The musical landscape of today possesses a remarkable insurgence of artists more concerned with public notoriety and influence than creativity and honest expression. Showing blatant disregard for their predecessors before them, the musicians of today exude a “style” more foreboding to the psyche of younger, more impressionable fans. In its entirety, this “style” encompasses nothing in relation to music; in fact the music is secondary. The imperative trait one must harbor in the music world today in order to gain notoriety and/or fame is an avant-garde persona with little ties to actual music.
Lady Gaga, the pop-culture phenomenon and musical enigma, has negatively affected the music industry with her enormous popularity amongst mainstream music fans. With an oversaturation of samples within her song catalog, she essentially has diminished her credibility of musical creativity and originality. Additionally, the plethora of Lady Gaga music videos that contain unconventional visions of abstract debauchery attribute to the stigma of her volatile effect on the music industry. The most damaging effect Lady Gaga’s popularity has is her penchant for influencing her fans – whether it be drugs or sexual promiscuity, she emanates a persona that is followed without regard by her followers. All of these situations negatively affect the music industry differently but Lady Gaga is the sole contributor to them all.
To sample a song basically means to take a snippet from an original recording and incorporate it into your music, but the sampling of previous music to sprinkle into your own is nothing new. In fact, in 1956 Buchanan and Goodman had a hit single “The Flying Saucer” that used samples from 18 different chart hits from 1955-56. Said song even had “War of the Worlds” news broadcasts from Orson Welles (www.themadmusicarchive.com). Although sampling is somewhat accepted within the music community it however is frowned upon when the music is dependant on samples opposed to an original composition. Lady Gaga’s music is blanketed with so many samples that each song literally feels like it’s been done before. A current total of 12 songs contain samples with some songs containing more than one. All 12 songs deviate from her unapologetic stance of originality and creativity within the music industry, but with her use of samples, she in fact is casting a disapproving shadow on what creativity really is.
Further more, the music created today needs an innovative kick to differentiate one song from the other. The rampant overuse of samples contributes to the soulless slush of uninspired music spewing from radio speakers. Lady Gaga only advances this unimaginative weakness of sampling and by incredulously pushing these tracks onto her fans she is diminishing the integrity of the music industry as a whole, making it “ok” to use someone else’s musical inspiration as your own.
A secondary negative effect Lady Gaga’s popularity has on the music industry is by way of her music videos. From the mid-80’s to mid-90’s, music videos were rolling billboards for artists – during that time, artist exposure was solely reliant on music videos and word of mouth. With TV channels such as MTV and VH1 completely dedicated to the music video, music artists produced highly articulate vignettes of intrigue with their videos. The band Tool produced a stop-motion animation video for the song “Stinkfist” with its own guitarist, Adam Jones, directing. The video captivated the nation with its subdued H.R. Giger imagery, Adam and Eve references acted out by miniature sand people, and new beginning “skin shedding” messages. The Tool video itself was complex and aristocratic where as any video by Lady Gage is seen as a mild snuff film pedigree. Granted, the MTV and VH1 video generation is long gone because of a reality television apocalypse but the music video as a concept still holds some merit. Unfortunately, Lady Gaga has taken this medium and portrayed it as a wildly unentertaining and sexually diluted miniature movie.
The music industry still relies somewhat on the music video to broadcast an image of an artist/s, but however intelligent or conversely unimaginative the video is, it still should portray the music, not the person. Lady Gaga pillages the depths of raunchiness with images of sadomasochism and uninhabited sexual deviance within her videos. Wildly without story, these videos do nothing but infiltrate the minds of the viewer with what is acceptable as an artist, thus giving approval to those watching that this is what the music stands for, but it stands to reason that the music video need only be about the music not the artist.
The primary negative effect Lady Gaga’s popularity has on the music industry is the atrocious persona she emulates to her fans as well as other upcoming artists. Because Lady Gaga is heralded as a leader and innovator amongst her fans and peers, it would stand to reason that she leads a tight ship and walks the straight and narrow – this is not the case. In a February 2011 interview with ’60 Minutes’, Lady Gaga was quoted as saying, “I smoke a lot of pot when I write music. I’m not gonna sugar coat it for 60 Minutes that I’m some sober human being, ’cause I’m not. I drink a lot of whiskey and I smoke weed when I write.” This by itself is reason enough for the fans of Gaga, A.K.A. “Little Monsters”, to stay as far away as possible if the indulgence in Lady Gaga stretches into an emulating reaction. In addition, Lady Gaga claims to rely on her fan-base for support and inspiration but if her own fan-base is relying on her for the same things then she in turn is corrupting the minds of her pledged devotees.
The music industry is shamed by this indiscretion because it showcases a loss control within the structure of musical prowess. The instant gratification of informational technology allows us to grease the wheels of the musical hype machine and if Lady Gaga portrays an active lifestyle that incorporates drug-use, she is contributing to the demise of the high standards in which we gauge our music. Our fingertips are at the forefront of gathering everything we can about a celebrity or musician. By blatantly advocating narcotics as a musician’s tool in song writing, Lady Gaga has warped the minds of upcoming artists who follow her with fantasies of world tours by way of drugs and alcohol.
Lady Gaga entrenches herself in monstrous ways to reach out into the music industry. With every little step she takes into the task of role model, she walks a thin line between enabler and industry changer. The abilities are there but it seems as if getting by with little to no effort and reaping the benefits substantiate a worth while career. The days of joining your fellow man with folk songs are a thing of the past but bringing together a community of listeners to dine in good causes and beliefs can still be obtained. In August 2010, Lady Gaga told Us Magazine, “My real fans know who I truly am, and they know what I represent and what I mean, and my music and my performance is what really speaks.” Your fans and the music industry know who you are by what you do while in the limelight and if you act accordingly, the music you should be writing, performing, and inspiring, will come to fruition.