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Dear Stefani,

Do you mind if I call you that? I don't mean any disrespect, it's just I'm not very comfortable addressing people by their stage names. Plus, I figure even pop stars who wear dead muppets frocks and intergalactic head gear like to kick it old school once in a while, right?

You must be exhausted. What with your new single, The Edge of Glory, recently out and the rest set to debut on the social networking game Farmville (quite a gimmick, that), and Born This Way, your third album in three years launching later this month, to be followed by another world tour, no one would ever accuse you of being lazy. But when I read on Twitter that you'd stayed up all night after The Edge dropped this week, sobbing hysterically over the positive reaction from fans (your "little monsters" as you like to call them), it occurred to me that maybe it's time for a reality check.

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I know, I know, reality is not your bag. As you told a New York concert audience a couple of years back, "Lady Gaga is a lie. I am a lie and every day I kill to make it true."

I'm not going to pretend to understand exactly what means, except to say that if you were hoping to impress upon people the full extent of your freakiness you have succeeded - but only to a point.

Because here's the thing about true eccentrics: They don't go around telling everyone how weird they are all the time. Quite the opposite in fact - the most truly original and off-beat artists I can think of behave as if they are the normal ones and the world is completely mad. Have you never read Alice in Wonderland? Or an interview with Joni Mitchell or Patti Smith? Now there are two incredible broads who never had to resort to wearing a meat bikini on the cover of Japanese Vogue to get their particular brand of crazy genius across.

I know you are cosmically connected to your fans, so I thought you might appreciate the feedback. I used to really dig you. I loved the way you pounded away at the piano like Liberace in a see-through bubble dress. I admired how you beat the drum for gay rights. I was amused by the disco-ball muumuu and the blood-spurting MVA performance that left you looking like a demented singing tampon. I once heard a Swahili cover version of Poker Face blasting from a truck in the mountains of Tanzania and I was happy for you, I really was.

But the variety show act, as entertaining as it was, is starting to get a little stale. One can't help but wonder, as a self-described "music, art and sex" celebrity, what are you planning to do next? Perform nude in North Korea? Have a lesbian love affair with Bristol Palin? Transition species?

Don't forget that those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s have seen most of this stuff before with Madonna - a performer who at least had the dignity to go off and do yoga for a couple of years before reinventing herself as a dance-club diva.

That's the thing about a successful image makeover - you have to have something to make yourself over from. Change can't be constant or it all just starts to look and feel the same. You've reinvented yourself more in three years than most singers do in three lifetimes - and the effect is starting to feel about as original as your new single. There, I said it. Not that it matters, since you were already crying, right?

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Look, I know you're a sensitive creature. You've often talked about being bullied in school for being "too provocative" and "a freak," even though your classmates recall you as popular, well-adjusted and ambitious. ("She had a core group of friends; she was a good student. She liked boys a lot, but singing was No. 1," one of them told a U.S. newspaper.) I understand that normalcy, in all its Gap-denim, middle class, heterosexual connotations doesn't really jibe with your declared quest to be "a glamorous woman, living a glamorous lifestyle." But, honey, there is nothing glamorous about trying too hard. As that other silly-hat-wearing genius Shakespeare once wrote, "the lady doth protest too much."

When you appear on American Idol as a mentor later this week, will you be signalling your evolution into a mature, confident recording artist - or will it be the death knell of your career? Are you going to suggest that finalists James, Lauren, Haley and Scotty emulate your star quality by having subdermal bone grafts as part of the "inner-inspirational light" of their "performance piece," or are you going to tell them the truth: That diligence and practice is the only way to the stadium stage.

Now that you're taking a quick breather between the last tour and new album launch, maybe it's time to sit down at the piano and remember the regular hard-working girl who loved to sing. The girl you were before the whole world went gaga.

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About the Author

Leah McLaren is a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. She’s published two novels, The Continuity Girl (2007) and A Better Man (2015) both with HarperCollins Canada and Hachette in the USA. The first was a Canadian bestseller, though the second is actually much better. More

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