It’s been a number of years since the whole world was talking about a music video clip as much as they have been GaGa’s “Telephone”. And whilst it may not exactly have anything on the superior “Bad Romance” video before it, it still offers up a whole lot more than almost any video clip being force-fed to us today, let alone the last few years.
We seem to be living in the age where music videos are an event once again, or, rather, and perhaps more specifically to the point, Lady GaGa’s videos are now an event. It’s something it seems everyone is interested in seeing; to the fans, the casual music listener, even the haters and people who listen to “real (boring) music”. The “real music” listeners watch it with gusto so they can bitch and moan later about how awful it and pop music is and why we should treat all pop stars like Hitler treated the Jews. In order to make such outlandish claims like this to match their super-tight black jeans and matching Libertines t-shirt, they’ve got to see the film clip so it looks like they have some kind of Indie leg to stand on during arguments with people like me about the video. At the end of the day though, they’ve sat down and watched that video clip, knowing full well they’re going to hate it. How long has it been since a pop star has been able to achieve that, and on a global level? You have to give GaGa kudos for that alone.
The near-10-minute epic extravaganza is, from the horses mouth, a social commentary on the American obsession with consumerism. But there’s some wild pop culture references sprinkled throughout too that are more than worthy of being mentioned. The use of Uma Thurman’s stolen ‘Pussy Wagon’ from Kill Bill was a direct loan to GaGa from Quentin Tarantino and drives the obvious mark Tarantino’s movies made on GaGa throughout the spliced-up-wonderment of “Telephone”, Beyonce’s nickname of “Honey Bee” also being a reference to “Honey Bunny” from Pulp Fiction, to the leopard-skin costume worn toward the end which seems to pay direct homage to the movies of John Waters and his cross-dressing star Divine.
The clip seems to have strum up some controversy, MTV have actually banned the video. Everything from the ‘lesbian’ kiss, a censored snapshot of GaGa’s Vadge and the death of an entire diner all playing a part. But that hasn’t stopped the drove of millions logging onto YouTube every day to watch it in high definition on their computers. The only thing MTV have really been relevant for in the last 5 years has – let’s face it – been “The Hills”, and the fact that they’ve banned the music video, in the digital age we live in now, means fuck-all what it used to back when artists NEEDED MTV to show their clips. It’s not detrimental any more and I find it funny how the media have, naturally, jumped all over the banning like it is of some actual relevance.
As for the video itself, obviously I really like it. The real surprise is just how much of a great actress Beyonce really is; she obviously follows instruction incredibly well – every scene she is in – absolute gold. This video has made her instantly more likeable to those of us who’ve perhaps been a little unimpressed by her output of late. She completely got it; there’s nothing that comes across as forced from her either which only adds to the charm of this video.
Kudos to Jonas Akerlund, the director, for doing such a stellar job too. There are moments, in particular when Beyonce is in a bedroom, alone, and GaGa in her jail cell, where the special effects and – to a point – even the placement of things around the room remind me very heavily of this Madonna video, also directed by Akerlund. Some might say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I actually enjoyed seeing Beyonce’s head being twisted to-and-fro ala Madonna in “The Beast Within.”
Some criticism has been made that the clip has nothing to do with the actual song. And whilst I agree to a point that it’s a little disappointing, it’s certainly not as disappointing as it would have been had we been given some stock-standard boring video clip set in a nightclub. I’m falling asleep just thinking about it now.
It might be an over-the-top vanity affair here, but who cares? Why are we lashing out at Pop Stars – of all people – for being vain if this is the kind of final product we’re going to get from them? Maybe there’s a line blurred with the degree of Vanity GaGa puts forward in her work and the degree of vanity every other pop star puts forward that people just can’t quite differentiate between. Luckily for them, it doesn’t look like GaGa’s going anywhere anytime soon so, perhaps, they’ll get to see that line for themselves and finally get it.
Whether you love her or hate her, love the clip or despise it, chances are you’ve seen it in full by now, and you’ve probably seen it more than once too. Anyhow, why not watch it again?
