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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Party in Grinnell, IA

There’s no way you never got the memo—for the past few weeks it has been virtually impossible to walk down a loggia on a weekend without overhearing the voices Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus. Lyrics from “Bad Romance” are now featured on the wall of Burling’s 3rd floor bathroom, Drag Show ended with a “Party in the USA,” the last issue of the S&B included a comic giving thanks for the “campus-wide obsession” with Lady Gaga and Alexander Rich-Shea ’12 recently shaved “Gaga” into his buzz-cut.

This week, the S&B wonders why the f*** “Bad Romance” and “Party in the USA” are so popular?

“Bad Romance… it’s just crazy. It does something to you. Really. It won’t get out of my head. I haven’t slept in days. It’s ridiculous,” John Burrows ’10 said. Latona Giwa ’10 echoed Burrows’ obsession. “It is heinous but addicting,” she said.

Part of Lady Gaga’s popularity has to do with her often-surprising appearance, and the unbelievable, though incomprehensible, music videos she creates. “I especially like the [“Bad Romance”] video, it’s very subversive, it’s very exciting, lots of crazy dances. I’m still trying to deconstruct the actual message behind it,” Ragnar Thorisson ’11 said.

The video has gone viral across the country, and has especially infected the Grinnell student body. “I think college campuses are conducive to viral videos,” Alana Vogel ’12 said. “[They are] contained environments where such artistry is appreciated.”

While both songs are rampant on campus, there are significant differences between the obsession with “Bad Romance” and “Party in the USA”. Many students see Lady Gaga as an authentic entertainer, because of her self-written songs and individual style.

“Students in my Chaucer Seminar are talking about Lady Gaga,” Tim Arner, English, said. “I thought that they were joking–that they like Lady Gaga ironically, but it turns out that they actually like her.” Students themselves are surprised at the vigor of their obsession–what began as an ironic appreciation has turned into a genuine love.

“I think I might actually like [“Bad Romance”]. Not just, ‘Ha, ha, it’s cool to like it. I think I might actually like it. It’s scary. What have I become?” Burrows asked.

Grinnellians seem to truly adore Lady Gaga, even as they joke about it. Accepting our love for “Party in the USA” is a little more difficult, because that means admitting teen queen Miley Cyrus might have something legitimate to offer.

“It’s not as open… People are a little more hesitant to admit they like Party in the USA as much as they like Lady Gaga,” Ryan Carlino ’10 said. The song is pretty catchy–“ noddin’ my head like yeah, movin’ my hips like yeah”–people can’t ignore it even if they try to.

“I really don’t like Miley Cyrus, but I find myself humming that song and I don’t even have it on my computer,” Susanna Moller ’12 said, bringing up a sentiment that many others on campus share. It’s almost as if Miley has hypnotized us with her patriotic message and short denim skirt. “She does have a lot of popularity, even internationally, and I don’t know why… But I’m listening to ‘Party in the USA’ right now,” Chloe Sikes ’10 said.

Even as we accept “Party in the USA” as a necessary part of our daily lives, we’re not ready to admit that to the world. “I’m going to pretend I don’t know the name of it and haven’t listened to it a hundred times on my iPod,” Vogel said. “Her target market is certainly not college students. The fact that I enjoy things that my eight-year-old sister scoffs at is kind of embarrassing.”

Perhaps Miley’s appeal to the teeny-boppers is exactly what makes her attractive to us, a generation brought up on Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Backstreet Boys. Being able to return to this optimistic, if simplistic, universe makes “the butterflies fly away.” “It’s spreading hope to the community. Miley Cyrus is amazing,” Thorisson said. “Everyone loves to party in the USA.”

“Bad Romance” also speaks to a universal experience. “We are all caught in a bad romance,” Winsome Eustace ’12 said.

What remains to be seen is if the intense popularity “Party in the USA” and “Bad Romance” enjoy will be here to stay, or if our obsessions are momentary.

“The Miley Cyrus thing, I don’t know. I mean, the song’s catchy and cute enough, but in a year I don’t think there will be anyone listening to it anymore,” Arner said. “There will be a new sixteen-year-old with a new pop song.”

Even if entertainment machines like the Disney Channel keep making new pop stars, that doesn’t mean we can’t keep the old—the ever-enduring Britney Spears being the perfect example. Burrows admitted that these songs have potential. “It’s possible that ‘Bad Romance’ or ‘Party in the USA’ could be a new Harris classic, similar to ‘Single Ladies’ or ‘Poker Face’… ‘Call On Me,’ ‘Tunak Tunak Tun,’ ‘Like A Prayer’… We just have to wait and see.”

Like these classics, “Bad Romance” and “Party in the USA” have brought Grinnell together. “I like going around and hearing people be really happy when they sing it,” Carlino said, “It’s like unity.”

After all, as Alex McConnell ’12 put it, these songs are “Miley entertaining.”

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