Lady Gaga: Is her ladyship at risk of becoming a bore?
The world’s most powerful celebrity (says Forbes) appears to be losing her radical edge
In the week that Lady Gaga releases her second album - or album 2.5 if we are to include the Fame Monster EP she released as a musical version of a conservatory to her The Fame album - she has been named the world's most powerful celebrity. Gaga claims the top spot in Forbes magazine's annual Celebrity 100 list, knocking Oprah Winfrey off her perch as the planet's premium superstar.
The most photographed, hyped, followed, liked and gushed over popstar of the decade, her elevation to the pinnacle of popularity is no great surprise. But what will she do with all her influence now that she's made it?
She has only been a star since 2008 and is still 25 years old, but it feels like she has been around forever.
On the outside she has been a controversial figure since her first number one Just Dance, just three short years ago. She became an immediate camp icon, wearing an ever more controversial chandelier dress for each separate hour of the day, and producing a series of videos designed to garner the acronyms of our age - OMFG, WTF?, LOL.
Gaga's juggernaut of tabloid titillation has climaxed with Judas in which religious and sexual imagery collide in time-honoured fashion, upsetting the mums and dads of Middle America. As with her previous single Born This Way (which sounded more than a little like Express Yourself and dealt with a similar sentiment of sexual freedom), comparisons to Madonna are impossible to avoid - the Judas video being reminiscent of Madge's Pope-baiting Like a Prayer promo.
As with Madonna, there are already signs that Gaga is tiring of her provocative reputation. Just as Madonna craved the attention of Andrew Lloyd Webber, starred in movies opposite Tom Hanks and released several ballad albums before coming to her senses, there are signs that Gaga, too, now seeks mainstream acceptance.
Last week she chose her appearance at Radio 1's Big Weekend not to wow us with the best moments of her new album but to showcase her skills as a jazz burlesque performer. This has long been a feature of her live shows where the poptastic single Poker Face that we know and love is preceded by an exhausting jazz version in which Gaga plays her piano suspended upside down and sings in a boogie woogie Cleo Laine style.
The Radio 1 audience had to endure around 25 minutes of this before being treated to Just Dance and Judas. The fact that her set was so late that it delayed an episode of Family Guy on BBC Three was the most controversial thing about it.
On Graham Norton's BBC1 chat show last Friday, she came across as a sensible, nice person - albeit a sensible, nice person trapped inside an outfit that looked like a cross between a Victorian wedding dress and a croquembouche (that ridiculous choux bun tower they built on Masterchef).
Norton told her that his favourite part of her live show was when she just sat down at the piano and she agreed, claiming that when she wasn't touring she enjoyed nothing more than playing intimate acoustic shows to small audiences in New York dives. "That's what I am," she said, "a singer-songwriter."
Sadly for her, that's the very last thing people think she is. Born This Way the album may change people's mind a little.
Although there are some very good pop songs on the album and some extraordinarily tiresome psychobabble, the most striking tracks are two rock ballads that bookend them all - Marry the Night and The Edge of Glory. Both sound curiously dated, like Bonnie Tyler attempting disco in the early 80s, but are excellently crafted - the kind of tracks that have genuine cross-generational appeal.
The Edge of Glory even includes guitar work from Brian May (an icon to Gaga considering she is named after Queen's Radio Ga Ga) - it couldn't be more Radio 2-friendly.
Another indicator that she is not the radical she is assumed to be is revealed by her attitude to photographers. While she has no power over paparazzi shots (for now) she demands control over any concert photos taken of her and makes all live photographers surrender their copyright.
Blocking other people's creativity is an odd stance for someone who places so much emphasis on their own but it should be noted that she is not alone in these demands - The Beastie Boys and The Foo Fighters impose similar contracts.
Perhaps this is what happens when you become the world's most powerful celebrity, but I naively expected better of her.
I fear for album 3.5 in two years time. As things stand, I'm not betting against jazz covers and 20-minute sax solos. ·
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