While I take a great deal of delight in my tastes in music, I know that they are untutored; and I am plenty insecure enough to be grateful for the validation of experts whenever I come across it. Here’s a very recent case in point: I’ve enjoyed immensely many of Lady Gaga’s songs, fully aware that this would condemn me in the eyes of the respectable as a hopelessly pedestrian Top 40 consumer, their tracing of a little square with their fingers searing me like a musical mark of Cain. (And not only that: My hope of ever getting a Christmas card from Camille Paglia will be extinguished forever.) But the new Rolling Stone Playlists issue has an amazing tribute to Lady Gaga, from none other than Elton John, who, in his listing of “Bad Romance” as one of his Top Ten “New Pop Classics,” writes the following:
Lady Gaga is a massive talent. I could have chosen “Telephone.” When I did the Rainforest benefit with Bruce Springsteen, he said, “’Bad Romance’ is such a great song.’” And I can hear him singing that. Musicians who write songs think she’s pretty damn good.
The old principle of securus judicat orbis terrarum is surely false: The orbis terrarum has, over the millennia, made countless wrong judgments, and the buying of zillions of Lady Gaga singles may theoretically be among them. Nor is the agreement of experts of the stature of Sir Elton H. John, CBE, and the Boss dispositive; experts, as well, have far too often been wrong. But while it’s a real thrill to enjoy something other people don’t, man is a social animal — and it warms his heart to see he’s not alone in his sympathies.