Earth is a cinder,
but Radio Free Gaga
tells us to fight on.
I don't understand the haters on Lady Gaga; people don't razz people who write in genres about not inventing every trope. Hey you, space ships? We already had those! Closed door murder? You didn't invent that! Lizzy Goodman gets that Lady Gaga is operating in a milieu, creating a body of work in the genre of pop music. & I do mean a body, in all that it implies. This is a nice big coffee table book, which I picked up for the pictures more than anything, but I was happy to see that Goodman has intelligent things to say in her very breezy style. She traces Gaga's roots, & doesn't stop at the close but no cigar answer of Madonna-- I mean, Freddy Mercury & David Bowie are obviously the real kingpins in Gaga's pantheon, right? Draw straws to see who gets heaven & who gets hell, boys. Lady Gaga & Damien Hirst & their ilk are the new demi-gods, adventuring on Midgard. Goodman drops a few clever turns of phrase, too; I especially liked when she compared Lady Gaga to skipping the Moulin Rouge for the Grand-Guignol.
Every so often I look at a book like this & am pleasantly surprised by the price point. Twenty dollars? That-- that is entirely reasonable? Wow. I called this a "coffee table book" & it is, in the very real sense of the word. If you put this on your coffee table, people will pick it up & leaf through it. It isn't a stuffy book you put there to make guests marvel at how erudite you pretend you are: this is a book that is worth having so that people can marvel at Gaga. You flip through & get to relive her performances, you get to stop & take a long gander at the spectacle. The book's reading line has "fashion" in it, & that is the solid draw here-- the visual component of Gaga's burlesque. Just lovely; I can't get enough of the fact that she has actual taste. She's her own handler. The book closes with a quick do-it-yourself primer, a crash course on Gaga's influences, both fashion & musical. All in all, I'm surprisingly charmed; I grabbed it up to see Gaga in great outfits, but got more than I bargained for.