Lady Gaga is no Madonna

By Mark Judgeauthor Lady Gaga is no Madonna. That some conservatives are conflating the two performers is yet another sign … Continued

By Mark Judge
author

Lady Gaga is no Madonna. That some conservatives are conflating the two performers is yet another sign of the pop culture (and even religious) illiteracy of the right. I myself am a conservative, and it always demoralizes me when people on the right fumble the ball on popular culture, particularly in the field of pop music.

Robert Bork once referred to the industrial gloom freaks Nine Inch Nails as rap. Reagan-era Interior Secretary James Watt attempted to postpone the Beach Boys Fourth of July concert, thinking that the somnolent surfers would cause trouble. And, despite how much I’ve begged and pleaded, the Weekly Standard and National Review will not cover pop music, which I consider a beautiful form of spiritual art.

Now, taking a lead from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, everyone is comparing Gaga to Madonna. To me Madonna will always be a mediocre talent, but one of her better songs is “Like a Prayer,” which came out in 1986. Many conservative culture warriors wrongly considered the video for “Like a Prayer” blasphemous, and are now juxtaposing it with a new video by pop star Lady Gaga. In the video for her song “Alejandro,” Gaga is dressed in a red latex nun costume. She swallows a rosary, and is depicted in scenes of sadomasochistic sex and Nazi marching troops. As night follows day, conservatives went nuts. Donohue called Lady Gaga a “Madonna wannabe.” The rest of the right wing photosphere fell into place.

They will miss a crucial fact: Madonna’s video for “Like a Prayer” is an intelligent and even devout meditation on grace, love and conscience. Lady Gaga’s is lazy trash.

(Read Mathew N. Schmalz’s response to this column: ‘In Defense of Lady Gaga.’)

As I will explore in my forthcoming book “A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Madonna’s video is actually a powerful depiction of the vitality of the Catholic saints and their ability to intercede in our lives and give us gifts of courage. In the video, Madonna witnesses a black man falsely accused of a crime. Terrified of the racists in the town, she flees into a church, where she prays to St. Martin de Porres, a black saint. She falls asleep and in her dream the statue of the saint actually comes to life, becoming her lover. She wakes up filled with a new bravery. She fingers the real criminals, and ends the video jubilantly dancing with a gospel choir.

(Learn more about Catholic beliefs about saints at Patheos.com)

When “Like a Prayer” was released, it was completely misunderstood by conservatives. A bishop condemned it. So did Donohue. On the other side, liberals mindlessly defended Madonna without understanding the message of the video. The only truly coherent analysis came from Fr. Andrew Greeley, a liberal Catholic priest. “Like a Prayer” was blasphemous, wrote Greeley in America magazine, “only for the prurient and the sick who come to the video determined to read their own twisted sexual hang-ups into it. Only for those who think that sexual passion is an inappropriate metaphor for divine passion (and thus are pretty hard on Hosea, Jesus, Saint Paul, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Teresa of Avila).”

Lada Gaga’s video for “Alejandro” is not just slightly dissimilar to “Like a Prayer” – it’s like a fascistic antipode. There is no moral story, no call to conscience. The very language of the bodies is different. In “Like a Prayer,” Madonna and the gospel choir dance with freedom and individual joy. They are powered with the power of the Holy Spirit, which gave Madonna grace the courage to fully respond the call from her conscience. In “Alejandro” the dancing is militaristic, joyless. The scenes of sadomasochism are cold and dehumanizing; they reek of fascism. The entire thing is cold.

We’ve gotten to a point in our culture where we expect the “avant-garde” left to embrace absolutely anything that gives them the delicious frisson of transgression — no matter how tired and, well, conservative their tropes have become. Pop singer Katy Perry was right when she said “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.”

But I want better from my conservative friends. I became a conservative because of the ideas of the movement. Irving Kristol, Thomas Sowell, and Midge Decter are people who rely on facts, common sense, and age-old wisdom about the nature of the human person to come to conclusions about politics. But they are like the worst knee-jerk lefty when it comes to pop culture. I fear most of them have not listened to a record since Pat Boone was a star.

Mark Judge, grandson of former baseball Senator Joe Judge, is author of “Damn Senators: My Grandfather and the Story of Washington’s Only world Series Championship” and “God and Man at Georgetown Prep.”

About

  • don8

    Gaga’s director denies sacreligious intent:”The religious symbolism is not meant to denote anything negative, but represents the character’s battle between the dark forces of this world and the spiritual salvation of the Soul. “Thus at the end of the film, she chooses to be a nun, and the reason her mouth and eyes disappear is because she is withdrawing her senses from the world of evil and going inward towards prayer and contemplation.”Neither of the videos is particularly sacreligious. Obviously Gaga’s video is deliberately cold and joyless: if you think that’s accidental, you miss the entire point. It isn’t because it’s “avant garde” (Gaga isn’t very original), but because that is the message she is trying to convey.Gaga is miles ahead of Madonna as a writer and performer. I would think even a conservative would understand that.

  • Bluzulu

    WRONG!!! Like a Prayer came out in 1989. Like a Virgin 1984. Get your facts straight. I love the way you commend Madonna and then insult her in the same breath. Madonna, a mediocre talent? LMFAO! Are you kidding me? I don’t see many “mediocre” talents lasting 30 years in the music biz. Especially women. Madonna can out sing and out dance Mick Jagger any day. And she outlasted Michael Jackson, Prince, George Michael, Olivia Newton John, Cyndi Lauper and a whole other slew of performers who also used sex to sell their music. So don’t tell me it’s all about sex with Madonna and controversy,which most conservatives usually do. Madonna is A LOT more talented as a musician, songwriter and performer than people give her credit for. And this includes you. An artist’s merit is the body of their work. And what a body of work Madonna has…not to mention what a body. There are not many 51 year old women who have spanned three decades and who are grossing 480 million dollars in concert sales to this day. Not bad for a “mediocre” talent.

