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Lady Gaga causes ruckus, again, over Super Bowl song
Superstar singer Lady Gaga has lit up Social Media with renewed speculation over why she included the word “Lebanese” in one of the songs she performed at the 51st (LI) Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, called “Born This Way.” The word popped up in a set of song lyrics (called a bridge) referencing victims of discrimination. What did she mean?
By Ray Hanania
Superstar singer Lady Gaga lit up Social Media with renewed speculation over why she included the word “Lebanese” in a song she released back in 2011 and that she performed at the 51st (LI) Super Bowl Sunday Half-Time show on Feb. 5, 2017.
The song is called “Born This Way” and the word “Lebanese” popped up in a set of song lyrics (called a bridge) referencing victims of discrimination.
The question “What did she mean?” has been renewed from when it was first asked when the song was released six years ago and was banned by the Lebanese government at the time.
It has sparked a huge debate on Social Media platforms like Google+, Facebook and Twitter, but the songstress has not commented publicly yet.
Lady Gaga’s performance at Sunday’s Super Bowl was roundly praised by everyone from politicians to sports figures for the very fact that it avoided the kind of controversy that past performances sought through controversial imagery.
Lady Gaga’s performance was all about entertainment and she began the spectacular show by asking everyone to enjoy themselves.
Here are the lyrics in question:
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen,
Whether you’re broke or evergreen.
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent,
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient.
Whether life’s disabilities,
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased.
Rejoice and love yourself today,
’cause baby you were born this way.
(This section of her song is called the “Bridge,” which denotes lyrics that are performed between the main lyrics and the chorus, or as a place where a songwriter expands on a theme in a different melodic manner sometimes)
What did she mean by including Lebanese? The song was originally banned in Lebanon in 2011 as the Lebanese government took offense to including the reference to “Lebanese” in her lyrics in the context of others being discriminated.
At the time, the Lebanese “General Secretary Department” criticized the song for being “anti-Christian,” and even fans of Madonna accused Lady Gaga of ripping off Madonna because the song sounded very similar to Madonna’s singing style. They called the song lyrics “bad taste.”
Lady Gaga wrote the song in 2010 and it became the lead single of her 2011 album of the same name, “Born This Way” which evolved out of her Monster Ball Tour.
She said it was intended to reflect empowerment for women and Gays and she said the song reflected who she is.
The song received high praise and was considered the fastest selling song on iTunes at the time, setting a new Guinness World Record. It won a 2011 MTV Video Music Award in the U.S. and in Europe.
Just hearing the word “Lebanese” made my ears perk up during Lady Gaga’s spectacular performance and it surprised many Arabs around the world who were unaware of Lebanon’s ban against Lady Gaga’s song in 2010.
Her performance was awesome and amazing. The fact that it avoided all of the politicization that many entertainers seek at high profile events like the Super Bowl, which attracted more than 114 million viewers just in the United States, made her performance so memorable and enjoyable. The coveted 30-second Super Bowl Ads reached a new record of $4.5 million each.
Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta to a Catholic family in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl L (50).
Personally, I didn’t know whether she intentionally meant to single out the Lebanese people and Lebanon, or just threw it in for rhythmic effect. Maybe she was trying to make a point about the Lebanese being more enlightened and opened than the rest of the Arab World. The Lebanese, though, have always been at the forefront of breaking barriers and in free expression, struggling in a Middle East that has increasingly seen religious extremism and repression dominate everyday events and the news.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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