Glee at Dodge Theatre

Lady Gaga is a free bitch, baby.

Bitch. Bitch. Bitchhhhhhhh.

You would not know that from last night's world premiere of the hit Fox musadramedy Glee's touring stageshow at Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, where a cadre of stars from the show reprised "Bad Romance" dressed in some of Lady Gaga's famous space-agey outfits, including that awesome bubble dress. That was pretty cool -- possibly the most fun moment in a night that had more than a few fun and entertaining moments. Uncool? Sanitizing the hit song's refrain to "I'm a freak... baby."

Sure, the show later featured a (not explicitly worded) joke about jacking off hobos in a boxcar -- somehow, in the V-chipped alternate universe the adoring (most teenage) crowd inhabits, it's the word "bitch" that needs to be censored. Never mind that substituting "freak" for "free bitch" is lazy and obvious and changes the meaning of the entire song.

I was kinda feeling the show up until that point. Not after. Do the "Gleeks" -- their word, not mine -- really need everything to be dumbed down and slathered with Purell? I thought this show was supposed to be the smarter, edgier successor to American Idol?

Maybe it seems ridiculous to get bent out of shape about a simple radio-edit, but it really bothered me. Something about taking such liberties with one of the greatest pop songs of the last year seems wrong to me in a way that most of the dozens of other karaoke covers in the show didn't.

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Personally, I think there's such a thing as "too soon" for a cover. And if you insist on covering a song while the album the song came from is still on the charts you have an obligation to honor its integrity by avoiding a ham-fisted change to the lyrics aimed at appeasing... ummm... show choir loving Mormons? I thought Glee was supposed to be an integral part of the ultra-Leftist Gay Agenda? The cast won't sing "bitch?" What kind of bullshit is that?

The thing is, if you wanna sing Gaga's songs, you should sing them the way the lady intended. I mean, if a song is old and established, then, sure, fuck with it. "Sweet Caroline," which was sung by the mini-mohawked character Puck, for example, has been fair game for 30 years. They sing is at The Big Bang dueling piano bar every night. So, yeah, do whatever with it now. However, when Elvis covered the song a year after its release, he didn't change the damn lyrics.

Lady Gaga, unlike Neil Diamond, is still making her own relevant and important artistic statements. Can we let her do her own reinterpretations a few times before turning the leeches loose, cutting out the naughty words and Kidz Bopping it?

(I say this with the full knowledge that Kidz Bop has already done Gaga's "Paparazzi.")

The Glee cast took less liberties with Madonna's "Like A Prayer" (standard church choir arrangement) and Generation X's "Dancing With Myself" (the geeky kid in an argyle sweater who is in a wheelchair sang it just like that band's singer, Billy Idol) which are controversial in their own ways since, ya know, one got Madge axed from a Pepsi contract and the other is about masturbation.

Gaga deserves better than the "freaking" she got from Glee. So does Beyonce, who's "Halo" was chopped into a 30-second snippet they might not even have to pay for. B did the same thing to her Destiny's Child girls on her last tour, so fair's fair, but it still left a salty taste in my mouth.

Sorry, bitches, but that was too much for me to overlook in Glee. Please let me know when this themed cover-song franchise thing is sufficiently progressed to allow a little light profanity.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Glee Live at Dodge Theatre.

Better Than: Being caught in a bad romance.

Personal Bias: My high school did not have a show choir (to the best of my knowledge, anyway) so the interaction between all the characters seems a little bit forced to me.

One More Thing: It seems to me that Glee creator Ryan Murphy is way out of line in taking a Newsweek writer's words waaaay out of context and calling for a boycott of the magazine.

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