Saturday, August 07, 2010
Once again, Lady Gaga pushes the boundaries of, well, something.
Oh, and don't click the link if you are offended by almost naked breasts.
Gaga beat a path to stardom by first becoming a gay icon in NYC. She wasn't the first.
Bette Midler started out in the early 1970s as the entertainment in a gay NYC bathhouse, with Barry Manilow on piano. If they had had a baby it'd have been Elton John.
Madonna followed in the 1980s. She used the Manhattan gay scene as a springboard. That and "strapping" every straight guy in the business who could advance her career.
Lady Gaga is this generation's version. Better singer than Madonna, not as good a dancer or figure.
Lady Gaga also owes a piano fashion debt to early 1970s Todd Rundgren: Hello It's Me Todd has a great back story, if anyone cares.
"Better singer than Madonna"
It's not that you're wrong, but that you couldn't possibly know that. Even her "accoustic" performances have pretty heavy sound processing. With a little reverb and enough pitch correction, even you could sound like Frank Sinatra. She is probably the worlds leading authority on brand development, though if she's going to appear in public dressed that way, she needs spend more time in the gym. Maybe even hire Madonna as a personal trainer.
"Better singer than Madonna"
Nothing could make me sound like Frank Sinatra.
Madonna was an A student in high school who got a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. She left to try her luck in NYC. So she was a dancer first and always had a tight body. Her singing never impressed me.
Lady Gaga got her early fame at my all-boys NYC Jesuit high school. Stefani Germanotta hated all-girls Convent of the Sacred Heart and hung around our school instead. She was in all our drama productions for four years running and fronted our best rock band. Her later drama performances were legendary -- especially Adelaide in Guys and Dolls -- Rudy showed up one night to see her. Her singing got her into the NYU Tisch School, which she quickly left. She had early success as a songwriter until her singing was brought to the attention of none other than Jimmy Iovine.* The rest is history.
No, I'm not a friend of Dorothy. This all got buzzed on the alumni listserv at one point, including pictures from one of our proms and a graduation. My daughter's friend's father (also an alum) taught her at Sacred Heart.
* Brooklyn boy Jimmy Iovine was a recording engineer at NYC's Record Plant in the 1970s. He recorded Bruce's Darkness album in 1977-78 after working on the first Southside Johnny - Asbury Jukes album in 1976. Iovine recorded lots of big name rock acts after that before getting in on the ground floor of rap as a producer -- he made Eminem's career, among others.
If we're going back to 1970s economic stagnation, can we at least get some good music?
I sent my daughter what follows as I thought she'd like select Todd Rundgren -- someone you never hear on radio anymore.
Philadelphia-born Todd Rudgren is a musical genius -- he's worked in many genres from Pop Rock to Blue-Eyed Soul to Hard Rock to Artsy Progressive Rock. He can play any instrument -- on a lot of his songs he played everything. He had solo success in the early 1970s. He was always ahead of his time, didn't have the strongest voice, and so never got as famous as say Elton John.
He was also a killer producer -- he did the Meatloaf Bat out of Hell album, one of the best produced albums of all time. He fronted the money for it, when no one else would -- it's one of the top 10 sellers of all time. He plays most of the guitar on it too, including Motorcycle Guitar on the title track. Can you guess who's on drums and piano?
Rundgren married Liv Tyler's mom and raised her as his own. You know Liv Tyler as Arwen from Lord of the Rings. She didn't know her real dad was the lead singer from Aerosmith until she was nine. Steve Tyler had had bad drug problems when she was born.
Steve Tyler was born Stephen Tallarico in Yonkers -- his dad was the music teacher in Auntie Moe's high school. (Which means that Steve Tyler's dad taught Sonia Sotomayor).
I Saw The Light
Bang On the Drum All Day
Hello It's Me
From "That 70's Show" pilot. They used it in the final episode too.