  • Bluzulu

    WRONG!!! Like a Prayer came out in 1989. Like a Virgin 1984. Get your facts straight. I love the way you commend Madonna and then insult her in the same breath. Madonna, a mediocre talent? LMFAO! Are you kidding me? I don’t see many “mediocre” talents lasting 30 years in the music biz. Especially women. Madonna can out sing and out dance Mick Jagger any day. And she outlasted Michael Jackson, Prince, George Michael, Olivia Newton John, Cyndi Lauper and a whole other slew of performers who also used sex to sell their music. So don’t tell me it’s all about sex with Madonna and controversy,which most conservatives usually do. Madonna is A LOT more talented as a musician, songwriter and performer than people give her credit for. And this includes you. An artist’s merit is the body of their work. And what a body of work Madonna has…not to mention what a body. There are not many 51 year old women who have spanned three decades and who are grossing 480 million dollars in concert sales to this day. Not bad for a “mediocre” talent.

  • aarondarc

    Thank… heavens (?) for the wave against this ridiculous comparison between Gaga and Madonna, and what a unique perspective for WP to publish. Gaga is a sign of the times, only in so far as she is so vapid and meaningless, completely incomparable to the cultural resonance and artistry of Madonna, an artistry that, as pointed out here, actually had a point. I feel sorry for this generation if Gaga is the “boundary pusher” of today, because she’s pushing very very little.

  • hakafos44

    I love the Alejandro song but the video is absurd, and the song sounds a lot like Madonna’s La Isla Bonita in some places.

  • magealchemist

    I completely agree with DON8. Gaga’s video is just as well thought-out and executed as Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.” If anything Madonna should be thanking Gaga for doing her justice and making those beautiful references. Because just like you conservatives did with Madonna, you are completely disregarding the message(s) in Gaga’s video for Alejandro, the whole issue with DADT Policy (hence the whole homoerotic military theme), and how every religion is against some type of person or group of persons, be it gays or other subcultures. You are again just bashing and disrespecting her work as an artist. And just to point out and clarify the ignorance showcased by BLUZULU Madonna did not outlast Michael Jackson (RIP), please she didn’t stand a chance against him, she was lucky he even named her as a worthy contemporary. And as of today Gaga has out sang and outdone Madonna musically. Gaga is the antithesis of Madonna musically, because where as Madonna’s first two singles didn’t even grace the Billboard’s Hot 100, both of Gaga’s first two singles went number one worldwide and on the Billboard’s Hot 100 and are two of the bestselling singles of all time. I understand that you are defending Madonna but don’t discredit Gaga as someone both worthy and able to compete with the likes of Madonna.

  • klf4

    Speaking for myself and my conservative friends we all love Lady Gaga (also don’t hate Pat Boone). She is a real talent. Madonna had a few good songs but largely ripped off LA bands like Concrete Blonde and other more legitimate talents. That girl could market some though. Lady Ga Ga same.So THERE is your comparison, not style kids.

  • haveaheart

    “Irving Kristol, Thomas Sowell, and Midge Decter are people who rely on facts, common sense, and age-old wisdom about the nature of the human person to come to conclusions about politics. But they are like the worst knee-jerk lefty when it comes to pop culture. I fear most of them have not listened to a record since Pat Boone was a star.” Irving Kristol died in 2009 at age 89.Mark, I doubt very much that Kristol has listened to anything in the past year. And certainly anything he did listen to during your lifetime is not likely to have been what you would call “pop culture.”Decter and Sowell, while still apparently alive, are also not likely to be, or have been, disciples of American pop music.These people are too old — and were too old 50 years ago — to care about getting references to pop culture right…or even making references to pop culture.As for conservatives who might be more your contemporaries, it’s still pretty naive to expect that people who are morally hard-wired to disapprove (at least publicly) of sex and drugs are going to embrace the “rock’n'roll” part of the trinity.If you’re going to be a conservative, you need to understand this. Otherwise, you might want to give the other side a trial run.

  • biograph19851

    Years ago a conservative Christian friend of mine summed it up when she said she liked Simon & Garfunkel until they got “weird” in their later years. I assume she was distinguishing between their 1965-1967 output and their 1968-1970 output. The idea that “Fakin’ It” or “Keep the Customer Satisfied” might be too “druggy” for a youth in the mid-1990s illustrates the cultural gap between conservatives and the pop world. Go back to Pat Boone, friends.

  • acdef

    WOWWW. No one understands this video. Lady GaGa is trying to be vapid. She’s a “Fame Monster”. She represents the emptiness of fame. She’s blatantly ripping off Madonna. In my opinion, there isn’t a comparison either…GaGa wins. Madonna’s music was inspirational and clever…GaGa’s is artistic, it’s a comment on the emptiness of fame, and she can SING. As for Alejandro, it’s about homosexual liberation. She’s fighting for the, there. She’s in a nun’s outfit and eats the cross because she’s lost faith in God. She views the church as hypocritical, her only choice is to fight. The only attack she’s doing on the church here is against homosexual prejudice. It’s not lazy. It’s activism.

  • senbilboredux

    As a devout Republican and Christian, I say this is all the Devil’s music and anyone who is not nauseated by its vile, animalistic sound and pornographic imagery is doomed to eternal damnation. Repent ye sinners; but it may be too late for the likes of you.

  • thrh

    It’s kind of like a competition between Jerry Lewis and the Three Stooges: who is stupider?

  • Martial

    Not only is what is writ above on behalf of Lady Gaga true, consider this: no one ever thought Madonna was a transsexual.

  • Martial

    Most important. We do not know and, heaven being merciful, will never know, one billionth the details of Lady Gaga’s sex life that we know about Madonna’s “romantic” interests.

  • theaz

    Lady GaGa has replaced any memories of Madonna, Lady GaGa’s songs and music are far better and deliver for Dance scene at the club!!!

