Gaga’s vis­ual art disas­ter,

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

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.

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