Lady Gaga premiered the music video for her new single “Applause” this morning, and as soon as I started watching I thought, “Haven’t I seen this video before?” The whole thing seems so derivative of her other videos. It’s like she copied and pasted bits and pieces of her past work and strung it all together to form one video with multiple personality disorder. I don’t mean this literally, of course. I soon realized that these were new images, but the concepts behind them seemed so old. Has Gaga finally run out of weird things to do? And after only a few years of fame?
When Gaga first released this single last week, it kind of seemed like she had given up. I must admit that the song has grown on me since I first listened to it, not in a way that makes me want to listen to it all the time, but in a way that makes me do a little dancey-dance in my chair when I hear it and then hum it later in the day without realizing. But I still don’t like it the way I like her other music, and I think it’s indicative of Gaga running out of steam. This video solidifies that for me.
Say what you will about Gaga forcing weirdness down our throats, but you have to admit her previous videos had concepts. They had clear settings and styles and themes, and sometimes they even had stories. You show me five seconds of her “Telephone” video without sound, and I’ll know it’s “Telephone.” Same with “Just Dance” and “Judas” and even “Born This Way.” But nothing about her “Applause” video is memorable in that way. It’s just a bunch of weird images and half-naked dance numbers, and I’ve seen a lot of it from her before.
She writhes in her underwear on a mattress here, just like she did in “Alejandro.” She dances in her underwear with a group of people, just like she did in “Born This Way.” She’s done it in other ones too, but “Born This Way” screamed the loudest here. Then there’s the requisite monster hands and the big blonde hair that makes you go, “Hey, Lady Gaga looks really great when she’s not wearing alien horns.” Even when there’s no reference to one video in particular, it just feels like it’s been done before. Oh, look, her head is on a swan’s body. Hasn’t she done that before? Oh, she’s holding a huge mannequin leg? Didn’t she do that last year? She’s running out of ways to reinvent herself, and now it just looks lazy.
I must say, though, I love that she reworked that hand bra from her naked photos into an actual fashion bra. It’s probably the most interesting thing about this video to me. And that’s including the swan thing.