  • eaglehawkaroundsince1937

    Madonna needs a spanking, Gaga needs a pimp.

  • postfan1

    Sorry. Not convinced.Looks like to me that Gaga is absolutely using the same formula that Madonna used. Pop star meets shock video.20 years later, it takes a lot more shock to even get noticed. S&M is par for that course.20 years from now, what will a shock artist need to do? We’ve all become comfortably numb.

  • shel_zahav

    It is pitiful that anybody would write such an article.

  • LevRaphael

    Dear Mark Judge:You’ve totally missed the artistic point. In the same way that Madonna’s videos quoted visually from people like famed photographer Horst P. Horst, Lady Gaga’s new video is full of quotes from Madonna videos like “Vogue” and “Respect Yourself,” and even from her “Evita.” It’s an homage, a ripoff, and a bow: very 21st century, very clever. I think you need to go back to the screening room and study your subjects a bit more. There’s no excuse for missing moves from “Vogue.”

  • wireman65

    “Madonna’s video is actually a powerful depiction of the vitality of the Catholic saints and their ability to intercede in our lives and give us gifts of courage.”Possibly the stupidest sentence I’ve read in this blog. No rational person could possibly believe this BS.

  • GaryD3

    Re seeing the potential of Pop Music as art: Mr. Judge, if I remember correctly, in your book “God and Man etc” you trashed a former music teacher for trying to do just that. So, why now? Why the “conversion”? A new shtick to shill your new book?Uber-conservative writers occasionally are criticized as self-righteous hypocrites. You added fuel to the fire.”The only truly coherent analysis came from Fr. Andrew Greeley, a liberal Catholic priest.” Not everyone would agree. What authority do you have to speak for everyone?

  • elilhraira

    Oh dear. It is kind of sad when a Gen Xer starts to sound like a Baby Boomer.

  • seter16

    Who cares???? It’s fun…Gaga is fun!! Stop trying to read a religious message in everything..this is one of the issues with people like you…you can’t just let people be!!!

  • Karmicquickdraw

    This is just plain old hysterical. That a republican moralist would be taking Madonna’s side. That’s a rich one. It’s sort of like when they used to condemn the long haired hippies. Then, after everyone else had gone short, the ‘tard conservative hillbilly types thought it was real cool to grow their greasy hair. That long hair hides a red neck.

  • yellojkt

    How did you miss the easy Madonna/Wh0re call-out?I love it when people get cranky over the music ‘the kidz’ are listening to. Tell them to get off your lawn while you’re at it.

  • dem4life1

    Anything that gets you right wing christian wing nuts worked up is fine with me. Keep foaming at the mouth spewing your BS while the rest of us enjoy the show.

  • uh_huhh

    I cannot imagine having to endure an entire book of your conservative drivel.

  • penance091

    I remember when “Papa Don’t Preach” was released to a storm of controversy. Even as a kid, I never understood why my teachers in the Catholic school I attended were so vehemently against it. The song is about NOT having an abortion…The same thing with “Like A Prayer”. People read WAAAYYY too much into things sometimes.

  • Samson151

    Yep, the comments have it right: Gaga and Madonna sound alike, appeal to about the same demographic, have stage shows that closely resemble one another, and are comparably outrageous in their dress. Gaga is the far better singer and musician, for what that’s worth — neither is exactly Elton John and Bernie Taupin.Of course, that’s not what the writer meant. He’s reading his own interpretation into a Madonna tune. That’s a time-honored tradition. No merit to it, but that never stopped anyone.

  • Samson151

    “I became a conservative because of the ideas of the movement. Irving Kristol, Thomas Sowell, and Midge Decter are people who rely on facts, common sense, and age-old wisdom about the nature of the human person to come to conclusions about politics. But they are like the worst knee-jerk lefty when it comes to pop culture. I fear most of them have not listened to a record since Pat Boone was a star.”I do want to add one thing: based on this article, I suspect Mark Judge became a conservative because he’s a stodgy coot in a young man’s body.

  • grantmh

    This was nothing more than an attempt by the author to convince people he can translate what the “kids” are saying to his perceived audience, and shoe horn in an advertisement for his new book.Cultural taste is personal, subjective, and fleeting. Anyone who gets upset about a little bit of fun, whether it’s artistic and tasteful or tasteless crap, might be a bit misguided. If someone thinks what other people do for fun impacts their personal spirituality, they might be better served by turning their attention towards their own lack of conviction in the things they claim they hold dear.

  • Acierto

    “Like a Prayer” is a great, even brilliant, art – But I think you’ve missed one reason why: its subterfuge. While the Madonna video tells one story, the lyrics can tell another. Bluntly put: It’s about the mutual ecstasy of giving a loved one a b*job. It equates the ecstasies of love and religion.”When you call my name, it’s like a little

  • despainme

    I think Madonna’s video “Like a Prayer,” sexuality (mild in today’s standards) aside, does have some carefully thought out message. Lady GaGa’s video is mostly overt sexuality mixed with religious and political icons and symbols. Lady GaGa is pushing the envelope in all the predictable ways. Sex sells – the oldest trick in the book. Pathetic.

  • cococo

    Is everything a contest?

  • AnonymousEric

    Well….I’ll confess to not having seen too much redeeming value in Madonna’s video at the time, although I didn’t go nuts over it like a lot of other conservatives. I still think it’s suspect, since the protagonist only finds her moral courage after indulging passions of the flesh. Dostoevsky it ain’t.Conservatives can get pretty silly responding to specific instances of pop culture. Heck, didn’t the GOP make Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” its theme song at the ’84 convention? Had anyone actually listened to the lyrics? That said, how does one respond to a continual assault on the norms and values needed to socialize members of society and maintain enough orderliness for it to function? The left’s cultural view, as liberating as it can be, ultimately results in nihilism and isolation in an atavistic social mass that values narcisissm above anything else. There’s got to be something better than that.

