Gaga’s visual art disaster,
FOLLOWING THE portentous announcement from the House of Gaga that the world was ready for a look at the cover art of her new album, a tweet arrived from the Lady herself.
“So happy+free to finally share this w you,” she announced, in a modern pop culture version of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments. But instead of building calves out of molten gold to celebrate this revelation, we looked upon what Providence had provided us with and declaimed: “Jaysus, Gaga, is that it?”
The cover of Born This Way, due out on May 20th (see http://twitpic. com/4lwzk9) looks like a cheap Photoshop effort done up in five minutes by someone who may not be in full possession of his or her visual-art senses. The chrome-y typeface reeks of bad hair metal bands from the 1970s, while the image itself – Gaga becoming at one with a motorbike – is something Spinal Tap would roll their eyes at. Still, it has gazillions of pre-orders and is duly being trailed as “the album of the decade”.
The first single off Born This Way, the title track, has already become the fastest-selling track in iTunes’s history. The second single, Judas, rushed out due to an internet leak, topped the iTunes charts in 12 countries within an hour or so of it being made available.
No one in all of contemporary cultural life has gone so high so quickly as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Now, having pushed the Britneys and Beyoncés out of the way, Lady Gaga is aiming for Bowie territory – and hoping to become the most influential artist of her generation. Iconic status is not usually bestowed after just one album, but Gaga, with five Grammys, millions of album sales and most-followed-celeb-ever-onTwitter status, has the music and the style, as well as the culture press as her media lapdogs.
It’s rarefied territory. Even a musician with the status of the E Street Band’s Clarence Clemons confesses he almost crashed his car with excitement after La Gaga summoned him to play on the new album. And Clemons is someone used to breathing the same air as musical dieties. “It was a day I’ll never forget. When I left the studio it took me a few days to come down. What she does, man, it just blows my mind.”
It must be said that stoking up such levels of slobbering anticipation (and Gaga prides herself at having “mastered the art of fame”) is a fraught and risky business. Born This Way will be the biggest seller of the year, but Gaga is all about more than commercial sales; she wants/needs an artistic advance and further cultural penetration.
Which is why the album cover is so worrying – it’s awful. And given that she’s in a position to boss her label around and could have used anyone she wanted to, you have to wonder if those nutcases on the many Gaga forums‚ the ones screaming loudly that the whole thing is a hoax and a post-modern joke at the media’s expense, may not be as demented as they appear.
Be that as it may, Gaga has just gone into the top 10 of yet another chart: for The Worst Album Covers of All Time. It’s perhaps not as perplexingly bad as Boned’s classic Up at the Crack or anything by The Handsome Beats (their covers are artistic in their awfulness), but it’s certainly up there with (and indeed, even looks inspired by) Prince’s Lovesexy, Kevin Rowland’s My Beauty and Cher’s Take Me Home.
What we do know is that if some nobody had handed this sort of artwork into their label they’d have been handed a new box of crayons and told to start all over again. But when your performance-related bonus depends on the performance of Born This Way, you hold your tongue and indulge a woman who hasn’t heard the word “No” for perhaps too long now.