At what point do you become your own woman? That seemed to be the question Lady Gaga was asking Zane Lowe on the DJ’s Beats 1 radio show on Thursday (Oct. 20), when the veteran interviewer probed into a clearly sensitive area during their in-studio chat. Sitting in to promote her fifth album, Joanne, which drops on Friday (Oct. 21), Gaga had a very direct, unequivocal answer when Lowe tried to once again tie Gaga’s career arc and origin story to that of Madonna.
“There is another artist who has lived a very parallel existence,” Lowe said as Gaga appeared to look on incredulously. “Based on this story, which I’m sure you can relate to. You know Madonna tells a very similar story… overprotective father… ‘Papa Don’t Preach.’ You know what I mean.”
Rocking in her chair, Gaga calmly responded to the latest attempt to link the two women in the popular imagination. “Madonna and I are very different,” she said, shaking her head and pointing a finger as an awkward silence ensued. “Just sayin’,” Lowe responded. “Just sayin’,” Gaga repeated as Lowe laughed awkwardly and the singer’s eyes appeared to get flinty.
“I wouldn’t make that comparison at all. I don’t mean to disrespect Madonna… she’s a nice lady. And she’s had a fantastic, huge career. She’s the biggest pop star of all time,” Gaga said. “But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours and hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer. I’m a writer. What I do is different.”
Since the beginning of her career, Gaga has faced repeated attempts to goad the two pop stars into some kind of feud, efforts some have tagged as a sexist troll aimed at pitting two highly successful, creative women against each other for entertainment value. “We live in a world where people like to pit women against each other,” Madonna said last year while promoting her Rebel Heart album. “And this is why I love the idea of embracing other females who are doing what I’m doing. It’s important for us to support each other.”
Madge then went on to explain that the only time she criticized Gaga was when she felt that the singer had “blatantly ripped off” one of her songs [referring to the similarities between “Express Yourself” and Gaga’s “Born This Way”], which had nothing to do with “‘she’s taking my crown’ or ‘she’s in some space of mine.’ She has her thing.”
For her part, Gaga dismissed the comparisons between the songs as “ridiculous,” telling the NME at the time, “I’m a songwriter. I’ve written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a song and think I’m getting one over on everybody? That’s retarded… What a completely ridiculous thing to even question me about… If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It’s the same one that’s been in disco music for the last 50 years.”