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Old 02-13-2017, 09:03 PM
Aeschines Aeschines is offline
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Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
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"Joanne" and Lady Gaga's career arc

I wouldn't call myself a "fan" per se, but I've liked a bunch of Gaga's songs and videos in the past. IMHO, she went off the rails with her album Born This Way and has never gotten back to the level of fame, enthusiasm, prominence--call it what you will--that she had around 2008-2009.

Before Joanne came out, two songs were up on YouTube: A-yo and Million Reasons. I liked both these songs. Then I forgot about the album, and I never heard anything about it again. I've never heard any of the songs out and about, and I've never heard anyone say a word about it. I did an "Advanced Search" here on SDMB just now, and apparently no one started a thread about it.

It seems like it didn't have much of a pop cultural impact. Wikipedia link from which I will pull some quotes:

Re the critical reception:

Joanne received a weighted score of 67 out of 100 from review aggregate website Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on 27 reviews from music critics.
I don't consider a 67 on Metacritic to indicate much enthusiasm. But that's all kinda whatever...

Re the sales results:

In the United States, Joanne debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 170,000 copies in its first week, and 201,000 total album-equivalent units according to Nielsen SoundScan.
A 170k #1 says more about the record market these days than about the album itself. 170k is something, a figure that most bands can only fantasize about--but, at the same time, it's also nothing. Compare to Swift and Adele debuts. A tiny fraction thereof.

So... one may argue about the critical reception and the sales and their meanings, if any, but the album seems to have had minimal impact. I guess I said that already.

Thing is, I was excited about Gaga back in 2009. She had cool songs, she had outrageous videos, and people including and beyond her immediate fanbase gave a shit. I *like* it when there seems to be something going on in pop culture that people care about. Then, as most artists do, Gaga descended from her peak, and now... it is what it is. Maybe some of you can provide more insight than I am offering here. Maybe I'm incorrectly interpreting things...

Last edited by Aeschines; 02-13-2017 at 09:06 PM.
Old 02-14-2017, 02:36 AM
bienville bienville is offline
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I like The Fame and The Fame Monster but didn't add either of them to my music collection until the songs had grown on me a while. I didn't own either album until almost the time when Born This Way came out.

None of the singles from Born This Way impressed me. Consequently, I lost a bit of enthusiasm for her and have never ended up listening to the full album.

I liked the songs I heard from Artpop but never got around to buying it or listening to it through. This is the album she was promoting when she did the Christmas special with The Muppets. That T.V. special was far from spectacular, but I found it perfectly enjoyable- both for her and for the Muppets.

I think the album she did with Tony Bennett is excellent. I actually think it's a wonderful "starter kit" for anyone who's interested in better getting to know old standards but hasn't yet taken the plunge.

Bringing us to Joanne...
I think Joanne is easily the best Gaga album for listening straight through without skipping any tracks. There are no individual songs on the album that come close to early hits like "Poker Face", "Paparazzi", or "Bad Romance" but for listening straight through as an album it is definitely her best work.

As far as not selling in Adele or Swift numbers...
It's been my impression that she's personally just felt done with chasing after topping herself or making any attempt at being the biggest star. She took a three year break between pop albums- having done the Tony Bennett album and some acclaimed acting in the interval- and I think she's just settled into the mindset of, "I'll do the work I want to do, put it out, and whoever is interested can listen."

Not only does she have enough money to not need to ever work again the rest of her life, her early successes were big enough to ensure that anything she does will get more than sufficient attention from the press and she's got a big enough fan base that her projects will make money for anyone who's put money in... so, she can pretty much just keep doing what she wants to do without any stress.

She just did the Superbowl, a gig which brings with it a bit of "elder statesman" esteem. She sang with generally respected extra elder elder statesmen Metallica at The Grammy's- a performance that will not go down in history but had the sincere fun of a one-off number done just for the love of the experience.

The only thing that could hurt her is if she were to try to be the hottest thing in music and then fall on her face. That's when artists get called out as being washed up. So long as she maintains this attitude of "I'm just doing the work I want to do, hope you enjoy it" (even if it is contrived and insincere- which I don't think is the case), then she can always count on a decent level of respect and she can keep going. If her next album happens to be a huge megahit, she'll be in the esteemed position of being able to say, "I was just making the music I wanted to make, I'm so happy it has also connected with so many people" and that brings the kind of love and cred that is really hard to achieve.
Old 02-14-2017, 04:00 AM
Helena330 Helena330 is offline
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Location: Near Seattle, WA, USA
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I'm just glad she's over her Sound of Music phase. What the hell was that?? She has a lovely voice, but I had ultra-conservative people telling me they liked her which ruined her for me. I loved Bad Romance, Poker Face, Born This Way, etc. so that business was really hard to take.
Old 02-14-2017, 05:18 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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It turns out she's more Liza Minelli than David Bowie. I.e., she is a strong vocalist-entertainer with a heavy layer of costumes and show, not someone who is truly innovating with her identity and music.

Past the initial shock of her persona, her songs are solid and her vocals are excellent. I suspect her sales reflect that.
Old 02-14-2017, 01:33 PM
Aeschines Aeschines is offline
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Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
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You guys have some plausible interpretations: her settling into a lower-key career. I kinda miss the excitement, however.
Old 02-14-2017, 01:40 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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The whole "dresses made of muppets" thing was a calculated act. She's always had the musical chops, but that and $4 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So she consciously decided to make herself into a media spectacle. Now that she's a household name, she can go back to just making music, plus occasionally putting on a silly costume.
Old 02-14-2017, 05:50 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Her arc is more Cyndi Lauper than Madonna. I respect that. She has actual musical talent (which I think the Tony Bennet album proved) and is respected by fellow musicians for it. She's had her superstar phase and doesn't seem to really feel the need to keep chasing that particular star full out. I kind of expect her to get more into genres that are further away from pop. She's likely to have a long career, but probably not a consistent Madonna-level of fame.

Who knows, maybe in 30 years she'll win a Tony for Best Score of a Musical.
Old 02-14-2017, 06:45 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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I will say this, that during her Super Bowl show there were at least four or five points where my sister and nieces said "I didn't realize that was a Gaga song". So that means on the one hand that people are hearing her music enough to recognize it, but on the other that she herself isn't the spectacle she once was.
Old 02-14-2017, 07:18 PM
lisiate lisiate is online now
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Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
It turns out she's more Liza Minelli than David Bowie. I.e., she is a strong vocalist-entertainer with a heavy layer of costumes and show, not someone who is truly innovating with her identity and music.

Past the initial shock of her persona, her songs are solid and her vocals are excellent. I suspect her sales reflect that.
That's a great way to put it.

Around 2009 or so I was convinced Lady Gaga would be the biggest star of her generation.


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