Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gaga is named this way

Media Moment: Lady Gaga special on CTV
Queen-related: Freddie discussed

Lady Gaga’s latest and most anticipated album, Born This Way, was released yesterday and CTV here in Canada aired a one-hour documentary/interview with her to coincide with her concert at Air Canada Centre in Toronto recently.

E-Talk’s Ben Mulroney — Canada’s answer to Ryan Seacrest — had the privilege of interviewing her backstage before the Toronto concert. The interview clips were interspersed with glimpses into her travelling wardrobe collection as well as her makeshift home office where she brainstorms ideas and displays pictures and paraphernalia that inspires her or comforts her in some way.

The office shots were really interesting because it provides some insight into who Gaga is as both an artist and regular person. There were concert posters from Poison, Wendy O’Williams, and other miscellaneous 80s hair bands. There’s a photo of the Beatles and Bob Dylan on her desk. There’s an autographed picture of Sting and one of her and Elton John. It seems as though she draws inspiration from all genres and eras of pop music. What was curiously absent, though, was any evidence of Freddie or Queen. Sup with that?

Well, I didn’t have to wait long before Freddie makes an appearance . . . just not as an accoutrement in her office. One of the voiceover sequences that Ben provides is an overview of the various musical influences that Gaga admits to. At one point, Ben mentions she is a keen follower of glam rock and 80s icons like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. A corresponding set of images appears on the screen (seen here) but Freddie’s name isn’t mentioned. But he does get some co-display time with Ms. Spears. Brief as it was, at least the band that inspired her name gets an acknowledgement.

What about her name? Would Ben ask her where it came from or has she told that story enough in the past three years that it’s old hat? Nope, it comes up in a clip aired in 2008 —again during a stop in Toronto — where she talks about taking her name from a suggestion by her producer. Here is a transcript of that clip:

“Well, I didn’t name myself ‘Gaga.’ My producer . . . he said I’m very theatrical when I perform. So, he would say that you’re so gaga. So one day I said, ‘you mean like the Queen record?’ He looks at me and says, ‘yeah, you’re like Freddie Mercury.’ [Gaga continues] You have to live and breath your art and if you don’t, you won’t get anywhere. And I got here by working very hard and that’s what the name is really about.”

So the word “gaga” has morphed into something different than what Roger originally described as the inspiration behind the lyric to the song, that being baby gibberish (which was a disguised metaphor for the state of radio in the early 80s). But now, Lady Gaga has taken the word away from the Queen context and uses it as a label for awestruck or wonderment instead of baby talk. It’s valid, in my opinion, because she’s proven to be unafraid of controversy and literally pushes the artistic envelope in her shows, fashions, and song themes. All characteristics that Freddie would respect and live by.

Her ties to Queen get even closer with this album since Brian guests on one of the album tracks (Yoü and I). I can’t wait to hear it.

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