Monday, 1 March 2010

Gone Gaga

Back in the arse-end of the 20th century my best friend used to bring me along whenever she had to go home to see her family. Initially this was done to deflect attention away from her, especially if she'd done something she might get into trouble for like getting her nose pierced or losing too much weight ('You must be on drugs. Are you on drugs?') However I came to enjoy our little domestic visits and often went along voluntarily for fun and the free sandwiches.

A favourite pastime during such afternoons was discussing celebrities of the day with her Nanna, Frieda. This would involve us naming someone we considered famous and asking her if she knew who they were. Frieda would then give us a brief but often accurate snapshot of the person using information she had distilled from tabloid newspapers and episodes of Richard and Judy. For example Oasis might be reduced to "them Gallagher brothers. Daft. Married to Patsy Kensit. Horrible." Similarly the Prodigy would be simply "him with the stupid hair. Firestarters. Rubbish."

I mention dear Frieda because I realised last weekend that my comeuppance had arrived a few decades early in the form of ubiquitous media pop wunderkind Lady Gaga. Now, I have long given up the idea of even trying to locate the pulse of popular culture, never mind keep my finger on it, but I must admit that even I was surprised to discover that despite her appearance in just about every magazine and newspaper on the planet for the past 18 months, winning several Brit Awards and performing on Saturday Night Live, I know nothing about her at all.

Where once I could have reeled off the names of every Spice Girl and All Saint, the birthdays of Debbie Gibson and Kylie Minogue and every Christmas Number 1 from 1984 onwards, I find myself in the strange position of having never knowingly heard a song by Lady Gaga, never mind knowing her real name or birthday. I can name precisely none of her hits, boyfriends or infamous deeds and, as proof, I will put myself in Frieda's comfortable walking shoes and provide you with sum of what has managed to seep into my head despite my Gaga-vacuum.

  • she's a pop star
  • she's American (possibly from New York)
  • she's blonde (at least, on the outside)
  • she's probably not a hermaphrodite even though some people said she was
  • she likes a costume, especially one involving masks or hair
  • she's "the new Madonna" (c) TM

I understand the argument that perhaps this is all I need to know. However, as someone who prides themselves on pointless retention of pop trivia minutiae I feel like I'm underperforming. I've won too many pints of Guinness, promotional baseball caps and 2 litre bottles of awful red wine at pub quizzes for knowing my Girls Alouds from my Sugababes and my N-Syncs from my Backstreet Boys. Moreover I feel too young to give it up now; especially with the spritely Frieda as my role model tabloid sponge.

So it's back to the reference books and hallowed tomes for me. Despite myself, I have to go Gaga gaga...

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