Emma Cowing: Shell-shocked by a world gone Gaga

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I WENT OUT for dinner the other night. As I did my make-up in the mirror, affixed my earrings in place and straightened my dress, I pouted dolefully at my reflection. There was something missing; a finishing touch. If only, I mused, I had a Gaga egg.

The Gaga egg, of course, is a relative newcomer to the world's lexicon. For those scratching their heads, a brief recap. Lady Gaga, who last year challenged the grounds of taste, decency and abattoir hygiene with a dress made entirely out of meat, turned up at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night in a person-sized egg. She was borne up the red carpet by several terrifying looking models who told all and sundry that Gaga was "in an embryonic state" and would be "born" later that night, before she duly hatched out on stage wearing a hat the size of a dinner plate.

So far, so Gaga. But which came first? Gaga, or the egg? Ever since Lady Gaga appeared on the music scene a couple of years ago, we have become accustomed to her outlandish outfits and over-the-top statements about creative expression. I know there's a school of thought that believes that she is somehow subversively clever and brilliant, and that to like Lady Gaga is to be terribly in tune with 21st century counter-culture as well as a particular brand of feminism, but frankly, I'm not buying it.

Now you may think that Lady Gaga is just a pop singer, but you'd be wrong. Right now, like it or not, she is one of the most powerful women on the planet. Forget Hillary Clinton, or the new president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, or, er, Nicola Sturgeon. Lady Gaga, or Stefani Germanotti, to give her her real name, has more influence than any of them.

She is the most popular user on Twitter, the social media network recently credited with igniting the fire that caused the Egyptian revolution. Every word is analysed by her millions of devoted fans (who she calls, for reasons best known to herself, her "little monsters"), something that can be dangerous when she announces - as she did this week - that she smokes cannabis while writing music.Then there is the product placement. Watch the video for Telephone, the single she produced with Beyonce, and you will see a disturbingly high number of product plugs. From Diet Coke to Virgin Mobile to Polaroid. The video is one big, long advert that says: "Want to look like me? Buy this." It's a seedy type of commercialism that seems entirely at odds with the type of creativity she claims to promote.

Meanwhile, she witters on about what a tortured artist she is, how hard she works at "being Lady Gaga", as if she were a pit pony off to do a 16-hour shift down a mine, rather than a pampered pop singer with an entourage the size of Nicaragua.

Her outfits meanwhile, are chosen to shock.While I'm no prude, and I can see that some of what she wears - like the silicone dresses made by Scottish designer Rachael Barrett for example - is incredibly fashion-forward, stylish and creative, there is also something ice-cold about it.

Her look is always immaculate and high maintenance - make-up that takes hours to get right, outfits that are extraordinarily expensive and often constricting, whether they be bondage-style corsets or shoes with eight-inch heels - all of it is clothing that objectifies and restrains. It is the very opposite of liberating.

Perhaps there is good reason for that however. Because it seems to me that Lady Gaga is wearing the most elaborate Emperor's new clothes we have seen in some time.

She is the ultimate triumph of style over content, and anyone who doesn't believe me should take a listen to her new single, Born this Way, which sounds, to my ears at least, like a Madonna song written by Justin Bieber.

Take away the eggs, the meat dresses, the huge heels and the expensive adverts masquerading as videos, and what you are left with is a young woman with an average voice, singing an average-sounding pop song. It's enough to make you go gaga.