There are few ways to be loved more or hated more than being a pop artist. Even politicians seldom reach the pinnacle level of fan obsession and critical disgust as performers like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga. While professional critics and amateur YouTube haters will shout to the heavens that Lady Gaga is “not very good,” “not really music,” or “sucks” the real reason we hate her is that she is so good… at making us like her.
Pop Music Isn’t Easy, It’s Just Popular
If American Idol should have taught us anything, it’s that pop music is NOT easy. Not only can very few perform it, even less can write it consistently. Sure there is a plethora of “one hit wonders” out there, but only those who consistently deliver become legends. You doubt? Name me two songs by MC Hammer without Googling it… I didn’t think so.
Just because we all hear pop music, a lot, doesn’t mean it’s easy. If it was really easy, pop artists wouldn’t be so… um… popular. There would be so many of them we wouldn’t care anymore, like congressional representatives. Pop music isn’t just about the songs; it is about the performances, the fantasy, the escape, and the consistency. We count on pop musicians to deliver an advertised experience we look forward to.
Pop Music Is a Great Equalizer, and We Hate That Too
We love being individuals and there is little we identify with more strongly with than our music. There is nothing which feels more insulting than grooving to a song in our car than to turn around and see someone we really hate listening to the same thing. “Hey! You can’t like that. I like that. It’s MY song.” OK, we don’t say that, but we think it.
We feel “dirty” when we like music other people dramatically different from us like too. I am not saying this is a good thing, I am just saying this is how we are. Even I, at 32 with a professional career, feel embarrassed to find myself rocking’ out to the same music as a teenage girl who still thinks being vegetarian means only buying your meat at a grocery store. We really hate how pop music makes us all seem so… similar.
Lady Gaga Is a Master of Pop, and That Goes Beyond the Music
Tom Moon, at NPR, said of Lady Gaga’s latest album ARTPOP: “Sometimes it’s cool when you can’t tell the circus from the sideshow, but with this album, I couldn’t shake the sense that the ‘art’ of ARTPOP is much more evident in the marketing than in the music.”
He is right, Lady Gaga is a master of the art of pop culture. The performances, the experiences, the escape, and making grown men tap a foot to the same music as teenie-boppers on their iPhones. However, just because Lady Gaga is so good at making music we all like doesn’t mean she is being cheap or contrived, it means she is being a professional. Lady Gaga makes a great product, and we only hate it because we love it so much. Lady Gaga has built a pop empire, and as a fellow megalomaniac, I have only the deepest respect for her tremendous talent and shrewd strategy.