"[Gaga Stigmata has] very modern, edgy photography to free flowing, urban narratives without censure to analytical essays, et cetera—like Gaga, imagination without ... limits. And the beauty is that anyone can submit work to the site, so artists and writers from all over the [world] have joined this experiment." -The Declaration.org

"Since March 2010, [Gaga Stigmata] has churned out the most intense ongoing critical conversation on [Lady Gaga]."
-Yale's The American Scholar

Monday, May 17, 2010

On the Shared Sisterhood of Kate Bush’s “The Big Sky” & Lady Gaga’s “Dance in the Dark”

by Gina Abelkop

 All lines in italics are lyrics from the songs referenced in the title.


They look down at the ground, missing                         
But I never go in, now

Instead I go up.


Some girls won’t dance to the beat of the track

She is moving on the dance floor a slick shoot of sweaty pale-green light. All the navy sky above is rid of shitty dirt so she moves towards it with a consistency like churned, melting butter smeared on the underside of a rusty engine. We know (with our “intuition”) that the best use for long chemically-chewed-out hair is to throw it behind and forward and left and right and in every space between. Move it into every between space taken up by air before: make it hairspace. Now the hair moves away into another space. Now air is home again. Now her feet and thoughts are somewhere else, on the dance floor.


Tell ‘em, sisters/Tell ‘em girls

Up! Look up.

Look up.

The majority of her body is saying, with the same sound called “screaming” done by mutilated sisters, that fat shrill violette love sounding of Look Up.


I'm lookin' at the big sky
We know it, sister.


She’s a mess
She’s a mess
She’s a mess
She’s a mess

All this haggard, sweetie, soft withering, split like blubber, blue veined, stretching gnarled taut, sinister, dear angular, malleable oily, written over skin propelled towards the sky, and only sky. Guess what is waiting for us up there.


We're leaving with the big sky, honey

This is the one time when it is safe to get into the proverbial strange car.


Together we’ll dance in the dark

We’ve already been there. When you see her dancing…it is the same as watching a movie being re-broadcast on television, channeled through a computer. What you are seeing is not her dancing. She’s already been there. We are there right now, in the big sky busy finding fingers growing in the palms of our hands. Just as Emily promised to Susan all those years ago.


You want my reply?
Oh, what's the question?

Are you going to get in the car?


But she still kills the dance

Of course- that is why all the screaming.


Come on, build me an ark
And if you're coming, jump

It will be exactly like the dream you keep having over and over, the one you have while cold-sweating all over your softest sweatpants in the middle of the night. You’ll jump up and instead of slugging down again will continue up. The moon’s light will catch on your crystallized bones which you can see through your skin because you willed it so. All around prisms of light speculate about their own birth. Then they break off and are other things with tits on the dance floor, grooving around you like little happy mommies, so glad to have you home.


Tell ‘em how you feel girls!


* * *

Artist Statement:

Being a great admirer of both Gaga and Kate Bush’s music, I was struck one day while listening to “The Big Sky” by the idea that it was a sister to Gaga’s “Dance in the Dark.” Both songs address “girls” and “sisters,” communicate through song-tongue with the women who will be hearing the music while simultaneously conjuring those listeners within the distinct universes of the songs themselves. Gaga’s “Tell ‘em girls!” and Bush’s “Tell ‘em sisters!” are mirror images built around the destruction of loneliness.

Author Bio:

Gina Abelkop is a poet, free bitch and editor of Birds of Lace, a feminist press based in San Francisco. Her writing can be found or is forthcoming in Encyclopedia: Volume F-K, DIAGRAM, MiPoesias, Phoebe, Wicked Alice, Sawbuck, Cherry Bleeds, and 42Opus, amongst others. She wore crocheted hotpants to see Lady Gaga perform in December ’09 and it was true magic.


  1. I love Kate Bush and I love Lady Gaga! This post is true magic. ♥ ♥ ♥

  2. I have long felt Gaga picks up where Kate Bush left off.

    The idea of "Fame Monster" and Kate's last single "King of the Mountain" for example--wise and wry commentaries all.

    Hadn't thought of "The Big Sky."

  3. I get the aesthetic comparison, but musically I don't see the connection.

    Bush wrote fantastic, complex, and difficult melodies -- just listen to the amount of modulations she uses in The Man with the Child in his Eyes or Wuthering Heights. Gaga rarely steps outside a couple of repetitive notes and her progressions are virtually the same for each song.

    I'm not knocking Gaga -- her music is very simplistic for a reason (to be more palatable, marketable, and instantly memorable) and she does what she does very well. But Bush was so innovative in her composition that you can listen to her music today and acknowledge that no-one has really done anything like that since.

    Now if Gaga can write some strong music that doesn't rely on its production, she'd be onto something good. Lyrically, neither have done anything worthy of academic study.

  4. Lady Gaga and Kate Bush? Are you serious? That's like comparing V.C. Andrews to Virginia Woolf.

  5. Ummmm... isn't Dancein the Dark about having sex with the lights off because of fear of "exposing" themselves?

  6. I agree with the last comment. I've heard Gaga say that each track on "The Fame Monster" represents a specific fear and "Dance in the Dark" is the 'fear of self.' And it's a about a girl that only likes to have sex with the lights off because of her insecurity.

  7. I wouldn't put Lady Gaga in the same universe as Kate Bush. Kate is a musical genius who has written some of the most coplex and brilliant music of our times, Gaga does warmed-over disco pap and dresses provocatively to hide her lack of talent.


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