I used to think that Lady Gaga was of the devil. I know. I know what you’re already thinking. She rose to prominence during my formative middle school years. Years in which I was just beginning to scratch the surface of more mainstream music. But there were still areas into which I did not venture, music tastes that required a greater level of maturity than I possessed at the tender age of thirteen.
I first came into contact with Gaga as a performer with the infamous meat dress. I was disgusted. (I still am, but for a very different reason, that’s a tragic waste of meat). I read reports of Gaga explaining that many of her song ideas came from dreams and weird demonic ideas. I was convinced. This woman was evil. I passed judgment on her the same way I did on any other artist that I thought was provocative. Looking back I now I can see her for what she was, which was a gifted performance artist, whos appeal was not only in her voice but in her style, panache, and absurdism. But at this time I had not yet come into my own as an artist so I failed to understand the motivation of other creatives.
Eventually, I came around to at least some of Gaga’s music, although I still refrained from viewing any of her videos. She began to grow on me as her own person as well. Especially when I saw her heartbreaking performance at the Oscars. At that moment she was no longer costumes and wigs. She was a human and a fellow artist who deserved as much love and support as anyone else. Her collaboration with Tony Bennet on the jazz album, Cheek to Cheek, demonstrated her range as an artist.
From that moment everything changed. Especially when she released her album, Joanne. I listened to all the music on repeat. I was the first to cheer and get excited about her acting and singing in A Star is Born. She went from being someone I looked at in distaste to being one of the artists I admired the most.
So, was this a natural evolution? Lady Gaga moving from pop music to soft rock with country influences? Or, was this a carefully planned calculation? Did Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta always plan to one day create music with a stripped-down approach that highlighted her beautiful voice? Or did she evolve and with that evolve music with her? I originally thought that it was a calculation, one that I openly applauded her for. But now I am much more inclined to think that it was a mix of both. The reason Gaga became famous was not only because she dressed in meat and wigs, but because she was also a powerhouse performer. The passion that she delivers in her music is the same from pop to Joanne. Joanne perhaps gives the best platform for her voice, but it is nearly impossible to argue that she was simply phoning it in until her time came to make Joanne. She is and always was a gifted and dedicated performance artist, and as a hater-turned-fan, I can’t wait to see where she goes next.