Let’s Get Quizzical: Is Lady Gaga Ironic?

While I was secretly hoping for a legion of outraged Gaga fans to react angrily to my last post (I could have called it ‘Gagagate’!), in reality the increase in page views was already more than I could’ve hoped for. However, I did receive one comment that suggested that I was missing the irony of Lady Gaga and her music, and as such, I thought I’d explore that topic further.

I stated in my previous post that I couldn’t find a shred of irony anywhere on Lady Gaga’s debut album, The Fame. Upon reflection, that’s not quite true – ‘Paparazzi’ is somewhat ironic in that it apes the standard R’n’B love ballad, but is in fact about a stalkerish obsession with famous people and the fame that surrounds them. But elsewhere? I’m struggling to see it. I struggle to construe any of ‘Just Dance’s lyrics as ironic, and the fact that artists such as Maxïmo Park have covered the song with complete sincerity further supports that view in my eyes. And Lady Gaga has openly admitted that ‘Poker Face’ is about “bluffing with your sexuality”, surely indicating once again that it should be taken at face value.

So, while irony appears to be in short supply in the music itself, is there anything in Lady Gaga’s character that suggests that everything isn’t what it seems? There’s one moment in this interview with Jonathan Ross where she responds to rumours of transsexuality by deadpanning “well, I do have a really big donkey dick,” which may not necessarily be ironic, but at the very least indicates that she doesn’t take herself entirely seriously. However, while she comes across as more likeable than in the interview I posted in my previous post, she still appears utterly self-involved, wrapped up in her own little world without realising how unintentionally hilarious it can be for other people. And there doesn’t appear to be the need for further evidence – even though she (presumably) jokes about naked men fanning her and feeding her cherries, her answer to the final question in this interview seems to dismiss the possibility of irony entirely:

“I have a lot of complexities, and people constantly wonder if I’m putting up an act or something. But how I am on stage is exactly who I am, how I am living my life is exactly the way I had envisioned it to be. If people want to know me better, they have to get that.”

Now, it’s entirely possible that the above is a bare-faced lie, and Lady Gaga’s interview persona is as elaborately constructed as her costumes. But it just doesn’t seem plausible, particularly if you consider that if she was laughing behind everyone’s back, she’d probably prefer to be laughing all the way to the bank – and yet she’s apparently managed to bankrupt herself four times. How can someone who ploughs all the money she makes back into her stage show be doing it ironically?

But, I think the crucial thing about the concept of Lady Gaga being ironic is that if she isn’t perceived as such, then it’s all for naught – after all, in the eye of the beholder, perception is reality (what do you know, marketing did teach me something…). I highly doubt that Lady Gaga’s detractors are taking her music to be as ironic, and I surely can’t imagine that her fans are either. People aren’t praising Lady Gaga because her songs are some sort of wonderfully cutting tryst on fame and fortune. People aren’t buying her records because they’re ‘ironic’. The critical praise and the gargantuan sales come from the fact they’re infectiously catchy pop tunes – and, even if you dislike her as much as I do, that’s something you can’t really deny.

So, if you’d like to point out some irony in Lady Gaga’s music that I’ve evidently missed, then feel free – I’m all ears. But all the evidence I’ve found points to the exact opposite – she believes in what she’s doing with a commitment and sincerity that even I find begrudgingly admirable.

…doesn’t make her album any less irritating though.

(And with that, I’m hopefully done with Gaga. Next post will be about someone different, I promise.)



Filed under Music

2 responses to “Let’s Get Quizzical: Is Lady Gaga Ironic?

  1. I don’t find Gaga ironic…I think she’s genuinely having fun with people’s perceptions. Isn’t the whole point of her to be a talking point? Crazy outfits and make-up, lyrics about being drunk on a night out and questioning sexuality. She is a crazier version of Katy Perry in my view. My gay friend loves her for being her; whilst I would never buy her records I do think her songs are quite fun.

  2. Asif

    you’re missing the point. maybe.

    shes just a pop star, you’re an intelligent person discussing somebody elses marketing plan in an intelligent manner….

    if her music doesnt speak to you or touch you in any way whatsoever, why debate it?

    though saying that, you’re incensed enough to write about it….

    i’d say the jobs been done by the marketing dept!

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