Two months ago, after it became clear that the music video for “Do What U Want,” the second single from Lady Gaga’s latest album, Artpop, was unlikely to ever see the light of day, the singer took to her fan forum to explain:
“[The video] is late because, just like with the Applause video unfortunately, I was given a week to plan and execute it. It is very devastating for someone like me, I devote every moment of my life to creating fantasies for you. All my my [sic] most successful videos were planned over a period of time when I was rested and my creativity was honored. Those who have betrayed me gravely mismanaged my time and health and left me on my own to damage control any problems that ensued as a result.”
Mother Martyr continued:
“The next few months of ARTPOP will truly be its beginning. Because those who did not care about ARTPOP’s success are now gone, and the dreams I have been planning can now come to fruition…Let me be for you the Goddess that I know I truly am, let me show you the visions that have been in my mind for two years.”
More than four months after the album’s release, it seems Gaga is finally getting around to keeping that promise. Except it feels less like a beginning and more like a last gasp (Artpop currently sits at #156 on the Billboard album chart). “G.U.Y.” is a receptacle—a veritable dumping ground, really—for all of the visual ideas Gaga had hoped to explore throughout the life of the album, including those for erstwhile second single “Venus.”
Following the comparatively brief clip for “Applause,” “G.U.Y.” returns Gaga to her previous visual excesses. Shot over six days last month at the San Simeon, California estate of publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, the seven-minute “short film” recalls the pop star’s first epic production, the superior “Paparazzi,” and not just because the location’s European architecture is similar to that of the Bel Air manse where the previous video was shot. “G.U.Y.” likewise revisits Gaga’s perennial theme of fame, with cameos by the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and YouTuber SkyDoesMinecraft ostensibly intended as a comment on reality stardom, though it’s not entirely clear.
It begins promisingly and strikingly, with a winged Gaga lying in a barren field littered with money. She’s been shot out of the sky by men in suits, no doubt an allegory for the artist’s fall from grace by what she perceives to be the business interests of the industry and media. She crawls to the doorstep of Hearst Castle, where she’s taken to the pool and reborn as…apparently Donatella Versace. From there, things take a turn for the muddled, with the seashells-by-the-seashore motif of “Venus” represented by synchronized swimmers paying homage to the 1952 Esther Williams movie Million Dollar Mermaid, and some kind of cloning operation using the DNA of Michael Jackson, Jesus Christ, and Gandhi. Oh, and Bravo’s Andy Cohen is Zeus.
A throwback to the singer’s early hit “LoveGame” that she describes as “new-wave feminism,” “G.U.Y.” purports to teach us “new and exciting positions,” but it’s ultimately just the same old missionary style. For a song about sex, the video is tragically unsexy.
Gaga takes the stage for seven shows at the soon-to-be-shuttered Roseland Ballroom in New York City beginning Friday. Despite numerous inquiries, we still haven’t been invited.