Published on May 11th, 2011 | by Jim Dalrymple0
Betrayed by Lady Gaga’s “Judas”
Perhaps nothing could measure up to Lady Gaga’s early promise and the meta bombast of videos like “Telephone” and “Bad Romance.” But, in any case, last week’s newly released video for “Judas” certainly doesn’t live up to anything and is a boring new low for an artist who works so hard to be fresh.
The video for “Judas” tells the Greatest Story Ever Told via a biker gang and some group dance numbers. And some sex. It sounds like typical Gaga and probably looked amazing on paper and in pre-production.
But the product doesn’t live up to the premise and the video just feels like it’s going through the motions. The dancing — which has been singled out as disappointing by other commentators as well — is particularly rout, as if someone felt Gaga couldn’t release a video without choreography, even if it’s about as innovative as something produced by the Backstreet Boys in the late ’90s. Where “Bad Romance” excelled by embedding dance in the narrative, “Judas” is more jarring, flipping from scene to scene with seemingly little purpose.
The imagery itself is also disappointingly stale. Biker gangs? The Bible? To be sure, these things are experiencing a resurgence of sorts. “Sons of Anarchy” is trying to resurrect the motorcycle gang motif from the vanguard of plump retirees that have dominated it for at least a generation. And biblical imagery always pushes some buttons, right?
But are any of these images relevant in the world of Gaga’s fans and followers (or for anyone under 50)? Gaga’s best videos are strikingly modern, even as they rely on retro pastiche. “Judas,” on the other hand, is sort of like a sad, veiled homage to Metallica’s “Until it Sleeps.”
If the video has one redeeming value, it’s that the song is actually fun. Especially coming after Gaga’s gussied up version of “Express Yourself,” it’s exciting, maybe even better than some of her earlier work and apparently furthers Gaga’s apparent goal to makes us all fluent in Spanish.
But Gaga is Gaga because she is as much a visual artist as a musician. None of her songs were really ever complete — or fantastic — until they were set to a video. So pleasing as “Judas” may be, the final draft feels dull and out-of-date. ♦ ♦ ♦
Jim Dalrymple writes about crime for the Daily Herald, based in Utah. He also is a culture writer for Revolv Magazine and Rhombus Online Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @jimmycdii.