Apart from perhaps the wild hours of the early morning, music videos don’t seem to be part of the agenda over at MTV. It’s all the more ironic when the channel that originally killed (or maimed) the radio star offers up a slab of “awards” for the music videos they rarely play.
Luckily, the art of music videos remains and some artists are putting out impressive short films that call to mind the experiences of Michael Jackson videos like “Thriller” and “Black or White.”
In that tradition of music video events comes the latest from Lady Gaga. I have counted myself a fan since I had the opportunity to review her debut, The Fame. In the face of reproach from some “music diehards,” I have defended Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. I have clarified specious notions, such as the charge that she doesn’t write her own music (she does) or play instruments (she does).
And with a music pedigree that most other pop stars would kill (or maim) for, Lady Gaga shines all the more as a visual artist.
Through her short career, she has created music videos that are challenging and delightfully unusual. From the video for “Alejandro,” a nearly nine-minute experience, to her visual and musical pairing with Beyonce in “Telephone,” a nearly ten-minute experience, Lady Gaga has never been afraid to push boundaries. That doesn’t even touch on the beautiful minimalism of “Edge of Glory,” complete with an appearance by the now-deceased Big Man.
Her newest music video is “Marry the Night.” It clocks in at over 13 minutes and it’s a brave one. She appears nude frequently, although censor bars take care of business for those affronted by nipples. There are moments of high drama, explosions, subtitles, ostentatious fashion pieces, and a massive hat that amusingly blocks Miss Gaga from getting in a car.
There is New York, her celestial and concrete playground of choice, and there is some sort of German woman’s clinic complete with Girl, Interrupted crazies. There are moments of Norma Desmond-inspired noir. And cereal and a nurse with a really nice ass.
We could go around and around about “manufactured” pop stars and a lack of profundity in the genre in general, but I don’t buy it. Music will always have its slighter lights and its familiar pabulum, but Lady Gaga is special. She is David Bowie, Madonna, Elton John, and Freddy Mercury. She is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and this is “Marry the Night.”