While the music may not be a mirror image, Lady GaGa and Katy Perry have an awful lot in common. Both are in their early '20s. Both had previous heartbreaking record deals before finding a home that produced a hit pop record. Both have had at least three Top 40 singles, and are best-sellers on iTunes (and two of their most recent singles happen to feature a gambling theme). Both can dance, sing, and write. Both are becoming household brands.
Is it too soon to decide who has a career and who's a flash in the pan relegated to "one hit wonder" status two years from now?
Below, HitFix music critics Melinda Newman and Katie Hasty sound off -- via instant message -- on the relative merits of these chart-topping beauties, vis-à-vis the most recent videos for KP's "Waking Up in Vegas" and LG's "LoveGame." Katie generally throws down the gauntlet for Ms. Perry while Melinda, who just reviewed the new video for "Paparazzi," defends Lady GaGa.
Watch -- and debate -- along. Who wins? Lady GaGa or Katy Perry? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
HFKatie: Well I'll just kick off by saying the name Katy is probably the best name in the whole world.
HFMelinda: Let's tackle "Waking up in Vegas."
HFKatie: Alright, what I can already tell you what I love about this vid... is the dude looks like a total goober-fest. And she looks like a Kewpie doll
HFMelinda: Who is he? Is he someone famous? I know I said I'm rooting for LG, but Katy is adorable here and really knows how to play toward the camera.
HFKatie: and play cards, apparently.
HFMelinda: And wear kick ass costumes. I'm getting ready to name drop, but when I interviewed her, she told me that the costumes were picked for her by the famous designer Bob Mackie, who dressed Cher. She looks amazing.
HFKatie: Cute! They're banking on the fact that people recognize Penn & Teller!
HFKatie: This video concept has fire in it. Which is always aces.
HFMelinda: ACES! HA!
HFKatie: and a phone booth with money blowing it.
HFMelinda: AND AN ELEPHANT!!!
HFKatie: What do you think of the song? I mean, its an obvious play on oooo-I'm-Katy-Perry-and-I'm-kinda-naughty, her losing money and drinking 'til she forgets stuff.
HFKatie: "I say shut-up! And frikkin'." Oooooo! Edgy!
HFMelinda: The song is fine, but the video is what makes it. This is truly a case -- and that's part of my issue with Katy -- is that she hasn't proven yet that she can come up with a song that stands on its own without a really great video.
HFKatie: But the vocal performance, for Katy, is a little eh, especially after "Hot n Cold." But Katy as a singer is what makes her legit for me.
HFMelinda: But "I Kissed a Girl" was gimmicky and a novelty song enhanced by a strong video. Interestingly, one of her straight ahead songs, "Thinking of You" -- which had a gorgeous video btw -- didn't chart nearly as high as her other stuff. Katy does look like a Kewpie doll and she has to be careful that people don't just look at her as a Betty Boop-type character. FROM THE START, Lady GaGa has set herself up as a character---there's no room for confusion. It's a very, very interesting conceit.
HFKatie: did you catch the product placement? with that phone she has in the car?
HFKatie: Katy Perry could sell diaper cream.
HFKatie: a face to launch a thousand ships. Or potato chips.
HFMelinda: I'm not sure that anyone is looking at Katy as the next best singer. She is going to be that type artist that people look to as a style fixture-- it's about the look, her appeal to girls and guys -- which GaGa doesn't have.
HFKatie: i think GaGa appeals to drag queens.
HFMelinda: Hey, drag queens make the world go 'round. They're a hell of a lot more interesting than most of us walking the planet and I'm still pissed that they ALWAYS, ALWAYS look better in high heels than any real girl
HFMelinda: Katy is edgy, but only to 9-year-old girls. It's completely homogenized with, as you said, "I'm a good girl gone bad, but I PROMISE I'll be back to good before any real damage is done!"
HFKatie: this is true. GaGa is a different doll. Rather, a robot. Katy Perry is a doll from every decade
HFKatie: But the singing! The songs! "Ur So Gay" had that little flip to her voice, and the verses were so sexy, as she's dissing on her former dude.
HFMelinda: "Ur So Gay" complete novelty song -- even offensive in some ways to me -- and a flop, deservedly so. She has got to start to get some cred with a solid ballad or two. "Waking Up in Vegas" is a step to be taken more seriously.
HFKatie: I thought "Ur So Gay" was crazy catchy. I'll go out on a limb and say I don't think the lyrics were offensive. Campy, yes. Tacky, yes. Offensive? Meh.
HFMelinda: We agree to disagree. However, like LG, it's clear that Katy loves "her gays," as Kathy Griffin calls them, so I know she didn't mean any offence...
HFKatie: also, the 7" had the best cover. Simply put: her, doing the splits in a stupid leotard, wearing a bunny pinata head, flipping the bird.
HFMelinda: I didn't see the 7" cover, but the image in my head is perfect!
HFKatie: ok you ready for some gaga? "LoveGame"
HFMelinda: I don't think Lady GaGa is such a lady as it's very clear what "taking a ride on your Disco Stick" means
HFKatie: not really subtle, is she...
HFKatie: but then again, wearing sparklies naked isn't subtle either.
HFKatie: CAMPARI product placement....
HFMelinda: Campari is all over this one. Am I the only one that that bothers?
HFKatie: totally bother me too.
HFMelinda: Campari's in the Pussycat Dolls video too... they are spending some cold hard cash to get young girls drinking Campari -- good luck with that. I HATE IT
HFKatie: I will now associate disco sticks with Campari.
HFMelinda: Okay, where was this crew whenever I ride the subway?
HFMelinda: After all the money she's earned by now, can LG still not afford a pair of pants?
HFKatie: note to producers: Lady forgot her pants.
