… she dressed and behaved like other 24-year old women? Would you listen to her music if she was less controversial showing up on stage in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt? Lady G is who she is, and unapologetically so. It is the controversy she sparks creating a larger than life image drawing far more people to the legend she’s creating. Her fame is not based on unformulated, well-executed music.
Perhaps you’ve read or heard performing artists should not use their career as a soapbox. I respectfully disagree. If a performing artist appears like milquetoast with no opinions they can voice, they offer no leadership to their fans. Artists need to be charismatic in order to lead legions of fans, great or small, in building successful careers. If performing careers were built solely on the execution of craft, far fewer artists would have made a name for themselves.
Soft news or good news is no news. Hard news on the other hand travels like wildfire and the bigger the name, the longer the news tends to last. It’s just human nature the masses are drawn to something a bit off-center, with a little juice, kicking things up a notch that gets people talking. I’d venture to say that John Lennon was as controversial in his early career as he was later on. He took a stand on all issues he believed in whether it was the use of drugs, infamous disagreements with bandmates, or his eternal mantra, ” give peace a chance. ”
Throughout his career Lennon continually built a stronger platform for his beliefs and he had a career that afforded him to take a stand. Lady Gaga is compared to Madonna based on the notion that each of them has used controversy as a ladder building their rise to fame. There is nothing remotely pedistrian about either of them. And that is the genius behind their marketing efforts. They understand what makes the media tick.
Have you noticed at the onset or during the launch of big budget projects someone involved often gets arrested; relationship issues are splashed across headlines; car accidents and stints in rehab fuel gossip columns? This is largely due to PR teams manipulating the media to get ink and airtime at precisely the right moment. TMZ has built a media empire breaking scandalous, cutting-edge news no matter how trivial or tragic.
So here is the bottom line: Looking like and sounding like any number of performing artists anywhere in the world is certain to keep a potential, charasmatic leader within the safety of the flock. It’s the black sheep that gets the lion’s share of attention. In order to push the boundaries of a career for broader appeal, performing artists need to take a stand. Whether it is politics, or any number of social issues that need an active voice – take calculated risks in speaking out and becoming a leader for those who believe as you do. Certainly offending someone is a consequence. But better to have people talking about you for the wrong reasons than generating no buzz at all. If you attempt to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.