Lady Gaga has taught us many things — like, you can indeed shop for an outfit at the supermarket — but the primary lesson of her meteoric rise is that no matter how talented you may be, your best shot at major fame is wearing outfits so baffling we can’t possibly look away. And thus a passel of attention-hungry imitators was born, most notably Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj. Both ladies spent 2010 revving up their solo careers with as big — and befuddling — a sartorial splash as possible: We’re talking animal masks, catsuits, eyebrow jewels, face paint, and even a headdress. Of course, no one can out-Gaga the master, but since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we’ve put Ke$ha and Nicki’s wild wardrobes in a head-to-head battle to see which of them has the best shot at being
well, definitely not Gaga’s replacement in the Crazytown monarchy, but perhaps her lady-in-waiting.
Near-tyrannical pantlessness is the original Gaga hallmark: We’ve practically seen more of her pelvis than of our own. Ke$ha — currently on the cover of Complex
wearing a leotard and roller skates — often swaps in tights for trousers, whereas Nicki’s robustly sheer outfit here takes the very concept of pantslessness and turns it, as they say, up to a thongtastic eleven. She’ll be getting a thank-you note from Sisqo. Advantage: Nicki
We appreciate the drama inherent in wearing a snowy full-length fur when it’s apparently otherwise warm enough for a short skirt and bare legs. But let’s face it: That’s more Sharon Stone than Lady Gaga, who is probably kicking herself right now that she never performed a concert clad as a serial-killing plushie who scalped Yogi Bear and lived to brag about it. And now she can’t, because it’s been done. Dare we applaud? Advantage: Ke$ha.
This one’s a toughie: Nicki appears to be the captain of Planet Beehive’s paratrooper corps, while Ke$ha, with her Mohawk, shredded Hefty gown, and BeDazzled caterpillar brows, could pass for an emissary from a galaxy whose ruler is a massive anthropomorphized paper shredder. Both are Gaga-esque, but we have to give this one to the girl who most looks like she wants to kill us all in our sleep, because performance art is pain. Advantage: Ke$ha.
Truly, not enough people can — with one simple hair crown —c ombine the style of a young Rod Stewart with the aura of Daniel Boone and the bleach job of Brigitte Nielsen, so Ke$ha is to be applauded for her moxie. However, Nicki going on stage looking like Dolly Parton in the electric chair sounds like the kind of statement Gaga would find irresistible. Advantage: Nicki.
Nicki’s regular hair signature is bright colors. We assume she’s sporting a series of wigs, for how often they change; her mane can be anything from all-over hot pink, green, and aqua, to a platinum crown and tips stained every color of the rainbow (sometimes all at once). Ke$ha’s bushy, brittle, bird’s nest of a bedhead nightmare puts up a good fight in terms of freakiness, but we’re more impressed by Nicki’s variety and attention to detail. And cleanliness. Advantage: Nicki.
If you are neither Lady Gaga, a medieval monk, an executioner, nor Death himself, it’s hard to get away with walking around town casually sporting a hood. Ke$ha looks like she just woke up from camping at last year’s Lollapalooza. Nicki at least has clearly put some thought into her sartorial color story — that story being, “My Little Pony Goes to Jazzercise.” Beats waking up smelling like Mad Dog and mud. Advantage: Nicki.
Maybe all these photos have recalibrated our standards, because Nicki’s pants — which remind us of an old screen saver — almost look chic and understated compared to Ke$ha’s seriously hideous leggings, which we’d easily believe came from someone who dropped acid and then banged his/her head on one of Mood’s Dumpsters. We don’t think Gaga would approve of either, so the edge goes to the one whose pants’ hip folds could secrete a Champagne bottle. Advantage: Nicki.
Ke$ha’s patterned onesie has us all pondering the age-old question, “Can a zebra get camel-toe?” But Nicki’s feels like the catsuit version of a similar, albeit more extreme, pearl-centric look Lady Gaga wore
earlier in the year. Of course, this one lacks Gaga’s ungainly hoof-boots and the bonus jewels pasted to her face, but the same commitment to quasi-nudity is fully present. Advantage: Nicki
This is an admirable effort from Nicki, as evidenced by the look of consternation on the dude standing behind her; “consternation from civilians” is a major objective of a Gaga imitator. But as bright and bold as Nicki’s outfit is, she just evokes a cute girl on her way to a roller-skating party when compared with Ke$ha, who looks like she just won a bowling league for finger-painting rave enthusiasts who eat highlighters. Advantage: Ke$ha.
This is about as close to regular as these ladies get. Even so, Ke$ha still appears to have wandered off her intergalactic spacecraft during prom just in case our Earth hotel rooms have better rates. Nicki’s fiery hair reminds us more vividly of things Lady Gaga herself has done to spice up her less unusual dresses. And it also makes us want to get her under the mistletoe with the Heat Miser. Advantage: Nicki.
Those are some serious bejeweled leg-of-mutton sleeves on Nicki: King Tut probably packed that jacket in his tomb in case the afterlife was chilly. Ke$ha just makes us worry that she personally scraped those feathers off some roadkill and is off in search of a Thunderdome, where we actually imagine Gaga would be the one singing the remake of Tina Turner’s Mad Max theme. Ergo … Advantage: Ke$ha.
Ke$ha’s non-tights are really more of a cobweb spun by a half-dead drunk spider. There is nothing “panty” nor “hose” about them. Conversely, Nicki is so thoroughly covered that we can’t figure out where the tights stop and where the rest of the madness begins. Bonus points for sidetracking us with the debate over whether she’s wearing an athletic support or a fancy adult diaper. And since Gagaism is all about making people gawk and talk, rather than turn away in horror, we’re on Team Bulge. Advantage: Nicki.
We’re not sure what inspired Nicki to pair fringed shoes with hair that evokes Bette Midler’s circa Big Business getting caught in a cotton-candy machine, but we’ll give her this: The girl never met a color that scared her. Ke$ha … well, let’s just say we’re not sure who should be more horrified, Native Americans or Cher impersonators. It feels like we’ve seen Nicki’s hair already on Gaga in some form, but Our Lady of the Lobster Hat has never done a headdress and that seems like an oversight. Advantage: Ke$ha.
This is a tough call. Nicki is wearing a skirt that is, essentially, a cage. On the other hand, Ke$ha is wearing a plastic tiger mask over her face. Nicki: two different colored legs, like a court jester. Ke$ha: plastic tiger mask. We could go on, but we’re having a sudden craving for Frosted Flakes. Advantage: Ke$ha, by a (plastic) nose.
We thought Nicki would win this by a landslide, but Ke$ha put up a fight; apparently you can never underestimate a girl who, by her own admission, brushes her teeth with liquor. But ultimately Dame Dollar Sign’s random, disheveled messes don’t feel as much like a cousin of Lady Gaga’s resplendent pseudo-art than as Nicki’s more structured, thought-out insanity does. But don’t give up, Ke$ha: Time to start looking for someone who’ll make you a pair of pants out of pork chops.