Is Being Risky the Best Thing for Lady Gaga?
The Adele Domination
In my previous article, I explained how Gaga’s over-saturation in the mainstream media, was partially responsible for her missing the mark when it came to her singles released from Born This Way. Though they were accompanied by extravagant visuals, flashy premiers and stunning producing, Gaga kept failing to reach the Billboard Hot 100 #1. Aside from the title track, which due to its intense promotion, was bound to be a hit long before it was actually released, why were her tracks generally falling short?
Her album fell from the top spot after only sitting there for two weeks, making way for Adele’s “21” which claimed and reclaimed the top spot for 24 non-consecutive weeks, the longest since an album released in 1985 had set the record. Why had Gaga’s album fallen so quickly compared to Adele? Adele was less flashy, less dramatic, less over-the-top.
It may be arguable that the considerable sales made in the first week had exhausted the customers, but Adele racked up a massive 5.81 million copies sold in 2011. Though Born This Way was the third best-selling album of the year, its 2.1 million copies seems measly in comparison.
So why is it that Adele had such brutal success whilst Gaga could not keep up? It comes down to universal appeal. Adele, it seems had captured the ears of listeners of every demographic. Her music could be enjoyed by everyone. My uncle, well into his 50s had been caught by his daughter listening “Someone Like You” in the wee hours of the morning. And youths of any age was just as enthralled by her music. This is where Gaga lacks the finesse to bridge the gap between the generations.
Lady Gaga - Just Dance
Bridging the Gap
Is this a bad thing?
No, not necessarily. This fact only serves to emphasize that Gaga has a specific fan base that she caters for – youth and the LGBT community. Her music, from the Fame-era had mass appeal, but her Born This Way-era had been more polarizing. It is either you hate her or you love her. This market is to whom she targets; which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can cause her to land in hot water. But there is a way she can benefit from her niche target.
Songs like “Born This Way” are great when targeting a certain sector of the population. Little monsters love her raunchy, flamboyant, noisy Gaga-ness, but music of this nature alone does not translate into long-lasting exponential sales as seen by Adele. So what does this mean, how can she translate her love for her little monsters and her need to appeal to the masses, into chart-tearing music and album sales?
Pitch together several catchy, pop tunes from the Fame-era which are likeable and memorable enough to appeal to any demographic, and then lay it on thick and deep with the Heavy Metal Lover-type music of the Born This Way-era, and voila, you got yourself an album that can appeal to any age, any gender, any person – because now you have gotten the whole populate scampering to buy your album.
A Balanced Album
Gaga is constantly trying to push the envelope, break boundaries, tear down walls… and this is why we love her! But you can’t change everything and leave behind the audience who loved “Just Dance” but can’t wrap their heads around “Judas”. I’m not saying to stop trying to push further, but what I am saying is to push, while making sure not to forget the Just Dance-fans.
Mother Monster commented on Artpop, saying that the new album is “like an assault… on your mind, ears, body.” That sounds good, right? Indeed… but what worries me is that it would lack mass appeal, and we will see another slippery slope for the album. Born This Way fell 85% from the first week to the second. Though such a drastic decrease was primarily due to the massive first-week sales, Gaga can buffer the effect and keep her album in the running by allowing a good mix of songs, to cater to different palates and allow her album to be an evergreen success. And the way to attenuate the blow is not by having an album that is purely an assault on the mind, body and ears.
So is being “very risky” the best option? As diehard of a little monster as I am, I cannot in right mind endorse what Gaga is currently doing by putting all her eggs in one basket. If her album flops, it can hurt her big time. But Gaga always has millions of fans that will buy her album once it releases. She knows she has a market. She knows that she doesn’t have to pander to the mainstream. Perhaps this is why she allows herself to experiment and be as crazy as she wants.
So Queen Gaga, go ahead and continue pushing boundaries, but don’t forget that it doesn’t hurt to indulge the masses – a little Just Dance can’t hurt, right?