Grace Jones vs. Lady Gaga: 'I wouldn't go to see her'

grace-jones-lady-gagaImage Credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images; Scott Gries/Getty ImagesLady Gaga may adore cult pop icon Grace Jones, but Ms. Jones won’t picking up her t-t-telephone calls any time soon.

The 61-year-old Jamaican-born model/actress/fashion radical, best known as a club performer, Warhol muse, Bond girl, hair maverick, and all-around fabu freakshow, was recently asked by London’s Guardian newspaper what she thought of the world’s current preeminent mistress of carcinogenic eyewear. Jones’ reply? “I really don’t think of her at all. I go about my business … I wouldn’t go to see her.”

And would they ever work together? “She did [ask], but I said no. I’d just prefer to work with someone who is more original and someone who is not copying me, actually.”

Mild-ish words, actually, from the woman who gave the world Strangé—and one wonders why she doesn’t call out her other obvious acolyte, Rihanna—but she can hardly be blamed for drawing the comparison.

And Gaga’s genealogy has never been much of a mystery: She is unabashedly built from the DNA of many stars who came before her—including but not limited to Madonna, David Bowie, Roisin Murphy, Prince, Cher, Labelle, Freddie Mercury and of course the original cult-of-personality maestro himself, Mr. Warhol.

Like the recent M.I.A.-chugs-the-Lady-haterade episode, this one will surely be met by Gaga loyalists‘ insistence that the Lady is, like, ten billion times more amazeballs than Jones, who is just too jealous/old/All About Eve-ish to acknowledge her younger and more commercially successful rival.

If they do, they may be touching on some truth (sometimes, Strangé get cranké), but they’re missing the larger point: Gaga, definitively, could not exist without Jones, Madge, and Mercury, and she seems very much aware of that. In fact, she acknowledges them ad nauseum in her album liner notes and interviews and in, basically, the way she lives her outsized life-as-performance-art existence (bedazzled face crustaceans for brunch! Personal head planetarium for Ellen!) every day—if not in the fairly straightforward and markedly commercial (much more, at least, than Grace’s ever were) pop songs that anchor it all.

If progenitors like Jones are sometimes a little bothered that Gaga sails so easily down the far-out road they paved—and with a much fatter wallet tucked in her triangle pants—is that jealousy, or just humanity?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (108 total) Add your comment
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  • alex

    you make this point in the article, but gaga has always seemed very open about who she is influenced by (all of the listed above). I think though what makes her feel so “unique” is that no one else is taking those risks in their look/performance/image. She acknowledges who her influences are and there’s nothing wrong with taking from great performers of the past years. She’s great and so much more fun than most of what is out there in this genre

    • alex

      oh and she can actually SING

    • rebecca

      It’s amazing how fast the media can take a harmless opinion and make it out to be some kind of feud or claim that someone like Grace Jones would be jealous of Gaga. Come on Leah Greenblatt, why the knee jerk reaction to stir up something that never existed? Do you need readers that badly? I hope for once that Gaga fans don’t take the bait but extinguish this fake feud.

      • J

        Leah is *not* trying to stir up a feud. As you can tell, the stance of the writer is rather middle ground. Plenty of articles will be taking one side or the other, so it’s nice to read something that takes both sides into account.

      • rebecca

        J, where is the balanced view or even proof in this statement:-

        “f progenitors like Jones are sometimes a little bothered that Gaga sails so easily down the far-out road they paved—and with a much fatter wallet tucked in her triangle pants—is that really jealousy, or just humanity?”

      • Richard

        i did read the article. “someone who is more original and someone who is not copying me” – that’s not a dis? maybe you should have read the article…

      • Nick T

        Because it sounded kind of mean. I can’t believe Grace would do this to me. I mean Gaga.

      • Kelly

        Well said Rebecca! Monsters are as unique as GaGa because she inspires something I think is much larger than this.

    • clanceyjoe

      Grace Jones can say whatever she wants, she has earned it. Also, I have read some other comments on other pages about this topic and its pretty hillarious. Grace, left the music world out of disgust. She is not a has been, she never will be. Grace does her projects with style and grace. SHe does not have to be on every website making everyone sick everytime they see her name. I am still waiting for a promo to show up on the IRS website for that Marketing tramp. VIVA LA GRACE JONES, anyone else is a coat chaser…(and by the way the little marketing tramp also stole from Leigh Bowery).

    • Lla

      There is everything wrong with “taking”, and from several artists, without really being artistic. The Originals actually took the risks, Gaga is taking no risk. It only looks like that to those who don’t know what went on before.

      Cop out. Baloney.

