Cherilyn Sarkisian and Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta were both born with unfortunately odd foreign names. But somehow, overcoming this handicap and adopting new monikers, Cher and Lady Gaga, respectively, both of these women grew up to be record-breaking Grammy-winning pop singers and songwriters. They also became gay icons, fearless fashion magnets, and philanthropists with arguably some of the largest cult followings of all time. And yet, as far as I can tell, no one has made any serious comparisons between the two. Lady Gaga has said she is inspired by David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, and Michael Jackson and has been likened to such singers as Debbie Harry, Grace Slick, Gwen Stefani, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, and Madonna. Now, I'm not even going to begin to say how furious this makes me on behalf of Debbie, Grace, and Madonna in particular (well, actually, I can't resist including this--in Gaga's own words--"presumptuous" quote in response to the Madonna comparison: "I don't want to sound presumptuous, but I've made it my goal to revolutionize pop music. The last revolution was launched by Madonna 25 years ago."), but what bothers me even more is that the musical audience and critics seem blind to the fact that the artist Lady Gaga has truly ripped off is Cher. She's a blonde knock-off.
Don't get me wrong, I'm actually a fan a Lady Gaga--to an extent. However, what I find most interesting about her is her incredible ability to adopt other singers' styles. She can get hip-hop with Beyonce, when performing "Speechless" live, she does Elton John almost better than Elton John. This sound imitation contradicts her hyped-up "unique and strange" image, of course, but I like it better that way. I just wish there would be some honesty behind it. Gaga's not "revolutionizing" anything, she's just vamping for a new audience who are too young to remember or know better. She's received perhaps the most attention for all of her out-there outfits, but Cher did it all before. Granted, Cher never wore a hair bow, but she created the no pants look in 1989 in her "If I Could Turn Back Time" music video, wearing not just no pants, but fishnets and a thong no less.
Yes, Gaga may currently have more buzz around her than Paris Hilton's cellphone on vibrate and sold over ten million albums and over 35 million singles worldwide, but Cher is the only female solo artist to reach the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 in each of the four preceding decades and the record for longest hit-making career span. Gaga's look is constructed. Her latex and lycra can easily be pealed off, her fake congealed blood chipped away, but Cher's costumes aren't costumes at all, they are her skin and no matter what, even the Fame Monster can't rip it off of her.