Climb the mountain

So by now, (if you enjoy pop culture events) you either watched Lady Gaga’s performance at the Academy Awards live or caught up with it on the internet. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to go find a link and listen.

I am not necessarily surprised by the talent she displayed in performing selections from The Sound of Music. I knew she was super-talented. I’m not a big fan of her pop persona, though I recognize her talent and abilities as being among the leaders in her industry. No, what amazed me was the solid…Solid….versatility she displayed in performing not only the Julie Andrews part of the catalogue with sensitivity and confidence, but also Climb Every Mountain … which is written for a dramatic soprano and requires different vocal skills and range.

She nailed it.

If you watch her facial expressions during her (well-deserved) standing ovation, there is a flash of disbelief on her face. It is almost as if she couldn’t believe that she had done that.

The question that popped in my head after watching that was, “Why the schtick?”

With all that talent, and considerable versatility, she has ability beyond what most of the viewing audience realized. So why did she/does she cling to this pop persona of hers? Or better yet, why did she develop it in the first place?

The answer to that is frighteningly simple…image sells.

In the entertainment industry, there is no shortage of talent, pretty faces, and even versatility. If you want to set yourself apart, you need to create an image that people will remember. History shows this again and again. The Beatles clean cut business suit image, fashioned by Brian Epstein, was designed to appeal to older record executives and wary parents who thought Rock & Roll was a passing fad. The KISS make-up and rock image was designed to give people a visual memory of a heavy metal band when there were a lot of other bands around. Madonna’s image seemed to be fashioned to keep people talking about the entertainment – when (albeit early in her career) her singing skills were limited. It seems as if Gaga’s flamboyant stage presence was designed to keep people talking – as if her talents wouldn’t be good enough to be remembered on their own.

I think she just blew that out of the water. It will be interesting to see how she moves forward and if she simply lets her talent and ability do the entertaining.

If there is a takeaway from this, it is to never underestimate your abilities. Always keep yourself grounded in something you do well and love doing. If you keep working and applying your skills to the things that you love most, there will come a moment, a pinnacle where you perform to your very best. At that moment, you will break through into something you never anticipated… and a manufactured image is rendered irrelevant.

Passion for what you do is the best marketing strategy.

7 thoughts on “Climb the mountain

    1. John S Post author

      It’s just a shame that she HAD to resort to crazy outfits and such to become famous, before we realized the extent of her talent. Showmanship is a part of it I know. But still… Thanks for the comment!

  1. Sarah W

    Thanks for this, John—I needed that last paragraph today!

    This week, it feels like I’ve been slogging through deep editorial mud in ankleboots made of lead. 😛

  2. Osyth

    Gaga was absolutely extraordinary and I agree, I think she actually surprised herself. it was a pleasure to see her clad in a pretty Disney Princess dress with no crazy notes to distract from the notes she was hitting with a clarity that left the crowd breathless. Once upon a time I worked for Freddie Mercury – it reminded me a little of Barcelona when he cast off the make-up and the whatever image he was affecting that season – l’apres midi d’une faune effete or gay macho leather-clad whipping boy and just wore a dinner suit to sing in the voice he was blessed with. I know he wanted more than anything to be recognised as a great voice but he had to don the persona to be noticed in the first place. Its kind of sad but its certainly true that image sells first in most cases and the inditement is of the audience not the performer. In my opinon.


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