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Is Lady Gaga Better Than Taylor Swift?

Our Country

The 2010 Brit Awards--which, loosely, are the U.K. equivalent of the Grammys--are taking place today. If you are an overall music fan, you probably are interested in this ceremony, which will include performances from a wide range of current artists (Lily Allen, Lady Gaga, and Jay-Z among them).

Speaking solely as a country fan, however--it's probably not your glass of sweet tea. The distinctly American genre is, not surprisingly, not well-represented, save for a nomination of--who else?--the unstoppable Taylor Swift in the International Breakthrough category.

All fine and well. This isn't a show by which I had any country-leaning expectations. In fact, I wasn't thinking about it very much at all, until I came across this article on BlackBook.

Brace yourself, because it's going to be yet another tirade about Taylor Swift; except this one takes some new turns.

Starting off auspiciously with the headline: "Less Taylor Swift, More Lady Gaga: Why the Brit Awards Are Better Than the Grammys," the author points out that the Brit Awards are more relevant than the Grammys, because they are less influenced by hype.

Hey, fair enough. I'm shrugging my shoulders at that one. I'm the one who has stated a few times that it was craziness for the Dixie Chicks to sweep the Grammys in 2007--and I'm a country fan, for heaven's sake.

However, guess who is targeted as an artist "who only rose to prominence because of spectacle, not discernible talent"? I'll give you one chance to figure it out. Oh, Taylor Swift, right? Bingo!

What is particularly interesting about this piece is that the author notes that Swift is nominated in the same category as Lady Gaga, whom (I paraphrase) is a bona fide icon on both sides of the Atlantic (and apparently became this way without aid of spectacle). Whereas Swift is, in U.K. terms, "that bird who was upstaged by Kanye sometime ago." Or possibly, "a younger Shania Twain."

I did break into a smile at that. Anyone have Swift's international sales figures at their fingertips? What would Scott Borchetta say?!

Anyway. I'm not really quite certain why, except for their being nominated in the same category, the author of this piece chose to pit these two particular artists--Swift and Gaga--against each other. Sure, they are kind of the yin and yang of the current pop music scene, with Swift playing the princess and Gaga the freak. But, to put it bluntly, both are tremendously popular, both rely on massive exposure for this popularity, and both are debated as being overhyped.

They both also make extraordinarily accessible music. It is easy to find oneself humming, say, "You Belong With Me" without realizing what one is doing (and my 2-year-old daughter is currently obsessed with chanting the chorus of "Bad Romance"). I like both artists and easily see why they are appealing; also why they both turn many people off--for completely different reasons.

So, not really buying the argument of why more or less of Taylor Swift, or of Lady Gaga, makes for a better experience. Unless you have strong feelings one way or the other for either artist. Which a lot of people do, and that's cool, but I would think we're talking objective judgement, here.

And, well, I won't even get seriously into debate about the Brit Awards being better than the Grammys. I simply don't care too much about that particular comparison. Because, when it comes down to it, the Grammys still have something that gives them a powerful advantage in my eyes.

Can you guess?

Oh, right!

Country music!

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