in Gaga's videos that pretty much scream for attention.

Is it because Stefani Germanotta, the lady behind the mask, actually knows what she's doing? Could it be her way of taking advantage of the fickle American taste and overstating herself to make a metaphor? Or is it because... she just doesn't know how to exercise a bit of restraint?

If there's one thing OK Go, or even Madonna in some cases, does well, it's restraint. Why do you think Madonna always gets buzz for her concerts moreso than her music videos, and why does it always feel like a huge event when OK Go quietly releases a new video on their YouTube page? You don't always see them on the tube, that's for sure.

One could argue that all this rambling about Lady Gaga is a product of being overplayed, overexposed or just plain ear fatigue, but in fact, it's kind of the opposite. Personally, she remains a bit of an exciting artist, if only because she seems to be the only current influential artist whose music will undoubtedly endure time. In a decade, people will barely remember 7 Things, but they'll be nostalgic for Just Dance. It's all uncannily Madonna, and Germanotta- who to my disappointment, is classically trained (thus making her automatically and technically better than Madonna)- is all the smarter for it.

But by practically releasing several consecutive music videos that exceed the tolerable threshold of 4 minutes, Lady Gaga risks her becoming obscure faster than you could say Ke$ha (who I doubt will endure enough to make a second album), if only because these videos risk her becoming a very tiring figure to gawk at. The aesthetic, the sex, the "quirky" imagery, the pointless storylines, they get tiring, and because of Lady Gaga, everyone else is keeping tabs as if she were the Apple of the music world. Now we have Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and even Christina Aguilera following suit, making the music video industry even more unbearable than Pauly Shore.

Lest trendsetter Gaga comes up with something else and actually keeps things simpler, someone else will have to steal the spotlight away from her some time, if only because every mainstream artist following her example makes things sickening by the minute. When Alejandro goes live, be sure to see people looking in the other direction, hoping for someone else to come down and lift them away.


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