Thursday, May 20, 2010

Videography - Lady Gaga (Part II - The Fame Monster)

Lady Gaga's second album, The Fame Monster, was a nine track album-ette released in late 2009. Despite its length, the album is full of powerful dance hits that the artist thought could be released as it's own album instead of adding bonus tracks to The Fame.

Order: 7
Title: "Bad Romance"
Album: The Fame Monster (2009)
Song Premise: A woman wants everything, the good and the bad, that comes with being in a relationship.
Video Premise: Lady Gaga emerges from a podlike coffin and dances around. She is force fed vodka and then sold to the highest bidder in the Russian mafia. However, she burns him alive with her flame thrower brassiere.

Comments: "Bad Romance" is one of my favorite Lady Gaga songs. It is melodramatic, as is the video. However, I don't think it fits. I like the concept of the video, but I don't think it belongs with this song. But what's done is done. I like the prostitution elements.

Order: 8
Title: "Telephone" (with Beyonce)
Album: The Fame Monster (2009)
Song Premise: A woman is bothered by her boyfriend's constant calling while she is partying at a club.
Video Premise: Oh we go. In this sequel to the "Paparazzi" video, Lady Gaga is led to a cell in a "Prison for Bitches" by two butch prison guards. She is stripped naked and one of the guards comments, "I told you she didn't have a dick." Then we see Gaga's day to day life in prison where she makes out with another prisoner in the exercise yard. Finally, Gaga answers a phone call from Beyoncé who plans to bail her out of jail. Then there is dancing with other inmates. Eventually Gaga is released and Beyoncé is waiting for her in the "Pussy Wagon" from Kill Bill. The two exchange dialogue and drive to a diner where Beyoncé's asshole boyfriend is waiting for her. She grows tired of it, and poisons him. Meanwhile, Gaga makes a sandwich and then mixes poison into all the dishes at the diner. While everyone is dead, Gaga and Beyoncé dance around the corpses and then escape into the desert. The video ends with "To Be Continued..."

Comments: Well...holy shit. This is certainly an epic video in the sense of size and scope. Does it make sense with the context of the song? Hell. No. Should it? Lady Gaga doesn't think so.  I guess we should never expect the lyrics of her songs to have any final effect on her videos. I think that's a shame. Not that "Telephone" has her deepest lyrics, mind you. I just think that maybe Lady Gaga would come up with her video concepts and then write lyrics to match them instead of getting our hopes up. Overall, you can tell that the singers are into every minute of it. And it's definitely something you would never expect from Beyoncé. There's so much effort put into every single frame, it's hard to dislike the "Telephone" video.

Order: 9
Title: "Alejandro"
Album: The Fame Monster (2010)
Song Premise: A woman is accosted by many Hispanic suitors.
Video Premise: The video begins with many soldiers sleeping in a cabaret and then cuts to different soldiers doing a dance/march. As the song begins, Gaga is leading a funeral procession, carrying a heart on a pillow. When the lyrics begin, she is sitting on a throne watching dancers perform an elaborate routine outside. Soon, Gaga is dancing and simulating sex with three men on twin beds intercuts with scenes of Gaga as a nun in a red latex habit. More dancing, similar to Bob Fosse's Cabaret. Then Gaga is wearing a bra  with AR-15 rifle barrels. In another scene, she struggles with her dancer and is undressed. The video ends with her dressed as the nun, the film burning away from her face outwards.

Comments: I won't lie. When I first watched it, I didn't get it. In fact, I had to look up the meaning (which I hate!!!). Anyway the director said this: "[The video is] about a woman's desire to resurrect a dead love and who can not face the brutality of her present situation. The pain of living without your true love." Okay...right. The whole thing is overlong. The video is almost double the length of the song, even. That's not to say I don't like it. I do, well, parts of it. Overall, it's a fantasy of Gaga's life after her lover has died. It doesn't have to make perfect sense. It's a mish-mash of desires.

Videography - Lady Gaga (Part I - The Fame)

Lady Gaga has been yet another one of my musical phases, so I decided to do her videography. After the release of her most recent video, "Telephone", I felt it was necessary to view the development of her music video style and how it got to be at this epic, ten minute place with stunning visuals that no other artist can get away with.

Order: 1
Title: "Just Dance"
Album: The Fame (2008)
Song Premise: Despite being drunk, phoneless, keyless, and manless, the narrator decides to just (you guessed it) dance the night away.
Video Premise: Lady Gaga and gang go to a house party that is seemingly dead. Everyone is awakened when Gaga puts on some new tunes and the young fashionable sociables  drink, dance, and look fashionable while doing so.

Comments: Honestly, this video is pretty much everything you would expect it to be. The song is about partying. The video is about partying. Although the quit editing and big cast make it visually stimulating. This is certainly the most glamorous house party I've ever seen (which I know doesn't say much about my social life!) Also, I found the 70's era architecture to be believable. Poor kids in their 20's are likely to rent homes from that era.

