Lady Gaga: British Wanna-Be, or Just Tragic Over-Enunciator?

Chris Willman
Stop The Presses!

People may be "born that way" when it comes to sexual orientation, but Lady Gaga definitely can't put the fluidity of her accent off to anything having to do with circumstances of her birth.

For years now -- which is saying something, given how short her stardom has really been -- the web has been filled with fans and detractors posting queries with headlines like: "Why is Lady Gaga speaking British?" and "Lady Gaga's accent: wtf?" That tradition won't be stopping any time soon, thanks to the lengthy spoken-word introduction to her new video, "Marry the Night," in which Gaga speaks in something that is not quite an English patois but still seems an Atlantic ocean away from anything resembling her native New York-ese.

You can also catch her current mode of elocution in her reading of the introduction she contributed to a new book of photographs of... well, herself, naturally:

Now, Gaga hasn't crossed the line into full-on Madonna-esque delusionality when it comes to a sense of vocal national identity. Some commenters would contend that she isn't going all Brit-talk on us... just speaking in an overly careful and formal manner, perhaps after studying some of her early on-camera interviews and recoiling.

But clearly, she's trying to distance herself from her linguistic roots, in tone as well as the shedding of the "y'knows" and "likes" that notably peppered her earliest interviews. By 2009, New York magazine was already noting that Gaga was speaking in "a robotic, faux-English monotone" in their conversation with her (which wasn't even for broadcast, but a seemingly casual backstage print interview).

If you want to hear how the artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotta sounded back in 2005, when she made a cameo in the MTV prank show Boiling Points, you can find her real (or at least erstwhile) voice here:

It's not as if Gaga is above being deliberately playful with her choice of accents, as in the exaggerated New Jersey-ism the Jo Calderone character she tried out (and arguably wore out the welcome of) throughout September's MTV Video Awards telecast. So maybe her stiff formality when she's playing herself these days is just an adopted persona she'd cop to, as well.

Earlier this year, the Daily Mail in England reported that Gaga had instructed her attendants on her tour there to only speak in a British accent... but that she'd specified only Cockney accents. If that's true, she has a self-conscious sense of humor about it... unless we see her talking like Dick Van Dyke in "Mary Poppins" in her next video.

Or maybe, after getting a gander at herself on camera earlier in her career, she just decided to stop—in the immortal words of the Three Stooges—"moidering the King's English!" If so, that's an adherence to higher standards that we, as Americans, would understandably mistake for Anglophilia.

Here she is, captured in the last stages of her still-proud-to-be-a-New-Yorker period:

What do you think? Is Gaga following Madonna's lead once again, with her cross-oceanic affectations? Or is she simply putting some gentlewomanly elocution lessons to use?

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