HFMelinda: For me, it's all about the beat. LG makes boring videos, if you ask me. Katy has her beat when it comes to that.
HFMelinda: I thought it was interesting that Katy talks about kissing a girl, but LG puts her money where her mouth is, so to speak
HFKatie: does she remind you of gwen stefani during the dance sequence?
HFMelinda: More Janet Jackson for some reason
HFKatie: RHYTHM NATION, DISCO-STICKERS
HFKatie: GaGa used to be a burlesque dancer, and it shows. I can't tell if she's any GOOD, though, yknow?
HFKatie: the following phrases may not survive the apocalypse:
HFKatie: "I love game"
HFKatie: "This beat is sick"
HFMelinda: Unlike Katy, LG is all ABOUT BRANDING and not being subtle about it at all. We get "Haus of GaGa" at the beginning of every clip. Her styling is always exactly the same or some variation of it-- leotard, platinum hair. She is a product, just as McDonalds is, and I give her incredible credit that she has managed to brand herself so completely so quickly
HFKatie: Lady GaGa my favorite evil robot brand.
HFMelinda: She managed to completely change outfits on the subway... she really is magic! but, as you suggest, is she using her power for evil or good?
HFKatie: she makes me think of the mean girl on the school bus that would kick the back of your seat for no reason. that kind of evil.
HFMelinda: I just wonder if she ever eats -- starving yourself can make you evil
HFKatie: hahaha, "Sweetheart, you need to eat more..."
HFKatie: <piles on mashed potatoes on GAGA'S NAKED BODY>
HFMelinda: What's with the yellow watch... what kind of product placement is that?
HFKatie: what kind of jeans are those.... what kind of lipstick is that... which city's mass transportation system is that....
HFKatie: now I think everything is a product placement
HFKatie: LoveGame (TM) brought to you by Activision!
HFMelinda: Here's my thing about LG. She is singularly more focused than KP and that may be what gives her the edge. Katy is more mainstream. While LG's music is inescapable this summer, Katy definitely plays to the mainstream while LG wants to pretend to have a little bit of an edge
HFKatie: singularly focused. I agree
HFKatie: katy perry has a handle on the '50s, '60s and Warped Tour, while gaga has the '80s and ALL OF THE DISTANT FUTURE.
HFKatie: both their histories factor into their image
HFMelinda: When I interviewed LG, it was clear that she has the kind of focus that an early Madonna had. Unclear yet as to whether she's adopting that focus or it's truly hers.
HFKatie: Katy can rock, dance, pop
HFKatie: GaGa just makes my ass move
HFMelinda: What's wrong with that? It's a tough world. there's something great about someone who's only purpose is to get your booty shaking and let you forget about everything even if it's just for a second
HFKatie: nothing's wrong with it, Katy's being ambidextrous... makes me think she's real, and in charge. Her vision.
HFMelinda: Just as in "Poker Face," LG has cards she has not ever begun to show us
HFKatie: Poker! I hardly even know her! RE: cards...mmmmmaybe... but i've seen all of GaGa's "cards" in this last vid, including her ladybits
HFMelinda: I think if you could freeze some of the frames, we could definitely see her lady business.
HFKatie: Katy I think is more fun and takes herself less serious... at least in these vids. but if GaGa can keep up the self-imposed ruse, then that'll be fun to see what she can do in the future
HFKatie: Katy would definitely not kick my seat on the bus, however.
HFMelinda: Katy would scoot over and let you sit with her on the bus
HFKatie: i want her life-force to be for GOOD
HFMelinda: I agree. There's room for both. Lady GaGa is one of the most intense people I've ever met. It may be a ruse, but it's easy to believe that for her, there is nothing else other than what she's doing right now with her career. There's a steely-eyed conviction and I think she can recreate herself over and over. Katy, on the other hand, may be the healthier person in the long run
HFKatie: haha, when I talked to Katy, she said she works out for fun.
HFKatie: WHO THE HELL WORKS OUT "FOR FUN"
HFMelinda: Now you had to ruin it for me. I actually liked her until that last comment
HFKatie: hahaha. And she has a healthy obsession for fruit.
HFMelinda: Yes- phallic shaped ones-- she's all about her bananas and cherries. She told me she has no use for kumquats...on that note
HFKatie: I'm pretty sure GaGa may do other "things" for fun...
HFKatie: like dance with ambisexual men on broken subways.
HFMelinda: And talk about her stripper past in her faux-British accent
HFKatie: she did that?
HFMelinda: She speaks in a very deliberate manner, sort of like Madonna
HFKatie: ooof. that must be exhausting.
HFKatie: but so is her "LoveGame"
HFMelinda: Depends upon whose disco stick you're riding, ; )
HFKatie: OMG MELINDA HitFix High-Five!
HFMelinda: But seriously, I worry alittle about LG burning out. There is a lot of effort that goes into being that fabulous all the time. I have a feeling that Katy is enjoying the ride a little more right now. Having said that, I feel like we already know how KP is going to develop -- it could be great, but LG has me glued to my seat (well, not really, but kind of ) to see what she has up her sleeve for her next go 'round.
HFMelinda: And, if I can bring commerce into it, the public is clearly feeling Lady G. Her album has been in or near the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 for more that 26 weeks! There is a fascination with her...
HFKatie: fabulous is one word for it... it seems stale already in some regards. like, how many chain-mail (and gay-male) tunics can you own?
HFKatie: Katy seems like one of the boys... and girls...
HFKatie: her songs are fun. gaga's are sexy.
HFMelinda: Yes- 100% agree. that's why if she can't be like Madonna and figure out a way to keep us fascinated with the reinvention, she will ride into the sunset---on her disco stick.
HFKatie: <salutes the setting sun>