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Blonde Ambition

Two pop stars with fake names, overdyed locks and outsize drives for courting controversy face off this month. Who will take home the crown of scorn?

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AFP/Getty Images (Eminem); Michael Buckner (Lady Gaga)

 

Lady Gaga and Eminem may not be the most eyebrow-raising music stars at the moment (that distinction probably belongs to Miley Cyrus), but between them, they’ve engendered decades of pearl-clutching. With Lady Gaga’s third studio album, Artpop, and Eminem’s eighth, MMLP2, hitting shelves (Nov. 5), we wonder who’s the rudest of them all. We’ll let you decide.

The Music

• Eminem has slammed everyone from George W. Bush to Christina Aguilera, but his most controversial lyrical moment was his description of doing away with his real-life wife in “Kim.” She sued him for defamation in 2000; it was later settled out of court.
• Critics began comparing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” to Madonna’s 1989 hit “Express Yourself” immediately after it was released. Madonna responded by performing a mashup of the two songs. They blended, er, seamlessly.

The Videos

• Even after his 2010 video for “Love the Way You Lie,” featuring Rihanna and Megan Fox, was denounced for depicting domestic violence, Marshall Mathers was able to top himself. His 2011 video for “Space Bound” included more domestic violence—against an adult movie star.
• Critics bashed the video for “Judas,” in which Lady Gaga tools around with biker gang disciples, dressed at first as Mary Magdalene and then in hardly anything at all. There was less of an outcry at the fact that the singer was tooling around without a helmet.

The Collaborations

• In the midst of tongue-wagging over his homophobic lyrics, Mathers paired up with Elton John, who is openly gay, to perform “Stan” at the 2001 Grammy Awards. After the performance, they held up their hands in solidarity—launching a legion of new tongue-waggers.
• Lady Gaga and longtime producer RedOne teamed up with Cher to create a song called “The Greatest Thing” for Cher’s most recent album. It went unreleased when Gaga decided she didn’t like it, but it was leaked to fans—who quickly realized it was not the greatest thing at all.

The Diva Moment

• At the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, Eminem was approached by “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” star Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. The rapper shoved the puppet aside and a member of his entourage scattered the comic’s notes. Later, Eminem insulted the electronic artist Moby onstage, calling him a “little girl.”
• Gaga didn’t hold back when a former assistant (and close friend) sued her this year for unpaid overtime. “She thinks she’s just the queen of the universe,” Gaga said about
her former friend. “And, you know what, she didn’t want to be a slave to one, because in my work and what I do, I’m the queen of the universe every day.” Yowza.

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