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Single Review: Lady Gaga’s “Judas”

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Single Review: Lady Gaga’s “Judas”

She expressed herself with the baptismal “Born This Way,” but Lady Gaga saved her prayers—or something like them—for the urgent follow-up, “Judas.” Slated to be released at the beginning of Holy Week (before a leaked snippet ostensibly forced a slightly early debut), Gaga’s “Judas” spins a satyrical tale of history’s worst romance, plotted with heavy, foreboding beats. Though she gives Jesus a shout out as her “virtue,” Gaga’s Mary Magdalene sock puppet keeps sidelining Our Savior in favor of history’s greatest scapegoat, whose dark destiny fuels her desire for self-fulfilling, star-crossed prophecy. “In the most bibilical sense, I am beyond repentance,” she admits, but the recrudescent exclamatory bullet points peppered throughout the chorus (“Ju-DAH, Ju-duh-AH-AH, Ju-DAH, Ju-DAH, GA-GA!”) suggest Gaga’s not actively seeking redemption either. The whole production bears more than just a passing resemblance to “Bad Romance,” and in this case, it feels like a willful resurrection. Happy Easter, Roma-ma!

The connection and deviation from her previous single couldn’t be more pronounced. Musically, “Judas” is pitched at about the same glitter-jackhammer level as “Born This Way,” though the big anthemic chords are almost inverted—not unlike Inner City’s “Big Fun” vs. “Good Life.” It’s a good twin, evil twin thing. “Born This Way” was a utopian alternate Pan(sexual)gea whose euphoric chords posited something greater than heaven, a little slice of acceptance in the Kingdom of the Now, in direct opposition to the enemy’s promise of a miserable life on the off chance for a reward in the Kingdom of the Not Yet. “Judas” is a disturbed vision of a hell that—what do you know—ain’t so bad after all. In a warped sense, it’s the new single that seems more forward-thinking, though the message is certainly a great deal more muddled than the “gay = great” equation at the heart of “Born This Way.” “In the cultural sense, I just speak in future tense,” she chants. NostraGagas says buy stock in “ear condoms” with great haste.

Incidentally, if the ersatz sensuality in the song’s lyrics seems overly conceptual and not especially convincing, it may be that “Judas” confirms Gaga’s latent, strident asexuality. Ever since her admission of celibacy last year, I can’t stop seeing and hearing everything she does through the lens of our shared embrace of that chestnut: “It’s complicated.” Gaga is poz on sexuality, not sex itself. And, with “Judas,” she takes dry humping into the realm of the theoretical.

But the entire concept sort of raises the question: What does Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (S-JAG) seek to gain from this bad religion? To comment on it? To exploit it? To undercut it? No doubt a number of her little monsters, having freshly temporary-tattooed “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” on their tramp-stamp/cum-puddle zones, might take exception with Gaga’s decision to extend her excursion into Madgeland with a day trip into the Queen of Pop’s complicated relationship with God. To read her bibilical parable as a simple endorsement of the Holy Gospel is simplistic, and misses the central point: that Gaga’s heart belongs to the Good Book’s bad guys. In entangling herself with the legacy of the man who, depending on how you look at it, either condemned God’s incarnation to agonizing death or set into motion the apparatus that redeemed all of humanity, Gaga’s self-described “holy fool” flips one of the Christian right’s most arrogantly passive-aggressive catchphrases: The chorus of “Judas” may as well be “Love the sinner, love the sin.”

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Let Your Sanity Go on Vacation with a Trip to the Moons of Madness

If you dare, ascend into the horrors of the Martian mind and check out the trailer for yourself.

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Moons of Madness
Photo: Rock Pocket Games

The announcement trailer for Moons of Madness opens with an empty shot of the Invictus, a research installation that’s been established on Mars. The camera lingers over well-lit but equally abandoned corridors, drifting over a picture of a family left millions of kilometers behind on Earth before finally settling on the first-person perspective of Shane Newehart, an engineer working for the Orochi Group. Fans of a different Funcom series, The Secret World, will instantly know that something’s wrong. And sure enough, in what may be the understatement of the year, Newehart is soon talking about how he “seems to have a situation here”—you know, what with all the antiquated Gothic hallways, glitching cameras, and tentacled creatures that start appearing before him.

As with Dead Space, it’s not long before the station is running on emergency power, with eerie whispers echoing through the station and bloody, cryptic symbols being scrawled on the walls. Did we mention tentacles? Though the gameplay hasn’t officially been revealed, this brief teaser suggests that players will have to find ways both to survive the physical pressures of this lifeless planet and all sorts of sanity-challenging supernatural occurrences, with at least a soupçon of H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmicism thrown in for good measure.

If you dare, ascend into the horrors of the Martian mind and check out the trailer for yourself.

Rock Pocket Games will release Moons of Madness later this year.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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