  • interactidiomas

    Golly, jeepers, Mr. Wilson! If the music irks you, then it’s just icing on the cake.This Charleston-thing is decadent!Cut-out that Razz-a-ma-tazzSwing is irresponsible exhibitionism without any grace, beauty or poise.Jazz is negra-music from the jungle inspired by Satan.What’s wrong with these beatniks listeing to this bee-bop!These leather jacketed hoodlums and their Rock and Roll.The Beatles?! They look like a bunch of girls and all they do is scream and shout- they’re just a flash in the pan.What’s the world coming to?! Have you seen this Alice cooper and the thing with the snakes.Disco? What happened to music that means something, instead of just bouncing to a bass-beat in polyester suits?Punks- I just don’t get it with safety-pins and green hair- what’s that all about?Rap is criinal music by ghetto gangs with filthy lyrics that demean women.Lady Gaga- what’s wrong with kids today?nothing.

  • readerny

    First of all, the neocons are not concerned with facts at all, but retrofitting the “facts” into their point of view on every subject. Second, this is a boring piece of music criticism. Anytime you mention Bill Donahue and Irving Kristol, along with Madonna or Lady Gaga, what else do you expect? Stop trying to politicize music for Pete’s sake.

  • shewholives

    Hey Mark Judge, very typical of the sanctimonious. The more you demonize it the more apparent to the rest of us that you got off on it.

  • miknugget

    Pop music, religion, and conservatives all stink. What a lousy combination. Some people here apparently don’t understand that Lady Gaga isn’t a musician. She’s just a singer, like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, all country artists, and many other hacks. They just sing along to other people’s music.

  • Skowronek

    Someone mentioned Cyndi Lauper–she was fun to listen to and has a great deal of musical talent to offer. In her heyday (I don’t know how well her voice has aged) she had a wide singing range (four octaves) and perfect pitch. That’s a gift.Pat Benatar is another real musician who can truly sing–she got accepted to Juilliard and was a classically trained musician who genuinely enjoyed singing popular/rock music.Back to your originally scheduled argument.

  • caa301

    When will they ever learn?

  • thomasxstewart1

    Big Step With Roberts Work With MJ, Madonna & Lady GAGA Is DANCE. With Video & Live Entertainment, brings in Song, Acrobatics & Creative Lyrics. Medium of TV to Express GLORIOUS message.Lady GaGa is Female, while Madonna Has Story To Tell. Both are from Swas Countries, Ireland for Madonna & Germany for Lady GaGa. Michael, Home Grown, took First step into Dance As Video Song, With That Narrow Group.No Long Line of Boobs Standing with Mic, Crooning Unique Chords,In Front of Camera. Todays Fushari productions are Rebelious like Kazu, Refreshing Like Reminder of Power of Youth & Instant HIT. AMY Is OLD. Meaning just Juvinile Hall Problem, GAGA Is ARTS, maybe NOT High as Madonna, yet Well Above Norm.Wish WelL For CREW.Signed:PHYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART von DRASHEK M.D.

  • Geepers1

    Lady GaGa is no Madonna, just a wannabee.I’m a moderate conservative and a former Catholic, and wasn’t offended by Madonna but at least back then, that was cutting edge stuff. She was controversial, she made people talk. She pushed the envelope.Now with GaGa it just feels recycled. I’m not bothered but Lady Gaga feels more like Lady BlahBlah to me. Too many years of too many images to register anymore.Perhaps that’s a bigger ‘sin’ than being ‘blasphemous’…being boring? How many different weird costumes or sexual posturing eventually add up to nothing?Rock on to those who enjoy it, for me it’s just meh.

  • LilyBell

    It’s simple for me: I don’t expect pop music to be intelligent. It’s fluff, not to be taken seriously.

  • layla2

    Lady GagMe may not be a pathetic, talentless toad, but you wouldn’t know it from her videos.

  • theaz

    Lady GaGa’s following songs far exceed any Madonna songs ever recorded:Poker FaceSo, in GaGa’s short career she has already trumped Madonna!

  • Andrea_KC

    Of course conservatives hate and vilify Lady Gaga. She’s visible and she doesn’t toe the Fox News line. What more excuse do they need?And if conservatives didn’t have someone to hate and vilify, they would probably cease to exist.

  • jjedif

    Can we move on to more important topics, like who’s a better parent, Britney Spears or Kevin Federline? Or who’s more intellectually gifted, Paris Hilton or Sarah Palin. Actually, forget that second comment. Paris kicks Palin’s buttocks when it comes to intellect.

  • Hurleybird

    I agree that reaction to the Like a Prayer video was ignorant and…reactionary. I haven’t seen new Lady Gaga video yet, but I was struck by what she said in her recent Larry King interview: that she was raised Catholic, still seems to be, prays regularly, loves Jesus, etc. Madonna seems to have much more of a knee-jerk omg- religion-is-so-uncool hang-up than Lady Gaga does, so even if Lady Gaga is critical of the Church’s sometimes intolerant attitudes, I would caution against assuming this video means she is a knee-jerk opponent of the Church, or using cheap shots to offend just for the sake of shock value. You might be missing a deeper message.

  • cbk1

    Can we move on to more important topics, like who’s a better parent, Britney Spears or Kevin Federline? Or who’s more intellectually gifted, Paris Hilton or Sarah Palin. Actually, forget that second comment. Paris kicks Palin’s buttocks when it comes to intellect.

  • philosopherkingtomas

    Gaga is great and Madonna was great!

  • theaz

    Of course conservatives hate and vilify Lady Gaga. She’s visible and she doesn’t toe the Fox News line. What more excuse do they need?And if conservatives didn’t have someone to hate and vilify, they would probably cease to exist.===========================I’m CONSERVATIVE, and I love Lady GaGa music, but like many artist they are very weird narcissistic people, which is repulsive in it own!I just use them for their music!

