Thursday, 8 September 2011

Inspired by Goth: Lady GaGa

'Inspired by Goth' is another new feature here at the Goth Guide investigating examples of the Goth aesthetic being used as inspiration by mainstream businesses or celebrities. I chose to begin with Lady GaGa; although her musical appeal is largely mainstream, it's interesting to note that many Goths on message boards and forums list GaGa's music amongst their guilty pleasures, and more than a few Goths even count her among their favourites. I have often thought that many non-Goths would probably find themselves enjoying or tapping their toes to Goth bands, should they ever find their way onto mainstream music TV or radio stations, but GaGa's infectious blend of danceable pop seems to prove that the reverse is also, possibly, true.

Perhaps GaGa's popularity amongst the Goth population is not as surprising as it seems. She lists such Goth favourites as Joy Division and Depeche Mode amongst her musical influences, and a few of her earlier singles in particular (Just Dance, Poker Face, Bad Romance, Alejandro) always struck me as somewhat reminiscent of the synthpop and bouncy 80s pop beloved by many of those involved in the dark alternative scenes. A lot of Goths have a soft spot for 80s artists such as Cyndi Lauper and early Madonna (reflected in some Goth music too - for example, Emilie Autumn's song Swallow has often been described as similar to Madonna's early hits, albeit more acid-tongued), which again goes some way towards explaining why GaGa's large black-tinged fanbase is not as unlikely as you might think.

Unconventionally-clad female musicians are, as I have alluded to above, somewhat of a staple in the Goth scene. To name but a few, Siouxsie Sioux, Danielle Dax and Nina Hagen. Back in the late 70s, Siouxsie's fiercely backcombed hair, torn clothing and heavy dark make-up were possibly considered just as shocking as GaGa's crazy shoes and meat dress. GaGa's wardrobe runs the gamut from 'things Goths would wear', to 'things Goths admire but probably wouldn't wear' to 'really, nobody else would go there', but on the whole Goths seem to appreciate someone else who dares to be unconventional, especially in the public eye. (I do, however, wish that GaGa seemed to enjoy all her crazy fashions a little more; sometimes she gives the impression that she's only wearing them to be shocking, which is a little silly... Also, GaGa, honey... there are more ways to be shocking and liberated than getting semi-naked at every available opportunity. *pet peeve alert*)
 Lady GaGa
Happily, the Goth aesthetic has lent a dark tinge to more than just some areas of GaGa's wardrobe. Her videos often lean towards the dark side, featuring such nods to our subculture as the futuristic, cyber-tinged, but quite darkly themed video for Bad Romance; the black lipstick and campy not-quite-horror of Telephone; and not forgetting, of course, the PVC nun costume in the oh-so-shocking vid for Alejandro.

Despite all the above - her occasionally-spooky wardrobe, the dark themes in her videos and the Goth inspirations behind her music - I expect that much of Lady GaGa's mainstream fanbase would be slightly alarmed to learn that their beloved songstress has so many ties to the Goth scene. At least what they don't know won't hurt them...

Goth gossip: After their 'final' split in 2008, infamous band Ministry have re-formed for a new album. Exciting news!


Vivienne Moss said...

Happy to see you back. I have missed your posts. Love Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper was my first concert. Of course I'm giving away my age with that.

Yay for Ministry, one of my faves along with Thrill Kill Kult.

Kawaii Pony said...

Love this! As someone who used to be 'gother-than-thou' (toned it down now) I always noticed that lady gaga's fashion had a slight flavour of goth to it. I especially noticed the dark influnce of her new album born this way - many of the tracks give off a sort of industrial and semi-gothic sound to the (government hooker & electric chapel especially). By and by, thank you for writing down what I've always noticed - glad to know I'm not alone! :)

Ashlee said...

Didn't she also have the Dresden Dolls listed as inspiration?

Phoenix said...

I agree that it is silly that she seems to only be wearing her outfits to be shocking, especially when I find her music so monotonous and uninspired (sorry to any fans out there - this is just my opinion!). There are way better female pop/electro artists out there in my opinion.

Another pet peeve of mine is the amount of outfits she has ripped off from other artists (usually for shows/shoots/event appearances)... for example: Annie Lennox, Bette Midler (who actually called her out on it), Roisin Murphy and Peaches. That's just a small list off the top of my head. I also recall one of my favourite alt model/artists doing an entire blog post of the eerie similarities between the some of the outfits in her art photography and several of GaGa's outfits.

I just hate it when hugely successful pop artists rip ideas off from other people, especially underground/less known artists and performers (like Peaches and Roisin).

Other than that, some of her everyday outfits can be pretty interesting, and definitely goth/alt inspired, so I agree with you there :)

Gothic Queen said...

I respect pop artists but with Lady GaGA, I don't know.

I have my fine share of pop music that I have on my mp3 player but with Lady G. I don't know.

I always found her music a bit...annoying and unimportant.

I think Emilie Autumn kicks way more ass than she does.

Nephälia VonDämonen said...

Generally, I like Lady Gaga. I absolutely love her meat dress and shoes and I truly wish I could buy them somewhere. I like her music too,somewhat, although not so much her earliest stuff. The one thing I hate is that it really seems as if she's being like she is JUST for attention, it's so sad, I wish her heart was in it; that she was doing it because she WANTED to.
So, I don't LOVE her, but I do like her...

InfiltratorN7 said...

You know, I wouldn't know a Lady GaGa song if it you put one on. I just don't know anything about her or her music. All I know is she wore a meat dress once (why?! That sounds pretty awful actually). I was quite surprised by the number of times she's been mentioned on this blog by people. Didn't know she was popular among goths. If she doesn't enjoy what she wears then yes that's quite sad. She should be doing something because she enjoys it not just to shock people or because that's what the record company wants. This is why I love Pink. I love how she broke away from what the record companies originally wanted her to be.

Anonymous said...

WOW....Lady GAGA is everything...I grew up on Madonna, Siouxsie, and the cure in the 90's and Lady Gaga was my girl the moment I heard her---SHE IS EVERYTHING these artists are and more! Even Johnny Lydon from the sex pistols agrees Lady Gaga is it! repentage thx loveugodbless tj kabbalah matthewshepard madonnalicious

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