A Quick Guide to Lady Gaga's (Possible) Plagiarisms, From 'Telephone' to 'Born This Way'

Categories: Mischief
lady-gaga-born-this-way-single-cover.jpg
As a member of the media, it's my job to accuse Stefani Germanotta of things so she can respond to them. (Born which way? She doesn't have to specify because it's a hot topic -- and the length of Gaga's beloved fame largely depends on juggling those.) So it shouldn't shake this proud piece of plastic if I point out which influences are starting to eat away at the raw-meat sleeves she wears them on. Here, an exploration:

Song: "Telephone" (2009)
What She Stole: The "Pussy Wagon" from Kill Bill
Offense Level: 4/10
Ripoff or Homage?: Homage, easy. Maybe Gaga had a friend in the prop department that snagged the psychedelic yellow relic, but Tarantino's a key parallel to the pop star's unique brand of thievery. Just like B-movie-crazy QT, Gaga is a synthesizer who steals from pop culture like her own personal prop room, and brands it a celebration no matter how trivial or chintzy the detail she filched. Likewise, her videos are interiors she decorates from the hippest catalogs. And like Tarantino, her savvy taste in pilfered material has made her immensely popular.

Song: "Alejandro" (2009)
What She Stole: Synth-reggae from Ace of Base, plus religious imagery from Madonna's "Like a Prayer"
Offense Level: 6/10
Ripoff or Homage?: Homage, with cocked eyebrow. The juxtaposed lagging riddim with glacial Europop vocals is Weird Al-quality mastery of Ace of Base's old hits, particularly "Don't Turn Around." Meanwhile, the accompanying video echoes "Like a Prayer" down to the racial makeup of her choreographed co-stars and stark church backdrop -- even the Catholic League huffed over it. She throws in a little of "Justify My Love"'s S&M too. The song and video are as good as any of Gaga's hits, but she knew full well she intended both as memory exercises.

Song: "So Happy I Could Die" (2009)
What She Stole: The wholesale melody from Natasha Bedingfield's "Pocketful of Sunshine"
Offense Level: 9/10
Ripoff or Homage?: Ripoff. Bedingfield's a peer and small-time competitor who Germanotta could've written songs for herself. And this is pretty self-explanatory.

Song: "Born This Way" (2011)
What She Stole: Everything down to the artwork
Offense Level: 10/10
Ripoff or Homage?: Ripoff, big time. Even Jay Leno couldn't refrain from quizzing her on the similarities between Madonna's "Express Yourself" and Gaga's otherwise faster, digitized update. Besides sharing the same key, chorus, and inspirational-dance-track inspiration, both tunes even feature classic ad-libbed intros. Then there's the even weirder matter of the single's cover photo, cribbed from Kylie Minogue's "2 Hearts" artwork down to the dripping-paint typeface. Ironically, the highly derivative tune is one of Gaga's best singles so far: the "Don't be a drag/ Just be a queen" rap is her first clever moment devoid of arch Warhol-isms, and the singing's her most soulful and least robotic yet, a neat match for the hyper-techno backing. The moral? Um...keep on copycatting?

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6 comments
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Wowoyaya
Wowoyaya

I heard how sweet she treats her mother, when she was in sickness, have to say she is actually a good girl. Not that as weird as her skin deep.

Elen
Elen

I like its songs! Especially Lovegame and certainly Alejandro. In general practically its each song - a hit! And probably there is no person who wouldn't hear though its one song. By the way, to download its albums it is possible on http://www.usemeplz.com

dancefloor
dancefloor

re: "Born This Way" CD artworkCheck out Madonna's "Ray of Light" CD cover - the pose, the fly away hair styling.

To whatever degree Gaga's work carbon-copies Madonna's, it only reminds us how enduring M's musical legacy is.

Nicki Escudero
Nicki Escudero

Lady Gaga loves Madonna and is just exposing her to kids who might never have listened to her, right?

hobnob
hobnob

I think her latest songs are increasingly worse.

Just dance and poker face were original and I'd have to say the most popular. I even liked Papparazi. However, Bad romance was a hollow shell of just good techno beats and whatever she wanted to sing out of her mouth. Telephone was worse - not sure if it was popular b/c of the added benefits of Beyonce. Alejandro - all she sang was Alejandro about 100 times.

I couldn't get past the first part of the song for Born this Way, it was awful.

But if anything about her popularity, is that she's just rehashing what was originally a hit to a newer generation that may not know that it was copied from things of the past that were previous hits.

Unfortunately, the people that are losing are the other singers that come up with original and better songs who wholeheartedly deserve more praise and fame for their better work.

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