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M.I.A.: Unlike Lady Gaga, I won't be 'blindfolded with naked men feeding me apples'

April 7, 2010 |  5:42 pm
Mia Never one to put her poison pen down for long, the agit-pop rapper M.I.A. has turned her ire toward Lady Gaga in a recent NME interview (unfortunately, unavailable in original form online). In it, she tosses off probably the best one-line takedown of Gaga yet put to print.

How important are image and visuals to your music?

Very. But it’s not like “Haus of Gaga” (laughs). Me blindfolded with naked men feeding me apples and ....

It comes as part of a longer, must-read ethering centered around  a popular criticism of Gaga’s music: that her fashion sense seems to far exceed her songs in terms of future-thinking ambition. 

“None of her music’s reflective of how weird she wants to be or thinks she is. She models herself on Grace Jones and Madonna, but the music sounds like 20-year-old Ibiza music, you know? She’s not progressive, but she’s a good mimic…. That’s a talent and she’s got a great team behind her, but she’s the industry's last stab at making itself important - saying, ‘You need our money behind you, the endorsements, the stadiums.’ Respect to her, she’s keeping a hundred thousand people in work, but my belief is: Do It Yourself.”

In New York magazine’s earlier, fantastic profile of Gaga, one of the more intriguing subplots is how much shape-shifting Gaga went through to become a star known for morphing – from grungy rocker to drum-machine-driven hope of Def Jam to the kind of arena-trance pop that finally clicked. The story suggests that the whole point of Gaga is that others project ideas onto her charisma and taste, but that her charisma and taste are as flexible as her desire for fame and influence requires.

We’re past the point in culture of really caring if our pop stars are “authentic” or not, and we derive a lot of genuine pleasure from the sounds and imagery of “faking it.” But M.I.A.’s take underscores a more valid criticism – that even if a star is contrived, at least be contrived to fascinating ends. No one really touches Gaga on red carpet photogenic qualities, and she’s got an undeniable instrument in that voice.

But M.I.A.’s got a point: Much of “The Fame” wouldn’t be amiss on a ‘90s Ibiza trance compilation.

Here’s to hoping that Gaga’s sonic aspirations match up with her sartorial ones on her next full-length. But even if not, M.I.A. will be there to freak out our ears and eyes alike.

-- August Brown

Photo: M.I.A. Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press