The Fame Monster
There’s something about Lady Gaga. Something so remarkably captivating and enthralling that, in the last few weeks, it’s been hard to escape her spell. If you’ve seen the truly outstanding video clip for new single ‘Bad Romance’, you’ll be aware of how much further Gaga has raised the proverbial pop bar when it comes to music video clips. For years we’ve tolerated a lazier blend of film clips from our pop stars; that’s not to say they’ve ALL been lazy, but they’ve certainly all had their moments. And that’s the whole point. From the begining, Gaga has been nothing short of incredibly interesting to watch. The persona, (or rather, the Gaga Enigma) that she has drummed up over the last 16 to 18 months has been truly fascinating. A piece of art-work in progress for everyone to see.
Even if you aren’t taken by her perfect-pop-hooks or incredibly styled video clips, you can’t deny that the creation that is Lady Gaga has changed the current pop climate. And the long-awaited pseudo-sophomore follow-up to last years The Fame, titled The Fame Monster, wipes the floor clean with every other album perched in the charts right now.
Birthing only 8 tracks, The Fame Monster makes up in quality for its quantity issue. First single, the Eurovision homaging ‘Bad Romance’ continues to get better with each listen; its primal chorus and searing shouts from Gaga provide a hungry backdrop of desperation – particularly in the rather full-on but equally as moving line “I wan’t your love, I don’t wanna be friends…” To top it off, the middle-8 is insanely good, and the final one minute and seventeen seconds are some of the greatest closing moments in ANY song of the last 10 years. It’s gorgeous, tragic, sad, energetic, animalistic, passionate, and very definitely the song of the year.
Gaga pushes the Lady Schlager boundaries even further with more Eurovision-esque stompers in the form of ‘Dance In The Dark’, an industrial-goth disco track that combines a gigantic chorus with one of Gaga’s most uplifting riffs to date, complete with a Madonna Vogue/Express Yourself homaging talky-bit where she coos “Marilyn, Judy, Sylvia… Tell ‘em how you feel girls… Find your freedom in the music, find your Jesus, find your Kubrick”, whilst ‘Alejandro’ brings the 1990′s to the naughties in seamless fashion; a semi-central motif through the record.
Continuing with the unrivaled passion, ‘Monster’ is one of the greatest 1980′s pop songs that never was actually from the 1980′s. “He ate my heart; that boy is a monster” she sings with such tortured conviction – all through a vocoder. The deceptive ‘So Happy I Could Die’, a stand-out highlight, comes along with its marching band leanings, and takes that mid-tempo ballad feel of the 1990′s and gives it a proper, exciting new lease of life. This is divine electropop at its finest. Then, the only conventionally proper ballad on the album, ‘Speechless’, although sounding a little out of place on the record, serves as a classy piano-led affair (much like her often overlooked yet genius ‘Brown Eyes’ from the first album) that, after the first listen, warms on you instantly. ‘Teeth’, which seems to be leaving some feeling a little cold (I’ve no idea why), manages to do in just over three minutes what Christina Aguilera tried to do – and failed in trying – over a 2 bloody disc CD. That’s how you do it Bitch. To top it all off, “Teeth” sounds like a classy re-rub of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” in places, particularly through the chorus.
One of the most interesting moment on The Fame Monster is Gaga’s collaboration with Beyonce, ‘Telephone’. If you’re looking for a proper club-banger on Monster, then this is it. Like the hotter, younger sister to Gaga’s debut ‘Just Dance’, this is the next single and rightly so; it’s an immediate stand-out on here. Beyonce’s rap sits comfortably; it sounds like it BELONGS to her whilst still very much being Gaga’s vehicle. And what a bloody chorus…
Without a doubt, as the lovely Will Wongster said in his ace review, this is 2009′s answer to 1984’s ‘Like A Virgin.’ Gaga’s been compared to Madonna since the beginning. And whilst taking a quick glance at her portfolio of work taken from that debut album, it can actually be a bit puzzling as to where such claims came from. But then again; there always HAS been that something about her. Whether it was humping a blow-up whale in the ‘Just Dance’ video, or using Eric from True Blood in the ‘Paparazzi’ clip, it’s always been evident that there is a swag more determination and drive running through Gaga’s veins than any of the pop stars vying for our attention at the moment. It’s that drive and ambition some would say they used to see in a young(er) Madonna…
Lady GaGa really is the second coming; possibly even the next generations answer to a Madonna or a Debbie Harry. Pop’s BIGGEST hope at the moment and the only artist who is bringing something fresh and original to the table. Whilst Madonna goes off and works with tired Urban producers (that said, boy did I love Hard Mandy), Gaga’s managed to do what Madonna USED to do; putting unique pop music at the top of the American charts. “Look at that; a white girl singing pop music on the tele mom!!” All of a sudden, everyone wants to work (and is) with RedOne.
