This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
I don’t want to brag, but this week Lady Gaga called me an “artist.”
Yes, obviously it was directly to me and not to the 84.2 million people who follow her on Twitter and the perhaps billions more who read the message once countless news websites picked it up. She and I just have that relationship. She knows my taste level like that <3.
The comment/compliment was in reference to her album ARTPOP, released in 2013, suddenly surging to number one on the iTunes Pop Album chart and into the top 10 of overall albums. It was a byproduct of a fan campaign in support of Gaga’s experimental album, which received mixed reviews eight years ago, to prove how underappreciated the music was now that we’re all older and wiser—and, apparently, have caught up to Gaga’s artistic vision.
“Making this album was like heart surgery, I was desperate, in pain, and poured my heart into electronic music that slammed harder than any drug I could find,” she wrote. “I fell apart after I released this album. Thank you for celebrating something that once felt like destruction. We always believed it was ahead of its time. Years later turns out, sometimes, artists know. And so do little monsters. Paws up.”
As one of those “artists” she mentions—me, specifically—I’ve always loved the album, almost as much as I love being smug.
“Applause,” as culture critic Louis Virtel wrote, was as if “a pop star who sounded like the B-52s had chugged 20 Red Bulls and we dared to be indifferent about it.” The anthem “Gypsy” was as if Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” mated with an Elton John ballad and a drag queen came strutting out of the womb. It is one of my favorite Gaga songs, and, yes, I have cried to it during a SoulCycle class.
The whole point of bringing all this up is that it made me think of music getting its due, especially as the faint light of hope at the end of this pandemic is starting to resemble a disco ball sparkling over a dance floor.
I can’t wait to do spastic clap choreography to “Applause” after several drinks at a bar and scream over the music about how ARTPOP went to number one this year to a person who doesn’t care. More than that, I can’t wait to elevate the seated-at-my-desk wiggle choreography that I’ve been perfecting these past 14 months (you should see my meticulous shoulder bops to Dua Lipa’s “Levitating”) to on-a-dance-floor wiggle choreography (equally embarrassing) when the music that’s been released finally gets its rapturous communal rave.
May God and Oprah bless Gaga and Dua Lipa for giving us ace soundtracks for dancing through a world on fire this last year. But what a relief it will be to jump up and down like a drunken pogo stick when “Rain on Me” from Gaga’s Chromatica plays while we’re out with our friends. Imagine the blissful, possibly upsetting chaos the first time you’re out and “WAP” comes on, or scream-singing to a track from Fearless (Taylor’s Version) with your friends.
I truly believe that the first time Cardi B raps “broke boys don’t deserve no pussy” from “Up” and a group of gays dancing in a circle shout in unison “I KNOW THAT’S RIGHT!” will be the healing moment this country needs, a musical act of purpose not seen since we all joined hands to sing “Heal the World.”
This idea of any sort of normal or celebration is happening fast. Let’s just say that the speed of the vaccine rollout has come as a great surprise to me and my pandemic body. I haven’t not not googled “post-Moderna crash diet” several times in a late-night anxiety spiral. But the promise of it all, from big things like seeing loved ones to little things like finally giving dancefloor justice to the last year of music, is still so exciting.
How have I weathered the last 14 months? I bought three plants, all of which died almost immediately. My hair has committed mass suicide, leaping to their deaths in an act one cannot properly determine is related to pandemic anxiety or the fear of old age. Pieces of my soul have followed suit with each passing month, not to mention the—snark aside—very real and painful losses my family and I have experienced.
All of which is to say it is time to celebrate life again, even if it is with only half a soul left and while partially bald. Cue up the Dua Lipa.