  • JamesK1

    @Levraphael: You’re thinking of Christina Aguilera’s “Not Myself Tonight”, which deliberately repeated memorable visuals from Madonna’s “Express Yourself” (not “Respect Yourself”), “Vogue” and “Human Nature” videos as well as the film “Evita”.A more compelling comparison than Gaga v. Madonna could be Gaga v. Aguilera.Gaga does in fact write her own music (and did write music for other artists during her early years at Interscope), and her versatility is amazing. Compare the techno stuff to “Speechless” or the acoustic version of “Poker Face”.As a lifelong fan of Madonna, what I love about Gaga is her ability to combine geniune musicality (which Madonna lacks and Aguilera has) and a razor-sharp instinct on how to work the pop music industry (which Madonna has and Aguilera lacks).As a lifelong Protestant, I love the “Like a Prayer” video (and certainly take a far different view on sainthood than Mark). “Alejandro” was never my favorite Gaga song, nor is the video. “Bad Romance”, however, is brilliant. I also recommend “Paparazzi” and “Telephone” for the skewering of the vacuity of pop culture that is Gaga’s recurring theme. And yes, “Poker Face” is just fun.

  • Athena4

    Heh. Back in the 80′s, we used to joke about “McDonna – over one million served.” Now I think it’s “over one million married.” The few times that I’ve seen Gaga, I’ve liked her stuff. I’m just surprised that pop stars still attempt to do “artistic” videos anymore. I mean, it was great back when MTV used to actually show music videos. But now, it’s mostly just concert footage. (Although I do confess to not listening much pop music. Autotune has ruined things.)

  • arcadiola

    Like a Prayer came out in 1989, not 1986.

  • mtravali

    Who in hell is Mark Judge to judge anything. Crawl back in your hole.

  • LevRaphael

    @JamesK1: No, I’m not thinking of Aguilera. I never think of her, have never watched any of ehr videos or listened to her music.I’m thinking of Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” video which quotes again and again from Madonna’s oeuvre, and there are bits of the song that do that, too.

  • smallest

    “Palin kicks our current president when it comes to experience.”former half-term governor and talk show host vs. President.yeah. she “kicks” him. idiot.

  • jhtlag1

    I’m a “conservative” and I like Gaga too.If there’s a problem with Alejandro, it is, as the previous poster pointed out “cold and joyless.” that may be intentional and they may argue the merits of that, but a lot of my enjoyment of Gaga is the implicit humor in most of the videos: cigarette or razor blade glasses, beer cans as hair rollers, breaking out in the twist, being a ditz who loses her cellphone on a night out in the town, just amusing stuff. This might be Gaga’s downfall if she start’s taking herself too seriously. Otherwise, it’s fun watching someone when they’re on a roll. It will end soon enough.

  • tyree230

    This is an ongoing joke. I don’t understand people who need to assign meaning to the music of or to Lady Gaga & Madonna as “artists”. They are pop stars pure & simple, each performing their generation’s version of disco. Its all harmless dance music. The author is being silly to talk about Madonna’s “meditation” on anything. Her brilliance has always been on the business side keeping herself in the limelight. She does this by reinventing her look and releasing a song or video specifically designed to shock the public to keep her name in the press. Lady Gaga is simply following in her footsteps They are not artists, this is the great joke played on everyone who buys into such nonsense. Don’t feel guilty about liking their songs and cover up by attempting to elevate their music to artistry. You should enjoy it for what it is, prefabricated disco dance music fluff.

  • Wildthing1

    Yes, but we are in a time of war and war is sadomasochistic… and a result of sexual repression of which the church is an expert.. and the repression gives rise to other problems in addition to sadomasochistic wars..

  • amm72

    I really don’t understand why Gaga is “mediocre” because she’s not exactly like Madonna. Being exactly like Madonna would be cloning.I was a big Madonna fan as a youth, and now I love Gaga. When did these things become mutually exclusive? And why is Gaga using her talent something to deride and mock, when Madonna’s shocking and brilliant antics heralded a new era in music?It’s not 1989 any more. Get over yourself.

  • CAC2

    I’m a liberal, and I listen to Mozart.

  • JenAZ

    Only when the woman is overtly sexual like Madonna or GaGa does anyone squander column space on their “artistry”. Neither of these performers are artists; they are gifted entertainers. Visual sophistry is a great medium for entertainers like Madonna and GaGa; but please don’t confuse it with artistry, it’s just not the same. An artist would be a woman like Patti Smith… Her intellectual gift as a writer makes her work lyrical poetry – that’s artistic.

  • jmsmaxwell

    The only thing these two females have in common is thier trashie action and qustionable tallent. Madana mader her claim to fame dressing and acting like a low class streewalker. Gaga, who is no lady, doesn’t not appear to have quite as much tallent if you could call it that. They prey to the lowest common demoninator in the entertainment system. If you have no tallent but are willing to perform nekid infront of minors you can acheive fame from the adolescent males just starting puberty. The entire entertainment system is gravely flawed in that they have no respect for themselves or others. The soonere forgotten the better.

  • bigbrother1

    Christ, how farking stupid can you get.Let’s translate from Mark Judgese into English, shall we?”Lady Gaga is shallow pop, but it’s new and I’m old. So I don’t like it. Madonna is shallow pop which was made while I was getting trashed all the time in college. So it’s really deep and meaningful.”Good thing for Judge he doesn’t have to think for a living.

  • emcglaughlin

    This article is complete rubbish.

  • trident420

    “‘Like a Prayer’ is an intelligent and even devout meditation on grace, love and conscience. “Um, sure, as it relates to performing fellatio. Most female pop artists sell themselves with sex appeal, which invariably leads to religious convulsions. Madonna was no exception. For you, as long as the message remains veiled… it remains wholesome. You enjoy the metaphor for its deliberate deception, not its original intent. Ignorance is bliss indeed.

