Velvetpark has become somewhat Lady Gaga-centric of late. I told Watson the other day that I might have to start countering with persistent posts about Brandi Carlile. But I can't keep up! In addition to Watson, Cage, Moon, Lieds, and even Professor Crandall are now all on the Gaga wagon. Still, I want to make a point here.
I see Gaga and Carlile as two ends of the queer spectrum. As I see them, Gaga is all about flamboyant showmanship, pushing boundaries, and the crafting of big hits, while Carlile is focused on authentic presentation, building bridges, and the writing of good songs.
Lady Gaga looks to and culls from the past to infuse her shock value imagery; Brandi incorporates and honors her influences through her sincere dedication to the music itself. Watch and compare their videos to fully appreciate their differences.
Besides their queerness, these two share another intersection: Elton John.
Gaga draws from his extravagance and strives to go even further. As Watson wrote the other day, “she's so terribly sincere in her desire to make that space and that energy accessible and available to everyone, including people who have been afraid to embrace it for fear of being labeled too freakish or too queer.”
On the other hand, Carlile heeds Elton's earnestness and sees no need to retread the trail that he and others blazed: "I hope that somewhere in Small Town, USA, a 15-year-old kid looks to me as a role model the way I looked at the Indigo Girls and Elton John as role models... and I hope they also recognize that the reason why I don't have to have a lot of formality around it, the reason why I don't have to wear it on my sleeve and make a spectacle of it, is because there were people before me who paved the way so I wouldn't have to."
Some might throw around words like 'assimilationist' or 'garden variety' in response to Carlile's brand of gaiety, but they are neither appropriate or respectful. In fact, I find both terms to be fairly offensive. Brandi's just being herself, in all her humble glory (as are the rest of us).
Besides, if they were all out there gaying it up Gaga-style, then the Lady wouldn't be special or ground-breaking now would she. And I – along with many other garden varieties – would have no one to relate to.