gaga Frustrating thinkpiece by Ann Powers on Lady Gaga and an apparent turn to theatricality in pop. Frustrating because what I want it to do is zero in a bit more on what Gaga’s “persona” that “never breaks” is and instead it keeps trying to look outward and connect every current dot. There’s plenty of counter-trend stuff out there – worldwide, the Kings Of bloody Leon are as big if not bigger a deal than Gaga – so a macro piece like this is bound to look a bit flimsy. Powers is always insightful and there’s a bunch of good individual points but the whole feels a bit underdone to me.

But Gaga herself – I mean, she’s become a huge pop star and that’s interesting, and if the tunes aren’t doing much for me yet I’ve started to really like some of the visual stuff she’s playing with. I don’t mind her concept – or rather her endlessly deferred tease as to what her concept actually might be. I admire the way she’s done what a lot of stars do, and framed herself so that any critical question you might think to ask about her rebounds on you a bit.

If Gaga has closed off the “this is the real me” option then that’s interesting (though not unprecedented). But I also think all the art stuff feels kind of defensive, a get-out-of-jail-free card her icons didn’t need. And defensive in exactly the same way as “real me” moves: it creates an artist-Gaga behind the persona-Gaga who performs the exact same function as the real-T-Pain behind the autotune T-Pain, even if she doesn’t ever come out.

*Apologies for this completely misleading and trolling headline. I did it for art!