  • Chichi

    Grace Jones had a much harder hill to climb than Lady Gaga and it is as simple as that. Not only was Grace Jones an androgynous wonder in the age of excess, she was a BLACK androgynous wonder. She went above and beyond being a stigma of night clubs and reached into cultural and sexual relevance when the gay community was going through major changes.

    No matter how hard Lady Gaga tries, she has to realize you can’t start a revolution if you don’t have anything to fight for … she’s just all surface and no substance.

    • A

      She has plenty of substance.

      • Lla

        Where ?

    • Delon

      Let me put it to you this way: NEITHER GRACE JONES NOR MADONNA ARE A PASTICHE OF SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEAS.

    • Kelly

      You best buckle in for a long ride… GaGa is just getting started, does not give a fff**k what you or anyone thinks and her substance will prove it’s self revolutionary. GaGa is not “trying” to start one, she is one and you will most measuredly see her substance on the surface very soon.

      • Lla

        She is not revolutionary, her music is 80s Elton John and 90s Eurotrash, what is revolutionary there ?

        And what is revolutionary about, like someone said, being a pastiche “OF SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEAS” ?

    • travis

      you’ve said it all. there’s absolutely no comparison. gaga is the product of this day and age: a sum total of what was done before her and at great cost. visually. as for the voice, it’s just synthesized duck, hardly a novelty. grace went overboard saying what she said. but then again she was never known to be sensible.

  • Vivi

    The funny thing is, as Leah stated, Ga Ga has always given props to Grace Jones. Always. Ms. Jones comments would be relevant if Ga Ga said that her whole image was created by her and her only. Of course, that’s not the case. If anything, Ms. Jones should be appreciative that Ga Ga and a host of others look up to her and try to mimic her style. It’s a compliment, Ms. Jones! Weird. At least Ga Ga gave her props unlike a certain artist that totally RIPPED the style and music of Kelis and till today has yet to own up to it.

    • Anonygirl

      This is true. Gaga has never hidden the fact that Grace Jones, Madonna, and other divas have influenced her.

      I am sure the so called feud is feed by the media and twisted to look like she is disliked by Grace.

      • Anonygirl

        “fed by the media…”

    • Matt

      Yeah, GaGa is virtually ensuring that the next generation will know who Grace Jones even was! Otherwise, what did she leave us that digital kids will recognize? She was a Bond Babe – ok. But she never had a radio hit that anyone would know. Jones might not want to ever see GaGa or work with her, but she could acknowledge the genuine admiration GaGa has expressed for her.

  • Gregoire

    Yes, Gaga, is open about who she is ‘ripping off’ which means its not ‘ripping off’ at all. Kudos to Gaga and too bad for that hasbeen clown Grace Jones who is totally unknown to a legion of Gaga fans and will apparently stay that way.

    • Jenna

      I have to disagree with you. Ripping someone off is ripping someone off, even when you’re honest about it. If you stole an item from a store, say, and then bragged to your friends that you stole said item, it’s still stealing, regardless of your honesty.

      What the comments here are failing to address is the article’s central question. It’s impossible for Grace Jones–or the late Leigh Bowery–to become a celebrity in the same way Lady Gaga has. Gaga has certain things that make her palatable to a general audience. She’s young, she’s white, she’s thin, she’s able-bodied, she’s an American. Gaga draws on and perhaps even “rips off” elements from Jones’ and Bowery’s art, but she’s still able to be a mainstream celebrity because of the privileges she is afforded. We’re comfortable with Gaga, because, beneath all the dressings, she’s an able-bodied, thin, feminine, white woman. We wouldn’t respond to another performer who didn’t have those qualities.

      I’m a HUGE Gaga fan, so don’t reduce my comment to being a hater. I just want to acknowledge that the article has a point about Grace Jones. Her words show that it’s more complicated that simple catty jealousy.

      • Truthfully

        What about Rihanna? she’s not white and has achieved greater success then Ms Jones or Leigh Bowery, and she clearly has taken things from both of their handbooks and to my knowledge never acknowledged it! Gaga is more popular because the song quality is better! I do not believe it has anything to do with race! How else do we explain phenomenons like Michael Jackson or Prince!

      • Kev

        How about Beyonce? Could she get away with doing what GaGa does?

      • A

        the undeniable fact is that she’s far, far more interesting than her contemporaries. Beyonce is completely without personality other than “attractive Christian lady who’s married to Jay-Z and sings good,” and Rihanna has been doing a far more paltry Grace Jones impression for the last year and a half.

