Following M.I.A. and Andy Rooney, magical fairy creature Joanna Newsom is now the third eccentric ingenue to come out as anti-Gaga. In a terrific interview with the Guardian today — which the writer implies Newsom gave while still bombed from the night before (“She has only been up a few hours after ‘quite a few post-show cocktails’ …”) — the harpist compares Lady Gaga unfavorably to Madonna, then slams Madonna too.
Says Newsom, probably between hiccups:
“I’m mystified by the laziness of people looking at how she presents herself, and somehow assuming that implies there’s a high level of intelligence in the songwriting. Her approach to image is really interesting, but you listen to the music, and you just hear glow sticks. Smart outlets for musical journalism give her all this credit, like she’s the new Madonna …” She breaks off and laughs. “Although I’m coming from a perspective of also thinking Madonna is not great at all. I’m like, fair enough: she is the new Madonna, but Madonna’s a dumb-ass!”
Later, in a followup email, Newsom attempts to retreat from the above snaps, but then says some even more pointed things:
“I may have contradicted myself. My problem isn’t actually with Lady Gaga. But there’s not much in her music to distinguish it from other glossy, formulaic pop. She just happens to wear slightly weirder outfits than Britney Spears. But they’re not that weird - they’re mostly just skimpy. She’s fully marketing her body/sexuality; she’s just doing it while wearing, like, a ‘fierce’ telephone hair-hat. Her sexuality has no scuzziness, no frank raunchiness, in the way that, say, Peaches, or even Grace Jones, have — she’s Arty Spice! And, meanwhile, she seems to take herself so oddly seriously, the way she talks about her music in the third person, like she’s Brecht or something. She just makes me miss Cyndi Lauper.”
And on the subject of Madonna: “I shouldn’t have called Madonna a dumb-ass. Her music and she have just gotten so boring to me, this last decade. I think maybe she doesn’t hold her money very gracefully, the way some people can’t hold their drink. But one thing she is surely not is dumb.”
Good points, all! It’s just too bad Newsom couldn’t have expressed this in the form of a harp-y, Van Dyke Parks—arranged dis track.