Can Lady Gaga remain relevant the way Madonna has?

Can Lady Gaga remain relevant the way Madonna has?

Can Lady Gaga remain relevant the way Madonna has?

Human Behavior Expert and Celebrity Life Coach Patrick Wanis, PhD, answers a reporter’s in-depth questions about Lady Gaga, Madonna and the social and artistic impact each one has had. This is Part 3: Can Lady Gaga remain relevant the way Madonna has? For Part 2: How famous artists like Lady Gaga got their look, click here.

Natalia: Okay. That actually brings me to one of the other questions. Gaga’s critics say that she can’t survive based on gimmicks alone because the reason why Madonna succeeded and why she is still relevant, as you just mentioned, is that she has reinvented herself. She has evolved. She has grown and we have seen that along her 25-30 years of musical career.

Whereas Lady Gaga, yes, she came out in a shocking, theatrical, in-your-face way and it’s been like that all the time. But people say that she just can’t survive on gimmicks alone. How is it that she could reinvent herself like Madonna has for so long in order to remain relevant?

Patrick: Well, that’s always the biggest challenge for an artist who comes out with a style, an image and a look that is dramatic and so theatrical and so shocking. The audience always expects you to keep evolving and keep becoming more shocking, not less shocking. So for her, before we answer that question, we need to say that I think audiences will tire of her if all she becomes is a Halloween costume every day. That’s number one. Number two: her music has to be relevant, so there has to be a message in the music. Madonna said messages in her songs. I gave you the example of “Papa Don’t Preach” or “Express Yourself.” She had the messages and her messages were more subtle. They were clear, they were direct, but they weren’t as loud and as noisy and as extreme as Lady Gaga.

The other advantage that Madonna has is that for so many years, because she’s been around so long, she’s had access to the best writers, to the best music writers and composers and lyricists in the industry so she could choose songs. For example, she didn’t write “Like a Virgin.” “Like a Virgin” was offered to her and it was offered to another artist as well; I don’t recall who that was; and I think the other artist turned it down and Madonna took it on, and it was because Madonna brought herself into the music.

So remember, Madonna didn’t write that song “Like a Virgin,” but when she sang it, it felt like it was her song. It felt like it was coming from inside of her. So Madonna has always been very selective with the songs she has chosen. Madonna has tried different styles. She has explored different styles.

For Lady Gaga to succeed, she has to shock us by going a completely different way for a while. This is just my opinion. It doesn’t mean that it’s right. But if she wanted to shock the world, she should go the complete opposite way.

For example, Adele. Why did Adele become so famous? Do you know why? The reason Adele became so famous is because she didn’t put on a costume; she didn’t try to become sexual; she didn’t try to titillate or excite you sexually, erotically; she didn’t scream at you; she stood there like a woman.

Natalia: She just sang.

Patrick: Yes. She stood there as a woman; she sang; and she sang with extraordinary emotion and sincerity and depth.

Now, if Lady Gaga was to do that suddenly and stop the costumes and suddenly sing songs that are more heart-evoking or more emotional and not so dance-oriented and not so disco-oriented or house-oriented, then she could enter a new genre and appeal to a whole new audience and then from there start re-evolving or reinventing herself. She won’t be able to keep doing the same thing forever. She’ll be able to keep putting on concerts, but she won’t be able to keep creating new music and new styles.


The other example is The Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones haven’t created lots of new exciting music in years, but for many years they survived and they kept themselves alive by their performance. And you’ll see that more in those established acts – that they don’t create new music but they keep performing.

Click here for Part 4 of the interview – Why Madonna isn’t fascinating anymore

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