      • Timothy

        I completely disagree with you about the thin white female thing. Rihanna is just as big as Gaga right now and has more hits and more digital download sales. She’s not thin or white. Grace Jones and Rihanna are more iconic and groundbreaking than Lady Gaga ever will be. Unfortunately for LG, she will forever be overshadowed by Madonna. Poor girl should have carved her own style, to bad she copies everyone in a desperate attempt at originality. At least when Madonna does her thing it has an overall direction and purposeful concept. LG’s stuff is way too contrived and she tries way too hard. Throwing everything, including the kitchen sink in an attempt to be cool or innovative is ridiculous. Grace Jones is an original icon. Just like Madonna she will be remembered forever. Grace Jones did not slag LG off at all. In fact, very classily, she said that she “doe’s not think of her”…she also says she wouldn’t work with her because she wants to work with more original artists who could teach her a thing or two, not someone who was shadowing her. Grace says outrageous things but she is certainly not disrespectful or jealous. Trust me, Lady Gaga’s success is a fluke in the history of pop music. She is the unattractive, skinny freak show art chick from high school who suddenly became the next Madonna….I don’t get it. Madonna’s innovations are vastly superior to Lady Gaga’s imitations.

      • A

        @Timothy.

        Lady Gaga beat out Rihanna in almost everything and Rihanna has been in the business longer.
        Rihanna will also be forever overshadowed by Madonna and everyone else.

        And at least Gaga’s talent is raw, and renewable. She can write and compose her songs, not to mention SHE CAN ACTUALLY SING.

        Lady Gaga wipes the floor with Rihanna.

      • Orville

        I agree with Jenna her analysis is correct. Lady Gaga gets a lot of press not just because she is talented but also because she is white. I also agree with M.I.A. and I am proud of her for being honest. There is nothing special about Lady Gaga she is a Grace Jones and Madonna wannabe.
        Maybe Grace Jones is just being honest although blunt. The media are acting like this white girl Lady Gaga is the best thing since slice bread and it’s like get real!

        White artists have always appropriated from black culture for decades from Elvis Presley to Justin Timberlake to Nelly Furtado. However, when a black artist tries something different they often don’t get “big” or the recognition they deserve.

        For instance, I think Lady Gaga she is copying Kelis as well. Kelis has been around since 1999 when Lady Gaga was in diapers.

        Lady Gaga has white female skin privilege which means she is palatable to the masses. It’s just like this new white boy Justin Bieber. There is nothing special about that kid he’s obviously been influenced by Usher but the media are acting like that white boy is something special.

      • Viola

        Gaga is talented, but let’s not act as though she would have been just as huge if she were black. She wouldn’t. Britney and Gaga got recognition in just one year into their first album. It took Beyonce and Rihanna a few. Grace Jones never had any commercial success, whereas Madonna is one of the most successful female artists of all time. And like Orville pointed out, prior to Elvis and The Beatles, rock n’roll music was mainly known as “n*gger music”. Let’s not kid ourselves, race DOES play a role here. Another factor here is promotion. Gaga is backed by a label that basically molded her image and sound. Prior to being signed, she was indie rock artist with no interest in pop music. The she meets with Rob Fusari (the guy that’s suing her), who convinces her that she can be more popular doing pop. There is something about her that feels contrived and fake. She’s clearly a product, but one that is sold under the “she can sing, write her own songs and play an instrument” package so that no one can question her credibility. The people at her label are very smart, they know what they’re doing. BTW, a real musician SHOULD know how to sing, write or play an instrument. If you can’t do any of the three, then you’re not a musician, period. Tons of artists out there sing, write their own material and play instruments, not to mention make great music, but get no love from the mainstream world. Everyone behaves as though Gaga is the first to do all of these things.

    • Lla

      “Yes, Gaga, is open about who she is ‘ripping off’ which means its not ‘ripping off’ at all.”

      What a load of bull. It’s still ripping off.

  • I wonder…

    Has Grace seen an up-tick in album sales since Gaga has come out singing her virtues? If so, maybe she should give a little thank you to her. It’d be interesting to look at GJ sales before and after Gaga coming on the scene.

    • Ethan

      Honestly I’d doubt it. Can you name a Grace Jones song? Jones was more of an icon for style than music. And I doubt even she ever wore a dress made of Kermit the Frogs. Still, I’d agree that Jones would probably benefit by being grateful for being mentioned around an artist who’s contemporarily relevant instead of taking some weird umbrage at Gaga being popular.

      • Viola

        Grace inspired Gaga, so why would Grace be grateful for an imitator getting popular off of her ideas?

