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Lady Gaga - "Bad Romance"

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Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga is one of the most unconventional woman artist and one of the best-selling of all time. She started her musical career at 15, escalating faster than anyone every music charts. She currently has several Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards and six Grammy Awards, among others. Her debut album The Fame with its chart-topping singles Just Dance and Poker Face helped her rise to prominence in 2008. The next year, 2009 – The Fame Monster, her follow-up album featuring Bad Romance and Alejandro proved successful as well. The Fame Monster’s first single’s music video, Bad Romance was released on 24th of November 2009 and uploaded by LadyGagaVEVO on YouTube. In April 2010, the video became the most watched on YouTube and helped Gaga win Video of the Year at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, and Best Short Form Music Video at the Grammy’s. The video’s director was Francis Lawrence who worked alongside Gaga herself, Thomas Kloss, the director of photography and Gaga’s creative team, Haus of Gaga that took care of the art direction.

Originally, the video was supposed to be shot in New York City but because of Gaga’s schedule, it was shot in Los Angeles over a period of two days. Moreover, Gaga wanted more elaborate sets, including outdoor ones but because of budgetary reasons, the idea was scrapped. In order to better understand the video and the story it depicts, I am going to deconstruct it by using both semiotic and narrative analysis. The whole idea of the music video is to portray the tough female spirit – for which she designed a pair of razor-blade sunglasses that she is wearing at the beginning of the video but also to show how the entertainment industry can simulate human trafficking, by selling products and perceiving women as commodities. In the initial situation, we are introduced to a Gaga sitting on a chair, surrounded by both men and women. We can hear a creepy music playing in the background but everything and everyone seem to be inert until she presses the “play” button on a sound bar. The video continues with Gaga and another 6 women emerging from something resembling a high-tech coffin.

At the beginning, she looks deprived of her senses, with her eyes, ears and nose covered. This kind of deprivation is a technique used to torture prisoners or mind-controlled slaves in order to “break” them and facilitate their re-education. For us, this could mean that Gaga is an amateur, not really knowing what she’s doing in the music industry. In the next image, she appears to be talking to herself in the mirror – reminiscent of the movie “Who’s Tommy”, where a boy that becomes deaf, dumb and blind after a traumatic event is only becoming responsive when staring at a mirror. The next scene shows a “wide-eyed” and innocent Gaga who, while still drugged, tries to wash off her sins by taking a bath. Everything is white here, including her outfit, background and bathtub to express innocence and purity. We can now easily say that Gaga is a victim, one that appears to be struggling with understanding the background in which she wakes up. Two women appear beside her and begin to roughly handle her. Gaga tries to fight them in the beginning but when she realizes she can’t, she accepts her condition and goes with the flow. She is then forced to drink what appears to be vodka, which is, in fact, an MTV-friendly substitute for drugs. The idea underneath this is that mind-controlled sex slaves are heavily drugged to numb their thoughts and make them easy to manipulate.

The following two scenes depict Gaga in two different states: the scene in which she’s in the shower might be the scene preceding the one she’s in her white outfit, being so secure about herself. In the shower, she appears like a shadow figure, slightly emaciated, visibly suffering, while in the next scene, Gaga is undressed and forced to perform in front of a bunch of men. This is also the moment when our victim transforms herself in a princess, accepting that she can’t change her condition but realizing she should stop whining about it and take action. The men could represent the dark force that rules the music industry and the masks – their hidden nature. Each man is a record company, bidding the highest to sign her. Our princess seems to be aware of the process and leaves her shyness behind, while struggling to give the men her best performance. She then heads towards a particular man, one that she might like better, given the circumstances. She entices him and the man falls for her charms and bids to gain her for himself. In the next two scenes, Gaga appears to have changed her view towards the men and also her outfits. One scene depicts her at the center of planetary orbits, while in the scene with the diamonds that float around her, she appears to have a cross on her “privates” – which is definitely a defiant sign, shown in disrespect.

After this, our princess is required to fulfill her duties as the sex slave she is and give herself out to her winning bidder. She then enters a completely white room, in a white polar bear fur-coat and faces the man who bought her, completely wearing black. The room is very symbolic, both visually and narratively. The two gazelle heads on each side of the bed refer to Baphomet, the horned idol of Western occultism, representing the music industry. We then find out that Gaga isn’t offering herself to her winning bidder, but to her idol – the music industry. She wants to be initiated and accepted amongst his disciples – she wants to be an insider, and she doesn’t want “to be friends” with the music industry. The bed catching on fire represents that her idol accepted her offering – and the man was just a means for her to obtain the fame she wanted. Another scene plays simultaneously with the arson scene – Gaga and her masked dancers are dressed in red, which is the color of sacrifice and initiation. The princess is innocent no longer – she has become her own hero and her winning bidder’s worst nightmare. She is now initiated and accepted as an insider in the music industry – the virginal white garments she was wearing before being replaced by a bloody red are a visual confirmation.

The final scene shows Gaga lying in bed with the burned skeleton of her winning bidder. We can notice how everything caught fire and was burnt in this scene, except for the two gazelle heads, proving that she ultimately got what she wanted, playing the game on her own terms. When you first listen to the lyrics, one might get the impression that they seem to be about her wanting a relationship with some kind of psychopath. The video however, reveals that the psychopath is the music industry. The song starts with what appears to be a chant that will repeat itself throughout the end – “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah-ah!” could refer to the ancient Egyptian sun god (remember the razor blades sunglasses? The lenses look like they have a shining sun on them), while “Roma-roma-mamaa!” might be a reference to the Roman Catholic Church. The first two stanzas reveal the sickness and wrongness of what Gaga is seeking – “I want your ugly,/ … your disease,/ … your drama,/ … your leather-studded kiss in the sand”. She knows all this about the music industry and she still desires it. There is an obvious sense of sadomasochism – she seems to know that this love will hurt her and treat her badly, but she’s up for it anyway.

The next and last two stanzas make up a mix of horrific evil – “I want your horror,/ … your design/ Cause you’re a criminal/ As long as you’re mine” and hardcore sex references – “I want your psycho/ Your vertigo stick/ Want you in my rear window/ Baby you’re sick”. During the bridge, Gaga almost cries singing “I don’t wanna be friends“, meaning she has no interest in being an outsider of the music industry, she wants to be part of it. In addition, “I want your love and,/ All your lovers’ revenge” means she wants the undivided attention of the music industry to the point that she also wants the hatred of anyone who’s jealous of her.

All in all, Lady Gaga’s music video, Bad Romance is one of the densest and most symbolic I’ve ever watched. Once deconstructed, the music video describes indeed the Bad Romance of the music industry, accurately showing the steps one must take in order to become part of it – submission, control, negotiations, initiation, secrecy and, most important, embracing the dark forces in the music industry.

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Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance”. (2018, September 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/lady-gaga-bad-romance/
“Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance”.” GradesFixer, 14 Sept. 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/lady-gaga-bad-romance/
Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance”. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/lady-gaga-bad-romance/> [Accessed 19 May 2022].
Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Sept 14 [cited 2022 May 19]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/lady-gaga-bad-romance/
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