It’s official: Lady Gaga will bring her fashion-forward stage show to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, as she is set to perform at the ceremony on September 13. Though I love Jay-Z, Green Day and the other acts already announced as performers, I’m most looking forward to Gaga. I echo James Montgomery’s enthusiasm for The Fame — even without the juggernaut singles, it would still be one of the more impressive pop albums of the past decade. When you add in her phenomenal approach to fashion, her ultra-quotable interviews and her extraordinary visual sense (hence her nine VMA nominations), you get a tremendous package. (No pun intended.)
But the woman born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta didn’t simply drop from the sky fully formed. Rather, she’s a careful construction of a number of other stars. Think of her as the FrankenStar, made up of the parts below.
David Bowie: Bowie spent most of his early career pretending he came to this planet from outer space. Those shiny suits Gaga wears? Totally Bowie. And Ziggy Stardust was also obsessed with the concept of fame — in fact, it was the title of one of his biggest hits.
Grace Jones: A woman who plays a hybrid stew of pop styles and has a commitment to stage costumes? That sounds familiar.
Axl Rose: Axl was a great singer and frontman (and hell, an underrated dancer), but the thing he was great at was creating a sense of unpredictability and danger wherever he went. Gaga has yet to refuse to perform because her deli tray wasn’t up to snuff, but every time she shows up to an interview in costume or performs live, there’s always the possibility that something could get out of hand — and that’s awesome.
Kelis: Gaga probably wishes every night that she was the one who wrote “Milkshake,” as it’s probably the best double-entendre tune of the past 20 years. But perhaps Gaga’s greatest skill is making things sound dirty — after all, “Bluffin’ with my muffin” sounds like it should be filthy, but maybe it isn’t after all.
Kurt Cobain: It may seem like a stretch, but one of the genius things that Cobain did during his all-too-brief career was not take himself seriously. Whether it was in videos, on stage or during interviews, Cobain sometimes came across like a guy who didn’t care about being famous or even being a musician. Gaga is the same way — sometimes, it seems like she’s just going to stand up and say “Gotcha!” and laugh at our expense. Again, that sort of unpredictability is so rare that it becomes truly thrilling.
I’m putting my money down now: Lady Gaga will steal the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.