      • frankie

        my jamaican guy, pull up to the bumper, nightclubbing, slave to the rythem,la Vie en rose, love is the drug, Grace Jones’s music is as classic and creative as she was- PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH before you speak about this woman! Why do you think GaGa looks up to her in the first place. No one could ever be like her-

    • Truthfully

      That’s funny you would ask that because I recently looked up Grace after I heard about her Gaga comments and I have to say she is wonderful and I would buy her music! I have to admit though I prefer Gaga because her songs are more bubblegum and I love her lyrical content! Grace is cool though!

  • GJ

    Where is the fun in Grace Jones performing on stage/collaborating with Lady Gaga? So she could perform with her mini me? I can’t see anything good coming out of this. It would seem like a pathetic attempt on Jones’s part to stay relevant..but frankly I don’t think she cares as much.

    I would not be shocked if the “Haus of Gaga” goes online..looks at all the artists mentioned above (Roisin Murphy, Jones, Kerli..anyone else that is doing something fun or outlandish)& then does a slight variation on it.

    • Kev

      One thing that annoys me about GaGa, is that as much as she says there is room for everyone in the pop world, she is actually pushing everyone else out of it. She is trying to be everything so everyone likes her…so now, people like Kerli, Roisin Murphey or whoever have a harder time, because people think THEY are ripping off GaGa!

      • Nick T

        No one thinks anyone (except maybe Rihanna presently) is ripping off Gaga. The article even talks about how Gaga always reminds people of those who came before her.

      • Fatima

        Well now overzealous Gaga fans think anyone who is doing anything “weird” is stealing from her or trying to be like her. They’re doing it to Kelis right now and she’s been an oddball for much longer. Gaga hasn’t said this but a brain-dead sect of her fans have. They DO need to know Grace Jones before they look any more foolish acting like Gaga was the first person to put something weird on her head.

  • Chuckjones

    Interesting article with good points. Yes, Gaga and every current pop star stands on the shoulders of giants. What you don’t mention is that Jones, Madge, Mercury et al stood on giants as well. They didn’t invent costume or theatrical performance. (Madge, to her credit, has cited many inspirations – see her Wikki). Some early giants included these: Louise Brooks oozed sexuality in her style, but not in a comic book way like Mae West. For that, she was black listed from leading roles in American films. Betty Page shocked the 50′s. Liberace stood beyond the horizon of acceptable fashion and shined a light for gay flamboyance. They all suffered for their being pioneers. And where would female forward fashion be without Coco Chanel? Concerning Ms. Jones, many of her hits were songs written by other people. So, it seems odd for her to criticize anyone’s originality.

    • Kev

      Not to mention Kate Bush, the original queen of kooky.

    • KiKi

      Louise Brooks then went on to work with Fritz Lang in “Pandora’s Box”. She was a talented actress. Ms Jones is a talented actress, but also a powerful singer who had to fight through cultural barriers. She echoes Carmen Miranda MUCH more than the subtle style of Louise Brooks. Stefani is more like Mae West, and will be treated as such in the future. She is a cartoon that is getting very tiresome. Grace Jones is a woman who does not play “weird” to attract attention. She just IS. Get it?Bettie Page did not shock the 50s, as she was the Playboy Christmas centerfold of 1954. She was a traditional sex symbol, and yes, I know there were bondage photos in her past, but she really had personal demons that she had to deal with; that is what brought her down. She was conventionally beautiful. She has nothing to do with the style of Grace Jones, Carmen Miranda, Josephine Baker or any real image maker. Stefani is told what to do, as she was when her name was given to her. She is a savant.
      And buddy, if you believe Stefani wrote her songs, which are horrid compared to the brilliance of “Slave to the Rhythm”, “Nightclubbin’” etc I got some swamp land in Florida to sell you. Jones actually WAS a close friend of Warhol’s……she wasn’t told by a record company to use him for a reference.

      And Coco Chanel? Seriously? She had clean lines and a distinct look. She didn’t glue things to her face. Bottom line, she didn’t rub powder on her face and say she was fashion forward. She just WAS. If you gotta say it, you ain’t.

  • Richard

    i was a grace jones fan from way back. and i also like lady gaga. i think when someone like grace jones disses a younger artist, it shows a lack of class. and may even alienate her own fans. i mean, really, why be like that?

    • rebecca

      Grace Jones in no way dissed Gaga. Read the original article. There was nothing classless about Grace Jones’ comment even though it may appear to seem that way out of context. Gosh, having anything but a positive opinion about Gaga is like a crime these days.

      • Truthfully

        You don’t have to like Gaga, I think it’s just that Gaga fans are accused of being retarded when we stick up for her or talk about liking her because some people think she is a “poser”. The rhetoric is silly, on both sides! It’s also unnecessary!

