The twilight of Lady Gaga

By Razib Khan | June 23, 2013 8:59 pm

The other day my office mate wondered “what ever happened to Lady Gaga?” Obviously Lady Gaga is still around and making plenty of money, it doesn’t seem like she’s the pop culture phenomenon she once was. Of course you can live for decades off your early notorious culture changing explosion onto the scene. Madonna is proof of that. But it’s still of interest to know when someone is, or isn’t, the “It” thing. I don’t follow pop culture that closely, but I can say that I remember Gaga before she was Gaga. I was hanging out on the Lower East Side in January of 2006, and there were Gaga posters announcing her opening a show somewhere nearby. One of my friends was freaking out, because she was apparently a big deal. A few years later she did become just that. But somewhere along the way it seems that Lady Gaga has gone from the foreground to the background.

As is my wont I wanted to quantify this. I pulled Google Trends data for Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Adele from July 2008 to January 2013. I then plotted them with a loess smoothing function. You can see the results below. Nothing that surprising (though if you limit the search results to the United State Taylor Swift becomes a much bigger deal):

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Pop Culture
MORE ABOUT: Lady Gaga, Pop Culture
  • slartibartfastibast

    …you still haven’t answered my question.

    • razibkhan

      anyone who exhibits this demanding behavior (ie i *have* to answer their question as the top-of-my-task-stack) will get banned. just like now.

  • TheBrett

    That sounds about right on the Lady Gaga thing. Her latest album was released back in 2011, and that was also around the time when you had tons of Lady Gaga hit singles on the radio. Maybe she’s hit a dry spell, even if she’s still making a ton of money off of touring.

    • CWFMickey

      well I agree on the fact that her last album was awhile ago, but she does something that these mainstream artist don’t do these days which is actually ride an album till you cant anymore. She tours on one album for over a year. So she really gets everything she can out of it until nothing else is left! haha you know thats something the artist used to do back in the day! haha I research and saw justing beiber has already released like 5-6 albums! crazy. also, we haven’t seen her in a while because keep in mind she underwent leg surgery back in february.

  • Chad

    Isn’t this typical of artists whose fame is as based as much on shock value as quality? I enjoy a few of her more popular songs, but it always seemed to me that the driving force behind Gaga was the shock value. That sort of fame quickly fades as it looses its edge or people just get tired of the stunts.

    • oregonlocal

      “Isn’t this typical of artists whose fame is as based as much on shock value as quality?”

      Plenty of quality here:

      • Chad

        I don’t deny that she has talent, but lets be honest about the fact that shock value (both in her music and in the public stunts….meat dress anyone?) has been a major driving force in her fame.

        After a while the “shock” wears off and becomes more of a joke than anything. I’ve noticed a considerable amount of parody of juggalo’s the last couple of years. There is also considerable mockery of Gaga’s own stunts.

  • Truth

    She “faded away” deliberately. She even stated to Oprah last year that will be her last interview in a long time. She’s working on her new album and has been very quiet during that process, not going to any events, not doing interviews, etc. I think Lady Gaga is too intelligent to fade away into obscurity permanently though. When she releases her album she’ll be back on top again.

    • CWFMickey

      Lol, also the fact that she underwent a major surgery in February! haha

  • Gabriel

    Lady Gaga is just taking a break and playing it low after her hip surgery. She’s taking advantage of her open time of no performances so she can perfect her upcoming album ARTPOP. She just is focusing on bringing on the next big thing.

  • Gabriel Henriquez

    She suffered a labral tear, underwent surgery, and has been recovering for the past several months as she prepares to launch her new album ARTPOP later this year.

    Funny how someone can create a graph like the one pictured yet not stumble upon information about a person’s health.

  • Lady Gaga † Jeßica

    Her “free fall” started 2 years before her hip surgery. Can’t you all see that? After the release of BTW it’s down, down, down. :(

  • thoneellaneras

    I think that girl is smart..she single handedly changed pop music in a way not even madonna could have. Katy Perry Rihanna Nicki Minaj would not have the balls to wear bizarre clothes if not for Gaga. And when Gaga dressed up as a man while those girls outdid each other with wacky outfits she established just how shes always two steps ahead of everyone. I think she knows what shes doing…disappear for a while, keep public interest fresh and when she perfects her album it’ll be hard not to see her face everywhere.

  • montreal

    She has been muzzled by her owners for entering the political arena. Let this be a lesson to all “entertainers”. Entertain only. Last thing the world needs is a musician turned president like in Haiti lol!

  • Riordan

    Out of curiosity, I also did a couple of the “cousins” of those pop stars.


    Nicki Minaj


    Where Kesha showed the greater drop in hits, Nicki Minaj seemed to have peaked and now declining, and Rihanna largely stabilizing after a brief rise in 09 due to her fracas with Chris Brown. It’s interesting to see most of these major Millenial popstars either debuted or received considerable exposure during the “axial” years of 2007-2008 (Kesha and Minaj being exceptions), and then subsequently “peaking” c.2010-2011 and either declining or stabilizing thereafter. Comparing my listens of Top40 radio during 2008-2012, where the glitzy and decadent teen friendly pop dominated to the EDM influenced hip hop and breakout indie bands of now, and it really does seem to me that 4-5 year period was a musical bubble of sorts that has now “popped” .


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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