Order: 2
Title: "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich"
Album: The Fame (2008)
Song Premise: The song is about being poor yet having a sense of entitlement and ego. You're rich if you think you are...basically.
Video Premise: In an empty mansion, Gaga frolics around, writhes around in a huge pile of money, and dances while her friends occasionally frolic with her.

Comments: The "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" video is quite similar to the "Just Dance" video because it shows Gaga and her friends in a similar context and setting with no real point. Unlike its predecessor, this song could have a deeper video. Instead, it's kind of a carbon copy which, unfortunately, cheapens the song.

Order: 3
Title: "Poker Face"
Album: The Fame (2008)
Song Premise: The narrator muses how she can get men hot and bothered, but really has no heart or meaning behind her actions whether to continue physically or emotionally.
Video Premise: Lady Gaga emerges from a pool by a mansion. She attends a party where she and several men and women play a game of strip poker. Various dancing and random shots.

Comments: "Poker Face" is the first video to really get, ahem, Gaga. There are several random, WTF moments that, at least to the viewing audience, have absolutely nothing to do with the song. Like, Great Danes? Why? I guess, why not is the better question. Strip poker is inevitable but I can't help but feel the lyrics weren't fully utilized.

Order: 4
Title: "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)"
Album: The Fame (2008)
Song Premise: A woman, very sweetly, ends her relationship after she meets someone new.
Video Premise: In an Italian-American 50's-esque New York, Lady Gaga chats with her friends, is then she is shown in a housewife role, and then heckled by well meaning men.

Comments: This is definitely the lightest of all of Lady Gaga's videos, and perhaps the least sexual. At times it feel it could be a Britney video from the late 90's...with weirder clothing. It's fun and not at all heavy handed. There really isn't a point which makes me wonder why it was chosen as a single.

Order: 5
Title: "LoveGame"
Album: The Fame (2008)
Song Premise: A woman wants to have sex...yeah, that's pretty much it.
Video Premise: Lady Gaga dances in the subway station, then inside the subway, then she makes out with one of the security guards.

Comments: Simple and sexual...just like the song. Need I say more?

Order: 6
Title: "Paparazzi"
Album: The Fame (2008)
Song Premise: A woman claims she is a man's biggest fan and to follow him like paparazzi.
Video Premise: Lady Gaga is making out with her boyfriend in their mansion. He takes her outside on the balcony. When she refuses to pose for the paparazzi's cameras, he pushes her off the side. She survives, but returns home in a wheelchair. Through dance, she recuperates. Meanwhile, the video is intercut with shots of dead/murdered supermodels and Lady Gaga in a four-way with a trio of musicians. At the end, Gaga is still with her boyfriend but she poisons his drink and then turns herself into the police. Fame is hers once again as she goes to prison.

Comments: Oh, how I love videos about fame! Why? I have no idea, but I do love this video. It's one of my favorites of all time. Interestingly, it doesn't have much to do with the lyrics of a woman sickeningly devoted to a man. It still deals with paparazzi, most definitely, but on another level. Again, the visuals really get me. I like the dead super models. I like the revenge. I like the extended cinematic beginning. Props!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book Survey...because I need a break from writing.

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Judy Blume. I own pretty much everything of hers except her picture books and the ones concerning Fudge.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
I own two copies of Wuthering Heights, but I wish I owned more.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
No, real people end their sentences in prepositions all the time.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
I will always carry a pedophilic torch for Jeff Davidson from the Linda Series.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
It's a tie between Wuthering Heights and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
We Hate Everything But Boys.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
I never finish bad books.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Wuthering Heights.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
I don't think there is a book in existence that EVERYONE would like, so I wouldn't force it on anyone. However, I think most teenage girls could only benefit from reading Forever... by Judy Blume.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
Judy Blume. There. I said it.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is begging for a remake. A non-musical, non-Gregory Maguire inspired remake.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie? 
You know, I love movies, so I can't think of a novel I like that I wouldn't want to see on the big screen.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Once I dreamt I was a hobbit as was my current object of affection. But I think this was more movie inspired.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Want to Trade Two Brothers for a Cat? by Linda Lewis

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?

Night by Elie Weisel. I had to read it in 8th grade English. Most depressing two months ever.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
I've never seen a Shakespeare play, but I 've been in Hamlet (which was pretty standard) and then I played Celia in a modernized western version of As You Like It.'s a picture for proof.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I don't know, but it seems I would like French more.

18) Roth or Updike?
I like the Witches of

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen has better films.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I haven't actually read any Dickens or Austen.

23) What is your favorite novel? 
Wuthering Heights.

24) Play?
Damn, I really like Peter Pan.

25) Poem?
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.

26) Essay?
I am not scholarly.

27) Short Story?
"The Company of Wolves" by Angela Carter

28) Work of nonfiction?
Anything to do with film history.

29) Who is your favorite writer?
Judy Blume.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Ooh, anyone who uses the same plot over and over again and just changes the character names.

31) What is your desert island book?

Wuthering Heights yet again.

32) And... what are you reading right now?

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell. Not enough sex.