      • 4rocket

        No offense, but Gaga fans for the most part are indeed insufferable. They speak of her like she’s some sort of deity, and if you don’t agree with the opinion that she is the greatest pop star/musician/fashion icon/whatever of all time, then you get called names by them. They’re right up there with Twilight and Adam Lambert fans, being objective isn’t their thing. Even if Gaga is humble, I really wish her fans would. There’s a difference between “die-hard” and “just plain crazy”. Gaga fans are very much the latter. And I don’t mean this to apply to ALL her fans, but most of them definitely match my description.

      • 4rocket

        * I really wish her fans would BE humble.

      • Nick T

        Hey, 4rocket, I am a Gaga fan (and a Grace fan) and what I do is present why I like her and if the other person still dislikes her, I say okay and end it. But I’ve never met a Gaga fan who is as ridiculous a Twi-hard.

      • A

        @4rocket

        That’s really biased. Everyone has die hard fans and she has garnered many of them but that doesn’t define there intelligence.

      • 4rocket

        @A:
        What part of “There’s a difference between “die-hard” and “just plain crazy” and “this does not apply to ALL her fans” did you not get? I am not stereotyping every Lady Gaga fan, just the many ones I’ve been unfortunate enough to come across.

  • aandw1991

    Pop music has been around for a long time now and there is very little that is “original” out there anymore. It is all a combination of what has come before, with hopefully a little originality and talent thrown into the mix. Lady Gaga is a good example of this. She takes from many pop stars who came before–a true chameleon–and turns it all into something exciting and “new”. Grace Jones did the same thing back in the 80′s. Can anyone imagine her success without David Bowie or LaBelle? Please.

  • talkin’

    Lady Gaga is now officially a Tall Poppy, the one others feel a need to cut down.
    Older artists dissing their admirers are just sad. Aside from several incredible photos, I know nothing of Grace Jones as an artist, her music, while long after Gaga’s photos fade her songs will be played and sung by subsequent artists. Measure for measure.

  • Krissy

    EVERYONE is inspired and influenced by those that came before them. (i.e. Josephine Baker–> Tina Turner –> Beyonce). That is ok! Art is simply being inspired by what came before you and putting your own twist on it, which is what Gaga is doing. Lady Gaga is doing so much MORE than just being influenced by Grace Jones, and it shows a lack of class to be so intimidated by the younger generation.

    Face it Grace, if Lady Gaga inspires on her fans to take a second look at your past work, that is good for you. Without that, you will just fade into history and won’t be remembered. Without young people referencing you, you wouldn’t be relevant.

  • verve

    GaGa said herself (about a year ago):
    “there is nobody ever in history quite like grace”

    I wouldn’t like to be slammed by an idol of mine just because I’m inspired by her.

  • Stephanie

    I really don’t see what Grace said that was that bad…come on, do you really blame her for being a bit put off that somebody copies her act and then gets more rich and famous than she ever was? Not going to lie, I’ve felt that way before. Grace never was as commercially popular as she should have been. You’re not going to hear people like Madonna (arguably GaGa’s largest influence) saying things like that, Madonna is the most successful female artist of all time. This is coming from somebody who is actually a fan of GaGa.

    With that being said, I think Rihanna copies Grace more than GaGa does. She’s clearly trying to fill the “Caribbean girl turns pop diva and style icon” void that Grace left. I mean, you can’t get any more of a Grace rip off than this: http://www.gossipbeast.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Vogue9.jpg

    • Nick T

      I can’t believe I’m gonna defend Rihanna, but your link doesn’t really count cuz that is a Steven Meisel shot Italian Vogue spread. Italian!

      • Stephanie

        True, but it looks EXACTLY like Grace’s old photos, right down to the makeup.

      • talkin’

        Italian – so?

    • Andy

      I AGREE !
      Grace must be envious of Lady Gaga’s success because if anyone deserves the wrath of Ms.Jones its Rihanna. Because at least GaGa acknowledges her idols and inspiration Rihanna just does it with NO substance.

      • 4rocket

        So everyone who doesn’t like Gaga must be jealous? Wow, that doesn’t sound biased at all…

    • 4rocket

      Rihanna has always been a poor man’s version of someone from the very beginning of her career, so it’s no surprise that she would rip off Grace Jones.

  • Journey

    Grace should take Gaga being influenced by her as a compliment. Rather than being bitchy for no reason at all. I dig Grace but she is not as talented as Gaga.

    • 4rocket

      “I dig Grace but she is not as talented as Gaga.”
      Still, Gaga got much of her style from Grace, so Grace certainly doesn’t owe Gaga anything.

  • Journey

    Oh and LMAO @ Gaga being influenced by Rosin. Sorry but No! Grace is also one who Roisin cites as an influence.

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