Love them or hate them, alter egos are everywhere now. It’s not simply about the music anymore, so many artists have created an alternative character to their already well known selves to perform through. At first these alter egos were created to allow the artist to experiment with different styles of music. Take Beyonce’s album “I am…Sasha Fierce” for example. This was presented on two discs, the first, “I am”, brings us the deep and soulful ballads we know Beyonce for, the second, “Sasha Fierce”, introduces the“aggressive, strong and sexually confident” side of Beyonce with more upbeat pop songs such as “Single Ladies (Put a ring on it)”.
The country singer Garth Brooks created his alter ego Chris Gaines to dabble in the more rock & roll side of music, releasing entire albums under Chris’ name.
However some artists have created interesting alter egos for what appears to be nothing but fun. Eminem (Marshall Mathers’ rapper stage name) created the alter ego of Slim Shady to be his foul mouthed evil counter part. Katy Perry revealed her geeky alter ego “Kathy Beth Terry” in her video “Last Friday Night (TGIF)”, she even promotes the facebook page and twitter account she created for her character.
Nicki Minaj presents us with the alter ego of “Roman Zolanski” her twin “born inside of her out of rage”. She fuels her blog with the rich back story of her gay male alter ego who she “becomes when angry”. She writes; “he has 2 more weeks in boarding school. we’re going to pick him up now. when he lands, he will address the nation in the form of music.”
Lady Gaga also provides us with a male alter ego, this time being in the form of the heavy drinking, chain smoking “Jo Calderone”. What started off as an attempt to “shift the world’s perspective of what’s beautiful” by performing in drag has become a dedication to the role. Starting Calderone’s own twitter and featuring him in videos and performances has now progressed to performing, presenting an award and even accepting an award (on Gaga’s behalf) at the MTV Video Music Awards 2011. Gaga stayed in character throughout the show, not just for the cameras, as she used the male restrooms throughout.
So why do artists feel the need to create these detailed and complex characters to perform through? For some it is still about the music, to venture into different styles and genres without scaring off hard core fans. Beyonce stated in an interview “Sasha Fierce allows me to differentiate between what I do onstage from who I really am”. Nicki Minaj admitted that she often imagined fictional characters to live her life through as a way of escaping her chaotic home life as a child and these have grown up with her.
But whether they were created to bring us different genres of music, for celebrity sanity, to make a statement about beauty or just for our entertainment, as long as the music is still good, should we really care? But the question is; how much further can dedicated artists, like Lady Gaga, take their alter ego and is there such a thing as too far?