  • AxelDC

    You are entitled to your opinions, but Lady Gaga is one of the most innovative and exciting performers of her generation. I can’t get enough of her songs “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro”. They are pop, catchy and fun. I’m glad you found deep spiritual meaning in Madonna. I like her music and admire her longevity, but I already like Lady Gaga more than I ever liked Madonna.I’m sorry if her art offends your sensibilities, but even Mozart was considered offensive in his day.

  • greg3

    Yeah, well, you forgot to point out that Lady Gaga is an accomplished pianist who writes her own music, invents her own clothing, and scripts her own absurd videos. She is sui generi so give her some credit.Madonna is essentially an overproduced karaoke performer with big (but now sagging) boobs. Her anti-Catholic schlock was deliberately contrived to appeal to rebellious Catholic teen girls everywhere. Her contribution to pop culture amounts to multicolored belly button lint.

  • PatientlyWaiting

    I enjoy both Madonna and Gaga for what they are. Really, I’m a fan, but I think you are giving Madonna a bit too much credit here. The story of “Like a Prayer” is certainly entertaining, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking. Also, the idea that she did not use taboo ideas as a simple method of shock entertainment is a bit much. See, e.g., “Like a Virgin,” “Erotica.” It was a big part of her persona, so the idea that she was somehow a better artist because she didn’t disrespect the Catholic church seems like a bit much. I would agree that these two videos should not be compared for their references to the church. If anything, this video seems more an homage to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” than to anything close to “Like A Prayer.” I think that these two women will forever be compared because they continuously release videos that aim to shock. Of course, we will compare them in our minds as result, but I do not see why both videos cannot coexist apart from each other.

  • schmuckatelli

    It’s kind of pathetic to look to the popular culture – whether it’s 1980s or 2010s – to give meaning to one’s life. It scarcely matters that it’s Lady Gaga or Madonna, these people aren’t poets – hell, they’re barely musicians! If you want a deeper meaning, stop trolling the shallows…

  • Rehcab1

    These females, madonna and gaga, are not “singers.” They’re quasi dancers/entertainers, who are enhanced by outrageous visual props. Their lyrics are juvenile and mostly unintelligible. The popularity of their kind of “music,” along with hard rock, rap, and hip-hop among other modern genres, reflects in part the decline of Western civilization.

  • bigbrother1

    Looks like Rehcab1 and Schmuckatelli are competing with Judge for a DERP award.Lady Gaga is a skilled pop artist (and this goes for Madonna 20 years ago). She isn’t trying to be a musical genius – though she is very talented. She is trying to make hot, button-pushing pop music. And if you think that’s easy, go out and do it yourself, why don’t you?Pop music is by its nature shallow and of the moment. But that’s not a bad thing. When you’re young it’s everything. There’s good and bad pop, just like there’s good and bad everything. And if you want deeper music, that’s out there too in better and worse forms.What’s stupid about Judge’s piece is that he thinks that one of two basically equivalent pop artists is fundamentally better (i.e. more deeply meaningful) than the other. The lameness of his argument is spectacularly laughable. And all it ends up saying is “I’m old and I don’t get it. Waaah.”What’s stupid about Rehcab1 and Schmuckatelli is that they think that recent pop music destroys “culture.” Such people are best left to yell at clouds.

  • eleanormcconnell

    “Like A Prayer” was released in 1989, not 1986. I appreciate this column.

  • eleanormcconnell

    “Like A Prayer” was released in 1989, not 1986. I appreciate this column.

  • bandmom22

    Have you ever noticed the two clowns at the top of the screen? Sally Quinn, who’s main credential is whom she’s married to and Jon Meachem, failed editor of a failed magazine Newsweek.Is the faith section where old hacks go to molder?

  • mloaks

    anyone who defends Madonna is out of touch; she and the song mean nothing. Gaga just pushes feminism back again, playing the $LuT card…

  • SoupLine

    First off, who’s Pat Boone? Second, I didn’t know Madonna is still alive. How does this unknown clown Mark Judge (probably a pseudonym) get to talk big blah blah when he isn’t even in the industry? Maybe he should check Variety’s music charts where Alejandro is Number 8 on the Landmark Radioplay charts. On the Rhapsody Album charts GaGa’s album ‘The Fame’ is also at Number 8. She’s probably laughing at her critics all the way to the bank baby!

  • zephyr99

    Lady GaGa is a transparent ripoff of Madonna. What else is there to say? If anyone is interested in an original and refreshing female singer/performer, check out Siobhan Magnus on Youtube. Somehow the 20-year-old managed to finish in only 6th place on the most recent season of American Idol (which probably speaks to the inordinate power of teeny boppers with speed dial). Be that as it may, in terms of talent, Siobhan Magnus is a once in a generation singer/performer. I, for one, eagerly await her debut album.

  • gobbledyg

    You see, the problem with linking to the people you’re saying are stupid is that you look stupid when you argue with something they’re not saying. Here’s the quote from the ‘people comparing Lady Gaga to Madonna’: “Hence, she has now become the new poster girl for American decadence and Catholic bashing, sans the looks and talent of her role model. “How you turn that into a rant that people shouldn’t compare the two since Madonna is much more talented and artistic is beyond me.

  • kaylancor

    Madonna’s videos are not holy at all. I can’t imagine where someone would get that idea! Lady Gaga is just another worldly figure, more interested in fame and fortune than trying to do God’s will or even search for it. Her videos are far from virtue. I can see her pro-gay theme, as one reader mentioned. The Church isn’t hypocritical on this issue because the priests involved in abuse are an extreme minority (not to mention most of the abuse cases were homosexual in nature)! The MAJORITY of priests are good and the Sacraments remain untouched by the sins of humans. They will always be sacred no matter what a priest may do to his own body. Just read St. Teresa of Avila (a Doctor of the Church) to learn about that!

