The Grammys: Interpreting Lady Gaga's Red-Carpet Outfit

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 1 2010 10:14 AM

The Grammys: Interpreting Lady Gaga's Red-Carpet Outfit

Three moments from the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards:

—Next week, when struggling to contemplate the most deeply ill-conceived Super Bowl ads, remember that the accounting-software company TurboTax has set an awful mood-shattering standard for all other sponsorships to be judged against. The company attached its name and logo to the countdown clock on the TV Guide Network's red-carpet show, thus inspiring upper-back tension among viewers jarred by a ticking reminder of a federally enforced deadline. This is no way to treat people who merely want to see Taylor Swift answer the important questions: "How important is it to stay nice?  And how do you do it?! It's hard! "

—Stomping through her medley, Beyoncé followed her cover of "You Oughtta Know" with some dance moves further reinterpreting Alanis Morissette's female fury. On her two knees and her own terms, Beyoncé did a hair-tossing head-banging gyration. Cut to a shot of women wielding righteous brass in the horn section. Cut back to the singer, now swinging her mane like a weapon. She was an avenging-angel Ikette.

—While Oscar and Emmy trophies feature humanoid figures, Grammys of course represent obsolete playback devices. Lady Gaga surely had this in mind when shopping for her fabulously witty red-carpet outfit. Gaga's coup was to wear a dress that simultaneously honored the curves of a gramophone horn and gave her the aspect a futuristic humanoid statuette. Galactically cool within her deconstructed hoop skirt, she at once resembled Cinderella, Tinkerbell, and Cinderella Castle itself, starburst glinting hard beside an awesome architectural form.

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Troy Patterson is Slate's writer at large and writes the Gentleman Scholar column.