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Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

November 11th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

UPDATE: Gaga was kind enough to offer feedback on my musings here and stated, in no uncertain terms, that I’m totally wrong. She loves me anyway though…sorta.

Have we all seen Lady Gaga’s new video on youtube? If not, click below. It got a million plus hits in the first 24 hours it was up so you know people are taking notice.


(sorry if the link doesn’t work, these clips are being removed with all speed by youtube for copyright infringement)

Let’s discuss. There are a whole bunch of really interesting / unsettling references going on here that I think will be missed by the majority of Gaga’s demographic.

She’s got a Bette Midler thing going on. The curly wig seals it. And how about the fact that she’s in a bathhouse surrounded by men? Where did Midler get her start? Gay bathhouses in NYC when going to those establishments was still something that reasonable gay men did.

Let’s also consider the sickness / death theme. The coffins? Being forced to take her meds by scary attendants?

And what about the dance that seems a lot like a nod to corporal wasting and paralysis? And then there are the lyrics: ” I want your disease…” “I want your leather-studded kiss…”

Finally, the song is called Bad Romance. Though its not immediately clear in the lyrics just why this love she wants to so desperately is “bad,” I think I have a plausible theory:

The video of Bad Romance is about the AIDS crisis. All of the elements are there. While one might take umbrage with that point based on the music alone, the video clearly extends and intensifies the song’s meaning.

Gaga executed a similar move in her video for Paparazzi. In that work, she takes a song about a girl who is infatuated with a potential lover and transforms it into a commentary on the very nature of fame: its distorting and destructive effect. I dig that video, and I’m digging Bad Romance too.

Haters are saying that Bad Romance isn’t fabulous. It isn’t fashion. It isn’t organic. That’s irrelevant. What Bad Romance is, and what Lady Gaga is quickly becoming, is far more complex and multi-layered than those statements suggest her fans want. This is performance art. And, in fact, it is fashion. High fashion. Unwearable, conceptual, challenging art. Gaga is pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a pop performer – confounding our expectations with her sound, her style of presentation, and her veneer of impenetrability. Hers is not a, but the career to watch in 2010 and her upcoming album will either cement her status as our generation’s most innovative popular musician or reveal her as a dilettante and a poseur. I’m banking on the former.


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  1. Burkalicious
    November 12th, 2009 at 13:55 | #1

    I saw the video yesterday. Indeed very interesting. There is a lot going on here. First, I was trying to figure out the meaning of the closing vignette / diorama in which GaGa is lying on the bed sparks shooting from her breasts a la femmebot next to the charred corpse. This fits in with your AIDS theory because the man with the golden chin starts burning the moment she drops her robe revealing some naughty knickers.

    The Bette Midler thing I just don’t understand. Interestingly, when she is in the bathtub with the peach colored wig, there is a CGI effect giving her a freakish doe eyed look similar to the one used in Grizzly Bear’s Two Weeks video. Wonder is there is a connection.

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