  • Once-ler

    Garrr! The pop is not art debate is so naf and elitist! Pop is art, but for the masses – doesn’t mean its not art. It may not be high art and you may not like it, but you could say that about a lot of art in many other art forms. A commonly used and old example in another art form is Andy Warhol’s art. An similar ongoing debate is about tagging. Get over yourselves!

  • revbookburn

    It is to Lady Gaga’s credit that her critics are from the bottom of the barrel, from the Church of Pedophilia to Katy Perry. She’s doing something right. Like A Prayer was also great.

  • blonde19

    Gaga, Britney, Madge, Cher, Ann Margaret, Marilyn, Mae West, Jane (of Trazan and…)

  • Hurleybird

    Ahem:” “Alejandro” director Steven Klein told MTV News via e-mail that the religious symbolism is not meant to denote anything negative. “[It] represents the character’s battle between the dark forces of this world and the spiritual salvation of the Soul,” Klein wrote. “Thus at the end of the film, she chooses to be a nun, and the reason her mouth and eyes disappear is because she is withdrawing her senses from the world of evil and going inward towards prayer and contemplation.” Klein added that the scene in which Gaga ingests the rosary beads is meant to represent “the desire to take in the holy.”"

  • WeAreDoomed

    Astonishing. It never ceases to amaze me that those who call themselves intellectuals simply do not get it. Perhaps it is part of being educated beyond ones native intelligence that a writer deems it necessary to use such verbal puffery as “antipode” to describe the difference between Madonna and Gaga. Or a need to give deeper meaning to things than what is actually there.These people are entertainers–and they do a fine job of it. Fascistic antipode? Please Mr. Judge, take a pill and deflate yourself. The music is carnal and visceral if you are seeking words–intended to reach a part of people that is beyond your lofty high level thought.With a big enough shovel, some of these columnists can certainly move a mighty mountain of manure…

  • paulwesterberg1

    Man never underestimate Madonna! She is always able to reinvent herself. How many different Madonnas have we seen in our lifetime? But this one takes the cake. By rehashing everything she did already and taking 30 years off her real age she once again has left us, her audience completely amazed. So way to go Madonna! By creating (or the corporate record labels) Lady Gaga we get to see everything you already did and somehow call it artistic. Maybe we should call it “artisitic”. That would be more appropriate now wouldn’t it. At least the term is a bit more creative than what Lady Gaga does. Uhh she is so shocking! Has anyone heard of Bowie, Hendrix, Iggy Pop?

  • DebraJMSmith

    I think they are both trash.Parents should not let their children watch them at all.Debra J.M. Smith

  • larmoecurl

    I remember when John Lennon said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. He was right. They were.I also remember all those white kids in the south jumping on Beatles records when they heard Lennon’s comments. These were the kids who, just a few years before, were at those anti desegregation rallies all over the South.Praise the lord or praise Bill Donahue. It really doesn’t matter. It’s bigotry and fear no matter how one looks at it.

  • willmcjunkin

    Judge says: “But I want better from my conservative friends. I became a conservative because of the ideas of the movement. Irving Kristol, Thomas Sowell, and Midge Decter are people who rely on facts, common sense, and age-old wisdom about the nature of the human person to come to conclusions about politics.” Well therein lies the difference between me and you. But in any case, I’m puzzled you think this shortcoming in an otherwise well-balanced, reasonable right wing ideology is just a minor, inexplicable blind spot? Guess there’s only so far that “facts, common sense, and age-old wisdom about the nature of the human person” can take you, huh?

  • chatard

    What is this garbage in the “On Faith” column (not that it’s any worse than alll of the athiesm garbage) and if this Mark Judge character is a conservative I am Attila the Hun.

  • dumby

    haven’t read through all the comments and i don’t know gaga’s true intent but i think mark judge is too *judgemental* in considering gaga’s material. I perceived it to be a piece with a message completely removed from like a prayer. while i think judge’s analysis of madonna’s piece is interesting and potentialy on point, i think the two pieces are intended to convey different messages. they are different messages. gaga’s piece seems to be about the end of a relationship, the pain generated by that, and throwing it back in the face of the guy out of hostility. whether that’s a healthy response or not can be debated but it’s a totally different message than like a prayer.

  • michele24k

    Mark – GaGa is not trying to be Madonna. The two videos are very different in their intent and meaning. GaGa is seeking to become her own God. This is a continuing theme in her videos. In Alejandro, she desecrates and consumes religious symbols, thus incorporating them within herself, in pursuit of becoming a God. This theme is common among celebrities who are occultists. As Marilyn Manson said – Satanism is not about worshipping the Devil so much as “becoming your own God”. I’ll venture to say you didn’t go into much detail about GaGa because her videos assault the senses with their rapid imagery. I suggest turning the sound down, playing the video, and then pressing rewind a lot. Then you may be able to speak in more detail about the shocking pagan rituals and practices depicted in her videos. The militaristic images reflect the times we are in – there is warfare against mankind being waged right now, in the “last days”. The joyless dance also signifies that the dancers are not exercising their own will, but are being controlled. The “power of the world lies in the hand of the wicked one”, as the Apostle Paul wrote. While you consider GaGa’s video “lazy trash”, it is clear that she has a very definite and specific message. I believe you missed the point.

