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Jul. 12 2010 - 5:36 pm | 1,198 views | 0 recommendations | 9 comments

Lady Gaga will never be as talented as Janelle Monae

Lady Gaga live

Image via Wikipedia

Janelle Monae is better than Lady Gaga? Blasphemy!

Universities are now preaching the greatness of Gaga, and most of America has never heard of Ms. Monae. Your claim is ludicrous, Fruzsi.

Ah – but read me out. If you were to compare both ladies on their craft, you will see that Janelle Monae is actually the more talented artist.

Dancing:

Lady Gaga cannot do the moon walk. Lady Gaga does poses really quickly, and maybe does a little hip wiggle in her videos. Meanwhile, Janelle Monae does feats of slight footwork- including moonwalking. Monae doesn’t have dancers and fancy choreography masking her inability to dance. Jezebel recently wrote a piece titled “Why Has Dancing Become So Boring in Pop Videos” and surprise, Janelle Monae was the single exception.

Singing:

Ms. Monae clearly has the superior voice. Lady Gaga sounds the same in every song, while Ms. Monae can change the tone of her voice and still sound wonderful. Case in point, the “Many Moons” short film embedded below showcases Ms. Monae’s various voice talents. Lady Gaga saying “Roma” does not count.

Songwriting/ Storytelling:

Do I really need to mention again how Lady Gaga’s music videos have nothing to do with her music? We can all agree Lady Gaga’s lyrics are vapid, perhaps intentionally. Though her rhymes may be cute (“bluffin’ with my muffin”), her content is crass and unoriginal.  You could say this is because Lady Gaga is a postmodernist, and it is up to the viewer/ listener to determine and create meaning in her work. I call Lady  Gaga’s post modernist craft lazy, because it is very easy to throw shit together in a music video and count on misinformation to create a story .  Sure, Lady Gaga’s interviews do come off as postmodern, with her “challenging gender roles”, but Janelle Monae challenges gender roles too and doesn’t indulge in vague, sex-drenched or shocking spectacle.

Janelle Monae builds whole worlds for her albums based off her android dreams. Janelle Monae sings about the future, class differences and forms of prejudice. What does Gaga do with her position of power, beside sing about sex and telephone reception?

Originality:

This category is tricky, because every artist these days borrows from someone else. So, being as I am somewhat of a “feminist” (hide your eyes, insecure men!), this category is going to focus on rise to fame and sex appeal. Lady Gaga is naked in every music video, and has some controversy only the religious right care about in every video. She is relatively pretty, blonde and white. Lady Gaga teaching kids it’s okay to be different? Hardly. Nancy Bauer recently wrote in an opinion piece titled “Lady Power” (choice bits below, the whole piece is worth reading):

Gaga wants us to understand her self-presentation as a kind of deconstruction of femininity, not to mention celebrity.

And since Gaga herself literally embodies the norms that she claims to be putting pressure on (she’s pretty, she’s thin, she’s well-proportioned), the message, even when it comes through, is not exactly stable.  It’s easy to construe Gaga as suggesting that frank self-objectification is a form of real power.

Lady Gaga idealizes this way of being in the world.  But real young women, who, as has been well documented, are pressured to make themselves into boy toys at younger and younger ages, feel torn.

Leave it to Simone de Beauvoir to take her lifelong partner Sartre to task on this very point… When it comes to her incredibly detailed descriptions of women’s lives, Beauvoir repeatedly stresses that our chances for happiness often turn on our capacity for canny self-objectification.  Women are — still — heavily rewarded for pleasing men.  When we make ourselves into what men want, we are more likely to get what we want, or at least thought we wanted.