She treats her fans with respect which is a lot more than you can say for Britney or, even so of late, Madonna. She is loyal and cares about her fans, and in return, she has a very, very strong fan base – probably more loyal than any other artist in the charts now. And that’s because she has proper pop smarts; she knows what her ‘Little Monsters’ want from her as an artist and, in return, they offer her undying love and eternal devotion. THAT’S how you work a crowd.
Fuck what she looks like; it’s not about what she looks like any more because she’s proven well enough now that there is more to her than just an odd face. It’s interesting to see a lot of hatred spread about Gaga via the internet regarding her image, her bodyweight; a lot of women in particular seem to be the instigators of said volatile attacks. Just like Madonna through the 80′s and 90′s, Gaga’s biggest critics seem to be women. It’s quite frustrating when a strong woman comes along in the pop world, it’s usually the Women who hate on them. It’s an awful reflection on the way society pins women up against other women in all aspects of life, not just pop music, and the way some Women can, unfortunately, do it to each other.
This is a proper, bonafide pop star who is not going anywhere any time soon. She is also the first person that has made me question Madonna’s current stance in the pop climate. Although technically The Queen of Pop (overall), she’s certainly not the CURRENT Queen of Pop, is she? And Gaga is too fierce in her convictions to be saddled off into a Princess of Pop tag. That’s not the work of a Princess; that’s the work of a Queen; MAYBE in Training, which is where the Princess tag should come in… But it just doesn’t suit her, does it? A Queen in Training who seems to be trailblazing her way through the charts (and hearts) with proper, catchy pop music.
There’s something about Beyonce.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure what that something is yet because, time after time, album after album, she disappoints me by not going down the path which is her ultimate destiny; to become a 21st century Disco Diva, like her supposed hero Diana Ross was in the 20th. So much potential lies within how fierce (pardon the pun) Beyonce’s imagery of late has been. The picture up above, in its full form, is probably my absolute favourite picture of Beyonce to date, and I will forever remember this remix album cover as being probably her most iconic photograph. This is one of the things I will remember her for in years to come.
I do love, however, that Beyonce is still very much a remixable artist. If her song is rubbish, there is a very good chance that if it’s remixed, it will end up being monstrously good and very similar to the kind of thing she should be doing. Everything of hers the Freemasons have remixed is instantly of legendary status (but not entirely due to the Freemasons), and most of the mix packages that come through for Beyonce singles feature at least one absolute stomper.
There are enough spectacular Beyonce remixes to make up what would be the perfect B-Bouncey album. One of the best, it seems, is an incredibly recent one. The Dave Aude Remix of “Halo” is of epic proportions. And not ‘epic’ like the kids all say things are these days, but proper ‘epic’ – in pop music terms; that kind of epic. It’s the sort of dramatic dance song that, coupled with the teary lyrics, provide a landscape for what is the absolute best kind of disco; where you get to dance your heart out to a sad story being told.
I’ve uploaded it for you to download, chances are it might disappear so grab it quickly. Keep an ear out for the destructively amazing breakdown and build-up at the 6 minute 20 second mark. DI-VA.
Beyonce runs the risk of missing this possibly monstrous opportunity before it’s too late. You might say that she’s obviously doing fine enough with what she’s already doing, and you’re right. But why should Beyonce settle for mediocrity? Or, even worse; second best? I believe a wise woman named Madonna once said not to go for second best, and if Beyonce wants to be bigger than God (actually, she’s quite religious isn’t she, so let’s just say ‘as big as God’ to keep her happy), she needs to take that advice on board as a mantra.
If you feel the same, you should become a fan of Beyonce Remixes on Facebook.
Oh, and just for the record, I am definitely one of the people that thinks her sister, Solange, is the better popstar of the two.