I read a number of message boards devoted to music and I follow the â€śBillboardâ€ť charts pretty closely. I like to think I have my ear to the ground and am pretty good at spotting trends before they bloom. If itâ€™s true, I have a feeling the presently scattershot sniping about Lady Gagaâ€™s recent commercial results might kick into overdrive any moment now. If it happens and the â€śDecline of Gagaâ€ť becomes an internet meme, expect the music blogs and magazines to fall in line, followed dutifully by the mainstream press. Basically, Iâ€™m predicting a complete backlash in 5â€¦4â€¦3â€¦2â€¦
The foundation of the growing chatter is the very good, but not great sales figures for Gagaâ€™s latest album, â€śBorn This Way,â€ť and the singles itâ€™s yielded thus far. To be fair, the title track was a smash hit that spent a month and a half at #1. Still, a persuasive argument can be made that as hot as Gaga was coming out of the â€śFame Monsterâ€ť era, the first single from the next album was guaranteed to succeed based on momentum alone, regardless of merit.
In the wake of that initial success, however, both follow-up singles have failed to reach the same heights. â€śJudasâ€ť just scraped the top 10 and was roundly labeled a dissapointment by listeners and critics alike, while â€śThe Edge of Gloryâ€ť debuted on the singles chart at a fantastic #3, but never bested that placement during its run.
On the other hand, popstar Katy Perry â€” who has something of a Madonna/Cyndi Lauper thing going with Gaga â€” is poised to score a fifth #1 single from her album â€śTeenage Dream.â€ť If she pulls it off, sheâ€™ll tie a record set by Michael Jackson in 1988 that seemed unlikely to ever be repeated.
As for the album itself, â€śBorn This Wayâ€ť enjoyed massive first week sales but could only manage a puny run as the nationâ€™s bestseller. Adele, the artist Gaga knocked out of the top spot, reclaimed the throne just two weeks later. To date, the U.K. songbirdâ€™s acclaimed â€ś21â€ť has scored 12 non-consecutive weeks at #1 overall (including the week Iâ€™m writing this). Before Adele, the last artist to spend a dozen weeks on top was Carlos Santana with his 1999 comeback juggernaut â€śSupernatural.â€ť
Thereâ€™s no question that the stellar success of Perry and Adele is contributing to the Gaga-fell-off tattle because it shines a harsh light on the superstarâ€™s relative performance. And I do mean the superstar. Nobody in current popular music is as hyped, dissected, promoted and studied as Gaga.
To justify all the ink thatâ€™s spilled and airtime consumed to examine her music, style and politics, Gaga needs to create work and achieve commercial success on a scale that answers the question â€śwhy should we careâ€ť before anyone even thinks to ask it. Otherwise, sheâ€™s an obvious target for contempt.
Having said all this, far be it from me to tell Gaga what to do. But, if I were in her inner circle I would absolutely recommend that she substantially lower her profile when promotion for â€śBorn This Wayâ€ť wraps. Cliche or not, familiarity really does breed contempt â€” something the superstars of the past understood and embraced.
I remember well a time when MJ simply removing his sunglasses to give fans a look at his eyes elicited roars at the Grammys. When TV footage of Prince walking through an airport was greeted like a UFO sighting due to his reclusive nature. On the flip side, a few weeks ago Gaga was a guest judge on reality show â€śSo You Think You Can Dance.â€ť Can you imagine â€śTrue Blueâ€ť-era Madonna even considering such a thing? Ridiculous!
Clearly Gaga feels close to her fans and wants to maintain a real connection to them. She has more Twitter followers than any other person on earth. I love the idea of that, too, but the bottom line cost of that kind of accessibility is the loss of mystery. Looking at the situation from my living room couch, it seems the best way for Gaga to avoid being unceremoniously ushered out of the spotlight in favor of the next big thing is for her to step away from it on her own terms.
It wouldnâ€™t be long before â€śCome back, Gaga, we need you!!!â€ť posts were appearing regularly online. : :