Lady Gaga is more popular because her brand of sex is familiar. When I look at Lady Gaga, I know how I am supposed to look and behave to be a “boy toy” or a heavily jeweled “ornament“.  When comparing Lady Gaga to Janelle Monae,  Lady Gaga is just turning the same old tricks with a whole lot more sparkle (and the occasional cheesy fire effects).  Janelle Monae on the other hand, wears a suit, gives off a female Elvis Presley vibe and has a penis -type hairdo. Janelle Monae doesn’t give a shit about traditional sex appeal or sacrificing her artistic vision to “please men”.   Says Janelle Monae in an LA Times interview:

“It’s time to redefine what sexy can be, and what a woman can wear, how she wears her hair, what shoes she chooses,” said Monáe, whose signature pompadour has inspired some to compare her to Grace Jones. “I’m about uniting and helping people become comfortable with who they are. Because there are young girls out there right now going through identity crises.”

via Ann Power’s Janelle Monae in Wondaland

And that way of thinking is super sexy. (Full disclosure: I have a raging girl crush on Janelle Monae) As for why the public hasn’t caught on to Janelle Monae? I can only guess the American public (including music execs)  lack the intelligence to appreciate Ms Monae’s work.

To conclude:

Janelle Monae is a level 18 bard, while Lady Gaga just recently obtained level 7 ( “Hypnotize” and “Fascinate the undead” are her main skills). If I was drawing together my party to save the world (because bards are important, don’t believe what any one says), I would pick Janelle Monae over Lady Gaga any day.


Comments

4 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 9 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    I forgot to add “Acting”. Any good bard is also a great actor.

    Of the two, Janelle Monae is again superior. (Lady Gaga fans, rewatch “Telephone”.)

  2. collapse expand

    Ms. Eordogh,

    Talent? Originality?? Singing?! Dancing!?! Since when do those things have anything to do with success in the entertainment industry? Lady Gaga has the right stuff.

  3. collapse expand

    Thanks for bringing Janelle Monae to my attention. She really is talented in all the ways you say she is. But every generation has needed its female-on-female impersonator–Bette Midler, Madonna, now Gaga. We can’t take our eyes off of her–that’s part of the message. She is the Andy Warhol of gender. Having your bad dancing covered with good choregraphy is fair play. Though I have to say that dancing in your underwear is, to use a dated word, cheap.

  4. collapse expand

    When I see Gaga perform, I always find her to be so stiff and obvious. It’s as if she’s parodying the kind of pop star that she is. I know, that’s the idea. However, she does it so badly and uninterestingly. I am always thinking, why doesn’t she do x or y. Why doesn’t she start really dancing/moving?

    Her singing and lyrics? the same. If she’s such a big deal, why no vocal gymnastics or at least interesting themes and lyrics?

    Maybe I should have put a lampshade on my head when I was younger….sigh.

  5. collapse expand

    Oh, and that’s some pretty amazing dancing by Monae…obviously, in the MJ vein, but her own.

  6. collapse expand

    Most listeners of music today are to familiar with the dumb downed acts that the music industry pushes out to the masses. To hear someone so refreshed, unique, original and talented such as Janelle Monae baffles most. When Lady Gaga first was introduced to the public alot of people didn’t get her. Instead the roles have been reversed in a way. Janelle Monae might be quirky in a way but people can’t wrap their heads around her overall persona. I have no doubt in my mind that Janelle Monae surpasses the fake so-called artists like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna, etc. Those artists just like the many others are manufactured by labels while Janelle Monae stands beyond the normal. Janelle Monae is the epitome of this generation. While others will go for the easy road of fortune and fame, Janelle Monae will carve out a legacy for herself in this generation.

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    About Me

    When I am not gracing the front page of google news, I'm writing on one of my other blogs or doing research.

    I was born in Budapest, and escaped the evils of communism at a young age. When I was four, I jumped a fence, fought a guard, disarmed fifteen land mines, and swam across the Atlantic to New York City. Basically.

    I grew up on Roosevelt Island, where I buried a pet in a traffic circle, played street hockey, and never learned how to drive. I now reside in Albany Park, on the Northwest side of Chicago. I'm a former editor, avid animal lover, gamer, pauper, princess, and poet.

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