• Pop Vicious

Girl Fight: Europe FTW

written by: on May 4, 2011

The rumblings are on the horizon. Like the monstrous eye of Sauron was to Middle-earth or Darth Vader was to a galaxy far, far away, there is an evil approaching, dressed in ridiculous outfits and dragging a duo of wannabes behind her. And it’s up to us to stop her.

Lady Gaga has arrived to ruin pop music forever. It seems pointless to stop her.

She has iTunes, Rolling Stone, and even fucking Pitchfork on her side. She’s got trailer-trash icon Ke$ha and good Christian bitch Katy Perry on her leash, ready to clear out the opposition for her takeover of radio. She has favorable comparisons to Madonna spewing out of the mouths and asses of sniveling pop writers who say she’s here to save the femme-pop genre from itself.

But rest assured, her reign, inevitable though it may be, will be just as tyrannical, reductive and boring as the former reigns of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. Lady Gaga is terrorism, global warming and corporate greed wrapped into one, and it would seem like she can’t be stopped. But, like Luke Skywalker marooned on Tatooine, there is hope out there—it just happens to be in Europe.

While American audiences seem hell-bent on blending and burning their brain into mush with Lady Gaga and her cadre’s drivel, conscious objectors know that a trio of women seems equally hellbent on saving us from ourselves. First up is Swedish monolith (and Woman-of-the-Year 2010 nominee) Robyn, a swaggering songwriter with panache to match Gaga’s shock-value crap.

Batting second is English breakthrough La Roux, who released the second best femme-pop song of the past five years in “Bulletproof,” and seems poised to drop bombs on American audiences this year after an artistic dalliance with Kanye West.

Lastly, we have the Swedish percussive retro-rager Lykke Li, who has Wounded Rhymes, an early nominee for pop album of the year 2011, ready to sex you to death.

For years, European pop has been a pet genre for those attuned listeners who want more out of their ecstasy-tinged dance-offs.

It was simple to like Europe instead of Britney Spears. But Lady Gaga changed all that. She copped haute couture and overt formist art to make her seem transgressive and forward thinking, even when her handlers are firmly placed in late-’80s Madonna-isms.

Regardless, she dragged everybody back into her spiderweb and is positioned to eat us all. Robyn didn’t make a dent in the half-assed reign of Ke$ha and Katy Perry last year, and to say that Lykke Li, La Roux and the greatest hits off of Robyn’s near-perfect Body Talk series stands any chance to conquer the She-Devil  would be a generous assessment.

So why make the argument? There is a good reason, and it’s something we should all be paying attention to as we bow to “Born This Way” and its friends…

Lady Gaga wants to make you stupid. Born This Way only succeeds if we consciously ignore the facts of its unoriginality. Katy Perry and Ke$ha only sell if we recognize that, at their core, they’re the exact same person with one differentiating characteristic (Katy Perry’s rack, Ke$ha’s tussled hair and duct tape dresses).

Lady Gaga threw them into 2010 to cannibalize their audience, to disillusion those radio-listening hipsters into thinking that Top 40 had finally died. Then, just at the right moment, Gaga would sweep in and remind everybody that her faux-art is better than Perry’s or Ke$ha’s.

But it isn’t—it’s just a different vantage point. Gaga has nothing more interesting to say than “We R Who We R” or “Firework,” but she seems like she does because she wears weird things and calls her fans “monsters.”

Her tyranny is that of artifice—Lady Gaga benefits because she positions herself as the best of the worst possible scenarios. Lady Gaga is the Bush Administration.

But we can still stop this. We can open our ears and tell Lady Gaga that we don’t have to accept her repackaged nonsense as the best we’re going to get. With black eyes and bruised ear canals we can arrive at “Get Some” or “Bulletproof” or “Dancing on My Own” and realize that real, feminine pop songcraft still exists in a post-Madonna world.

Robyn, Lykke Li and La Roux commit themselves to discovering new forms of the pop song—take a look at “Sadness is a Blessing,” which is basically a Duffy song filtered through tympani drums and distortion. And yet, you still want to dance.

It’s not hard to think and dance at the same time Lady Gaga and her predecessors just want you to think it is because in doing both, we realize their crimes against music are all the more apparent. These Swedish (and in La Roux’s case, English) women are waving the white flag of “HOPE,” the reminder that we don’t have to settle for ’80s ripoffs.

We deserve better than Lady Gaga. So when you buy your tickets to Katy Perry’s summer tour, try arriving and leaving early—Robyn will be stealing the show every date, guaranteed.

This plea could fall on deaf ears. Maybe the people who bump Gaga to the top of iTunes are already deaf, dumb and dead. Maybe Gaga has already won. But I don’t want to live in a world ruled by Sauron, Darth Vader or Fear. And that, my friends, is what Lady Gaga is.

She is fear of discovery, the fear of knowledge and the terrifying reality that there is nothing else. Don’t let Gaga win. Choose to think and Fight the Power. It’s her or us. I choose us.