Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Author: Paul Lester
Publisher: Omnibus Press
ISBN-10: 1849384053: ISBN-13: 978-1849384056
Since late 2008, New Yorker Stefani Germanotta’s transformation into international superstar Lady Gaga has fascinated just about everyone who listens to popular music. After all, she had just turned 22 when her debut album, The Fame, took audiences and critics by storm, earning six Grammy and nine MTV Award nominations and spinning off a series of top-selling singles. She quickly became an ubiquitous presence on television, on stage, and especially on the internet where downloads of her songs have gone over one billion hits. True, she’s been shunned by some of her idols, notably Grace Jones and Madonna, but embraced by the likes of Yoko Ono who warbled with the new pop sensation in the latest incarnation of the Plastic Ono Band. So what’s behind this fast-burning liftoff into the stratosphere of pop?
British music journalist Paul Lester, who has authored nine previous rock biographies, offers what is essentially the Lady Gaga primer; that is, as complete a chronicle of Lady Gaga’s background and development as research will allow. Synthesizing material from numerous previously published interviews and reviews, Lester sketches the childhood of a precocious singer, dancer, then songwriter and performer endowed with looks, talent, will, and a quirky eye for fashion. Then he addresses the questions heard most frequently about Gaga: how much of her success is due to her artistic ambitions and how much is shaped by those in her orbit, especially record producer Rob Fusari who pushed her into the electronic-dance genre that her voice fits so perfectly? Is the gender-bending persona contrived for public consumption or drawn from her less than private life?
Quoting interviews from a variety of
sources, Lester successfully allows Lady Gaga to speak for herself,
and the resulting portrait is of a woman driven, intelligent, and
world-wise beyond her years. Lady Gaga, fascinated by the rock heroes
of the ‘70s Glitter school, knew image meant everything, and no one
has quite pushed the envelope of capturing the eye quite as well as
Lady Gaga and her team of designers, the “House of Gaga.” Evaluating
the merits of her music is another story, and Lester mainly provides
a balanced overview of critical responses to her work which tend to
praise the production and execution of the videos and songs, but she
gets few marks for originality or innovation. Lester’s own critical
commentary is muted, largely statements that Gaga’s own views on
her work tend to claim more than is delivered.
There won’t be much new here for devotees of the Queen of Pop, and Lester is clearly an observant journalist and not a zealous worshipper of his subject. But fans will be delighted with the three photo sections and the tight overview of their idol’s rise to fame. This book will be most valuable for readers who know about Lady Gaga, have heard her music, but haven’t spent much time looking into just how one young lady pulled so many elements together to become the only real superstar of modern times. This short book, in fact, serves as a useful introduction for those who really should look beneath the surface of a sexy enigma who’s likely to be inspiring even more critical inquiry for a long time to come. Whether it will be a bad romance or not remains to be seen.