With a couple of huge UK gigs recently scheduled, it may be contrary to question the relevance and influence of Lady Gaga. Yet, we can't help feel the momentum halting as Gaga continues to do the rounds at transatlantic stadiums.
Her saturation is such that she will never go hungry, always in possession of the ability to fill arenas and airwaves. Something less tangible and easily maintained is at stake though, and that's her iconoclasm.
Lady Gaga is so remarkable because she has been able to achieve in the 21st century what few thought was still possible: become a megastar in the same way icons existed prior to the advent of the internet. Music's online presence has limited our attention spans, the public now perpetually twitchy, on the precipice of discovering something new and more exciting. Somehow, Gaga has been able to halt the carosel and direct the world's collective gaze at her for a sustained period.
But this is 2012, and though we have devoured and consumed her music, her techniques employed to enchant and engage may be wearing thin. The problem with her shock tactics is that their effects are ephemeral; she can wear outlandish costumes and produce extended music videos, but the flourescence of Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj negates her individuality and, for all the hype, people quickly understood 'Telephone' as a failed attempt to spark a music video renaissance. It's likely noone will achieve their 'Thriller' moment.
Speaking of which, Gaga has gained countless fans through methods of defiance. Her rallying of people to unite against homophobia, especially the pernicious 'don't ask, don't tell' culture within America's armed forces is admirable, but her general conformity, as most egregiously displayed in the 'Telephone' clip, betrays her meat dress-wearing antiestablishmentarianism. Why should we listen to Gaga's politics of the oppressed when she's simulataneously taking the corporate dollar, wearing branded accoutrements (see: Coke cans as hair curlers). Clearly, there is an uncomfortable conflict here. While her career is her own, her rebellion remains a manufactured one.
Gaga's fanbase is fiercely protective and certainly extensive, and while some of their affections will stray as they age, she has (barring a catastrophic misjudgment) a considerable group of followers for life. Unfortunately, we're in doubt as to whether she has what is required to keep her moniker trending. Perhaps she is herself becoming disenchanted. There are only so many wigs you can don and social networks you can create before you come to understand that peoples' cultural appetites can no longer be sated for any considerable period of time by one artist. Her recent tweets tacitly approving the methods used by people with eating disorders appeared out of character, but not ultimately surprising. Maybe she's just a pop star, after all.