  • Arsenal3

    Ha. All of you miss the true person that challenged the church and still does: Sinead O Connor. Everything else is just fluff.Madonna has NEVER reinvented herself. That is a media ploy. madonna has DYED her hair and changed clothing NOT changed who she is. Madonna has NEVER HAD to really change as the media has largely indulged and guarded her stupidity, lack of originality, lack of vocal and acting talent and her inability to be charming and vulnerable. Just as you are today, so the media did in the 80′s and 90′s EVER white female singer that appeared was compared to madonna. A space alien with ten heads could appear and have a hit song and people like you would say how “they are copying madonna…”Gaga is a multi-instrumentalist, madonna cannot play any musical instruments decently or at all. Gaga became famous nearly half a decade YOUNGER than Madonna. Madonna is only HALF Italian and let’s face it, got by on typical all American blue eyed blond magazine looks. Gaga is all Italian, with big features and not conventionally pretty at all yet she feels no qualms about it. Madonna seems to have spent her entire career with trainers or in a stylists’ chair. Madonna NEEDS to be seen as “hot” although that time for her was over-BIG TIME OVER- more than a decade ago despite her radical plastic surgery.So who are you kidding with your poor, biased writing? I really want to know. Thanks.

  • dewdrop3

    @Bluzulu:I wouldn’t even credit Madonna as being “mediocre.” She’s *below* mediocre.Madonna’s tours are the only things that do well in recent years (more on that in a future, separate post).Madonna has been beaten on previous tours in the last few years by others.Hannah Montana, Prince, Bon Jovi, and Jonas Brothers have sold more tickets than her.From 2008: “Bon Jovi Scores 2008′s Top-Grossing Tour [the Lost Highway tour],” source: Billboard; “Bon Jovi tops Billboard’s 2008 concert tally,” source: Los Angeles TimesIn an 2008 article, ibitimes.com, via Stub Hub information, says that the Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, and Police tours out-sold Madonna’s tours.Jonas Brothers sold the most actual tickets in 2008 according to this: “StubHub’s Annual Report on the Concert Economy,” posted by Julia Boorstin.A 2006 headline: “[Billy] Joel holds the sell-out key,” by Cameron Adams, music writer, hosted on Herald Sun (news.com.au), which states in part: “In the US his [Billy Joel's] current tour has outsold those of U2 and Madonna.”From Billboard.com, 2006: “The [Rolling] Stones’ tour was recognized as the top tour, based on gross dollars, and top draw, based on ticket sales.” Cinema Blend: “Move Over, Madonna: Rolling Stones Score Top Tour.”From Tulsa World, 2008, by Jennifer Chancellor: “She [Celine Dion] is the highest-grossing touring act in America, averaging about $4 million per city.”

  • dewdrop3

    @Bluzulu especially: Madonna’s albums don’t sell very well, particularly in the United States. When Madonna’s “Confessions” tour was aired on American television a few years ago, it failed (one of her tours also flopped on British television a few years ago; it may have been the same one, I don’t recall).As for the tour failing on American T.V., see, “Madonna Special a Turkey” hosted on eonline, or this, from Contact Music: “Madonna Concert Special Fails to Score Ratings”.Other indications of Madonna’s faltering career:Headline: “More woe for Madonna as new single [Miles Away] flops” (source: The Mirror, a British paper), and from Contact Music’s site: The fans got so angry over American radio stations refusing to play Madonna’s newer songs (about five, six years ago), that they started sending out petitions to get her music played on American radio. Madonna’s music can’t be that relevant if people have to *petition* and nag radio stations to get it played.Bluzulu said, “Madonna is A LOT more talented as a musician, songwriter and performer than people give her credit for.”All Madonna’s hit songs, especially the early ones that made her famous (e.g. Like A Virgin, Borderline, Open Your Heart, Like A Prayer, Dress You Up, Material Girl, etc.) were not written by her, nor does she even have co-writer credit on those.Madonna’s only “talent,” if you want to call it that, was giving sexual favors to musicians, journalists and others who would give her a break in the music business.

  • dewdrop3

    @Bluzulu who said in reference to Madonna, “And what a body of work Madonna has…not to mention what a body.”You mean Madonna’s mannish, sinewy, anorexic, unattractive looking body?Re (by Bluzulu): “There are not many 51 year old women who have spanned three decades…”Madonna is not the only female who has been in show business for over 20 years (and, yes, some on this list had careers that “spanned three (or more) decades”)-Celine Dion, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Kylie Minogue, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Wanda Jackson, Terri Nunn, Whitney Houston, Sarah Brightman, Gloria Estefan, Annie Lennox, Amy Grant were all in show business for over 20 years, and many of them continue to perform live, go on tour, and /or release new albums.Headline from 2009 (source movies.ndtv): “At 67, Streisand Out-Sells Madonna”According to a 2007 news.yahoo.com article, “Jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald is back on the U.S. pop album charts for the first time in just under 38 years. Fitzgerald, who died in 1996, had not been on the Billboard 200 since “Ella” peaked at No. 196 in October 1969.”Gloria Gaynor, who was singing disco songs back in the 1970s, released a new album in 2008.Brenda Lee was in show business for over 55 years, and she released a new album in 2007.Cher was working well into her 60s and was in show biz for over 20 years.As for male singers and bands who have been around for over 20 years: Rush, Prince, Billy Joel, U2, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Heartbreakers, Foreigner, Michael W. Smith, Bon Jovi, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys, Paul McCartney, Howard Jones, Rod Stewart, The Doobie Brothers, Wayne Newton, Duran Duran, Ozzy Osbourne, Ricky Martin, Devo, Neil Diamond, Bruce Springsteen continue to tour and/or make albums.

  • FleaDip

    I can’t believe Lady CaCa would actually try to defend their idol over Madonna. I used to hate Madonna and even had an anti-Madonna site. Now, I have come to respect her. First of all, for those of you who are saying Madonna is a thing of the past, think again. Do a google search for the following:Madonna equals Elvis record with Celebration (Telegraph)Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour is highest-earning ever for a woman (Rolling Stone)For those who think Lady GaGa is a musician and Madonna isn’t, also do a google search for the following–David Foster: Madonna is a brilliant songwriter (Rolling Stone)

  • julian2

    I have never, for the life of me, been able to understand the appeal of Madonna.She has the most mediocre voice in the music business; a female William Shatner.Lady Gaga is an artist. Madonna is a businesswoman. Being a successful businesswoman

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