Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lady Gaga! DUDE! Who KNEW?

By Ben Tinsley
Copyright @2015

I would like to briefly discuss the career of the unflappable Lady Gaga — as filtered through the jaundiced, jaded, eyes of a 48-year-old Texas journalist.

Full disclosure: I am the farthest thing from a pop culture expert that you will ever find. So please — bear with me.
I have to admit, the first time I really noticed the famous Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (otherwise known as Lady Gaga) was when she wore a dress made of — meat I believe? — to one of those forgettable award shows. I am uncertain what year this was.
My basic reaction at the time was: “WHUT? A meat dress? A dress. Made of MEAT? Did she cook the dress and eat it after the show?”
This stunt kind of weirded me out. I admit I was a vegetarian for about a year when I was in my mid-20s. But, being from Texas and loving hamburgers and tacos and steak, I came to the ultimate conclusion that we are all carnivores — and that eating meat is in our nature.
Honestly, I know Lady Gaga wore that dress for a good cause — or at the very least to make a good POINT, but I forget the whys and wherefores.
Anyway, the end result as far as I was concerned was that I was startled into paying much more attention to the lovely Lady Gaga.
I find that as I grow older, I don’t scrutinize pop culture as religiously as once I did. But flashback to the early 90s, and you’d find me breathing in and absorbing anything and everything about it.
I could often be found dancing my ass off in the living room to Heavy D’s “Now that we’ve found Love” or checking my abs in the mirror to see if they were as well defined as Marky Mark’s in his “Good Vibrations” video.
But a meat dress? Hm. Okay.
Lady Gaga was now, officially, on my radar. So, I kept an ear out for her music.
Awhile later, I had a really bad day.
The details are unnecessary, but I was really depressed. The future, to me, looked at the time to be really dreary and horrible.
I remember sitting in a room and hearing a succession of Lady Gaga songs. I found myself adoring them. And, because they cheered me out of a great, great funk, I’ve been kind of an armchair Lady Gaga fan ever since. Even after my hip replacement surgery in 2013 rendered me unable to vigorously dance to them anymore.
I saw Lady Gaga on Saturday Night Live at one point and loved her music and her performances.
But the big “WHUT-THE-WHAT?” surprise came when I was watching the 2015 Oscars on TV the other night.
I was astounded to hear L.G. sing tunes from “The Sound of Music.” As a former member of the Texas Boys Choir as a child, I have actually been professionally trained to sing those songs. I’ve read the sheet music. I pretty much know when they’re being sung correctly or not.
How could she conceal such a magnificent voice all these years? Why do her pop songs offer no indication of the true depth of her talent?
Everyone in my quite conservative Texas household — at least within hearing range — became an instant Lady Gaga fan that night.
Why have we heard no indication of this voice before? Was she just having fun with pop music until she decided to get serious?
Was being “Lady Gaga” — with her publicity stunts and meat dresses and whatnot — the only way she could ascend the Pop Culture ladder?
Let’s briefly assume the aforementioned approach is correct. If so, was it the only avenue available to her to get this once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing the songs Julie Andrews engrained in America’s hearts and minds half a century ago?
And to have to have the validation of Julie Andrews herself immediately after singing those songs? Amazing.
So … some questions are rattling around maniacally in my brain right now:
  1. Now that she’s all classy and stuff, will Lady Gaga, start going by her real name?? Or, perhaps, will she change her stage name to something else — like “Lady Opera” — to reflect this new development in her professional life?
  2. Did Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta become “Lady Gaga” in the first place so that she could have the chance to one day morph into a female Pavarotti? Kind of like when fledgling rock bands start in the Christian rock music scene because its easier to break in? (Do they DO that anymore?)
  3. Will we now see Lady Gaga pull a “Sting” and start performing with classy musicians such as Pavarotti on a regular basis? (With that voice, I bet she could deliver a great Opera!)
  4. Bottom line: Where does Lady Gaga go from here?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Perhaps one day I’ll realize my secret dream of having coffee and Monster drinks with Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta at a Dallas Starbucks and dishing with her about all her show business secrets.
I mean … DANG. What an amazing performance at the 2015 Oscars. What a great surprise!
When he’s not writing columns about completely unrelated matters, veteran journalist Ben Tinsley works as the staff reporter for the Texas Jewish Post. He can be contacted by email at bent@texasjewishpost.com or by cell phone at (702) 524–3773. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/BenTinsley, Google athttp://plus.google.com/+BenTinsley or on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.