Lady Gaga, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, Wants to Purify the Music Industry (and Stan for Adele)
Lady Gaga — Queen of Pop, TV, Calling the Internet a Toilet, Working With Mark Ronson, Singing Jazz, Slaying The Sound of Music Tributes, Mentioning That She’s Italian, Winning Grammys, and So Much More — is Billboard’s 2015 Woman of the Year.
As previously announced, Billboard has chosen Gaga as their 2015 Woman of the Year. Today, their cover story, featuring a “raw, revealing” interview with the pop (and jazz and TV) makes its way out into the world. Here is the gorgeous cover, as shot by Gaga’s frequent collaborators, Inez and Vinoodh:
The accompanying interview is, as promised, both raw and revealing and should be read in its entirety at the source. Here, however, are a few highlights.
On turning 30 in March:
“My birthday is in March, so these are the last moments of my 20s. I already mourned that in a way, and now I’m really excited about showing girls, and even men, what it can mean to be a woman in her 30s. Why is it that we’re disposing of people once they pass that mark? It’s suddenly, ‘You’re an old woman.’ I’m not f—ing old. I’m more sexual and powerful and intelligent and on my shit than I’ve ever been. I’ve come a long way through a lot of heartache and pain, but none of it made me damaged goods. It made me a fighter. I want to show women they don’t need to try to keep up with the 19-year-olds and the 21-year-olds in order to have a hit. Women in music, they feel like they need to f—ing sell everything to be a star. It’s so sad. I want to explode as I go into my 30s.”
On wanting to quit pop music:
“At the end of 2014, my stylist asked, ‘Do you even want to be a pop star anymore?’ I looked at him and I go, ‘You know, if I could just stop this train right now, today, I would. I just can’t. [But] I need to get off now because I’m going to die.’ When you’re going so fast you don’t feel safe anymore, you feel like you’re being slapped around and you can’t think straight. But then I felt hands lifting me. It was like everybody came together to try and put a star back in the sky, and they weren’t going to let me down.”
On working with Tony Bennett:
“There is nobody more badass than Tony Bennett. That man is a part of the history of music in a way that is extremely powerful, and he taught me to stay true to who I am, to not let anybody exploit me. He is responsible in so many ways for making me happy, and I can say the same for Elton [John]. When the whole industry turned their back on me during Artpop, they were the ones who said, ‘Hey, this is a blip. It’s going to go away.’ On tour, I had people give me war medals and memorabilia just to thank me for exposing a younger generation to Tony Bennett because he changed their lives in such significant ways. I want to be a part of curating a culture where we don’t give credence to anyone who is rude or crass or not good for the world.
“Ryan and I have both experienced the same sort of criticism over the intention of our work. My whole career has been built on this perception that I’m trying to evoke attention because of the things I’m interested in, when it’s not that way at all. If you don’t like to be disturbed, [American Horror Story] probably isn’t for you. If you don’t like absurdity, I’m probably not for you. I hung upside down for 45 minutes for Robert Wilson and drained all the blood in my body, and I’ve stood in a freezing cold river naked for two hours with magnets on my head for Marina Abramovic. I’m a hard-core chick. I go there. I can put all my rage into that dark art, and then the rest of my life can be spent clearheaded, doing the things I know to be right, like philanthropy and sticking to my guns musically.”
On being a “fashionable robot”:
“You can’t sell your soul once you make it. It’s a big mistake to just go after the money to try to stay on top. I think that’s what everyone wanted me to do. But I’m a different kind of girl, and when being different is not in style it’s hard for me to function. People think, ‘You can just sit down at a piano whenever you want and write,’ but I couldn’t write for two f—ing years. For Artpop, I was doing beats instead. I didn’t want to be near that damn [piano]. It was too emotional. I would start to play and sing, and my mind would go, ‘You are way too talented for this shit. F—, your voice sounds good. F—, that’s a beautiful chord. F—, that’s an amazing lyric. Why are you letting these people run you into the ground? When did you become the fashionable robot?’ Can’t being an artist be enough? Is talent ever the thing? I think for Adele it is. I think for Bruno Mars it is. But that’s what I learned from working with Tony: If talent isn’t the thing, then you are way off-base.
“That’s why every up and down of my career was worth it — it has led me to epiphanies. We can’t create without epiphanies. You could have one and not even know it because you’re so high or there are seven models sucking your dick or you’re so intoxicated by the lifestyle. I’m grateful for what I have, but that doesn’t mean I don’t value the gift of life. Because while this house is beautiful, once I cross my property line I’m no longer free; it’s legal to stalk me all over the world. The thing that makes me happy is that piano.”
On the state of the music industry:
“I call on every artist to be kind to one another, and compassionate. Let us purify this industry again and put our finger in the face of every executive and say, ‘If you are spending money, is it on someone who can really sing? Is it on someone who has a perspective?’ It’s almost funny to see the look on Tony’s face, the way he shakes his head, when I tell him how the industry has become. This whole thing of remixes for the radio, I have to say: When it doesn’t feel like the two artists were in the room together, it really hurts me because it’s such an injustice to what it means for two artists to meet. It’s clever. But are we putting too many limits on the way things need to be on the radio for artists to feel free enough to create genuinely?
“We can blame the digital era forever, but music is a natural right of humankind. We’ve been singing in caves since the beginning and learning about reverb because of our voices echoing off mountainsides. That’s the thing that scares people the most about me — of all of my contemporaries, I’m probably just the most romantic. Especially in a world where music education is not the biggest thing. Kids become depressed when they are born with a creative instinct but are not taught how to express it. Can you imagine having to come and someone says, ‘I’m so sorry, but you can never ejaculate in this life’? If you don’t teach someone how to release that energy, it gets blocked up, and it’s painful. Kids need to learn how to express who they are and seek value in it.”
The feature also includes a neat little timeline of Gaga’s slayage in 2015, from her jaw-dropping Oscars performance to her sixth Grammy win to her becoming the first artist in history to sell more than 7 million downloads of two singles (“Just Dance” and “Poker Face”). Stay seething, haters!
Gaga is set to accept the Woman of the Year award at Billboard’s Women in Music ceremony, which will air Dec. 18 on Lifetime. Other stars slated to appear include Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Lana Del Rey, and Missy Elliott.