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July 16th, 2010
Instead of "Alejandro," Todd opens with the chorus from "The Sign" by Ace of Base, whose "Don't Turn Around" was sampled in "Alejandro".
LADY GAGA - "ALEJANDRO"
A pop song review
Todd: [reading letters he's pulled out] "Dear Todd: Are you going to do the new Lady Gaga song?"
"Hey. Can't wait for the inevitable 'Alejandro' review."
"Come on, Todd. Aren't you gonna review the new Lady Gaga?"
Yeah, sure, why not? It's not like I haven't beaten that topic into the ground.
- Video for "Telephone"
Todd (VO): "So, hey, have you heard about this Lady Gaga chick? She makes crazy videos..."
Todd: Oh, whatever, I'm so over this. You think she's overexposed with you? Imagine what it's like being me. I just don't have anything left to say about her. I know all about her [images show her in a "weird?" hat] crazy outfits and her [performing in a bubble dress] crazy live performances and her [her with fans] fanatical fanbase of "Little Monsters." Yeah, you know what? Big Head Todd here is not one of the Monsters and I...I just don't wanna do this. Well, if there is at least one silver lining, it's this—after "Bad Romance" and "Telephone," this almost has to be a step backwards.
Todd (VO): After making something as ludicrously and painfully over the top as "Telephone," you don't have any further up to go. You have to calm down some, you have to take a breather. Comparatively, "Alejandro" is not going to be able to match that level of self-indulgence.
Todd: Just out of necessity, "Alejandro" has to force Lady Gaga to show a little bit of self-restraint.
- Video snippets of "Alejandro," including a bit where she swallows a rosary
Todd: [after a long pause] Okay, let's do this. [Image of single cover] Okay, so yeah, "Alejandro," her new Mexico-themed smash hit. Alright, well you remember how, at the end of the "Telephone" video, [shows end of "Telephone" video] she was driving off into Mexico and there was a big "To Be Continued..." sign? Yeah, well this has nothing to do with that. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
- Video for "Alejandro"
- Lady Gaga: Don't call my name.
- Don't call my name, Alejandro.
Todd (VO): Okay, now obviously, the first thing that everyone notices about "Alejandro" is that it sounds exactly like an Ace of Base single.
- Video for Ace of Base - "Don't Turn Around"
- Jenny Berggren: Don't turn around
- Linn: 'Cause you're gonna see my heart breaking
Todd (VO): Now that's not a terrible thing, I suppose, but it does kinda bug me that supposedly the most dynamic and interesting pop star of our age is ripping off mediocre acts from fifteen years ago.
Todd: What's the next single gonna sound like? Hootie? Alanis Morissette? Hmmm...
- Gaga: She's got both hands in her pocket.
Todd: And the other one... [joined by video for Alanis Morissette - "Hand in My Pocket"] is hailing a taxicab? No, I guess that doesn't make sense.
- Gaga: ...in her pocket.
- And she won't look at you
- Won't look at you
- She hides true love
- En su bolsillo.
Todd (VO): "En su bosillo" also means "in her pocket." Without the switch of Spanish, [shows lyrics with "in her pocket" twice typed in red, with blue "en su bosillo" covering the second time] she would've rhymed "pocket" with "pocket." This has been another lesson in disguising your weak songwriting with a gratuitous foreign language. Although, [both "you's" are now yellow] partial credit only, Gaga. [Video for "Telephone"] Now, before I go on, I have something I need to say about my review of "Telephone." Now, when I did that, I got a lot of responses telling me, "you don't get it, man. It's not literally about a guy called her at a club. It's actually about her own internal fear of enjoying herself. Lady Gaga said it's a metaphor about her own voices in her head nagging at her to stop having fun."
Todd: Uh, yeah, well 1—yes, it is literally about a guy calling her at the club. That's what the word "literally" means. Now, as for whether or not it's metaphorically about her own internal fear of enjoying herself, my response is this:
- Gaga: Just a second
- It's my favorite song they're gonna play
- And I cannot text you with
- a drink in my hand, eh…
- You shoulda made some plans with me,
- you knew that I was free.
Todd: My response is, no it's not. It's about a guy calling her at the club. Lady Gaga lies like a rug. There is nothing about "Telephone" that warrants a metaphorical reading. Now, as for "Alejandro," I'm willing to be more open-minded as the lyrics are a bit more on the oblique ("meaningless") side.
Todd (VO): The chorus switches from third-person to first-person for no real reason, and it doesn't seem to be about anything really concrete. Now my interpretation is that she's singing from the perspective of a scared virgin.
- Gaga: Don't wanna kiss, don't wanna touch.
Todd: Which is, uh, kind of funny considering the fact of her near-constant near-nudity, and also the fact that within the song she seems to be dating three guys at once.
- Gaga: Alejandro
Todd: But that's just my interpretation, you might have your own. Maybe Gaga's gonna come out and say this was actually about the German Reformation, who knows? Now, "Alejandro," is this a bad song? No, not really. There are many, many worse on the radio right now than "Alejandro," [long pause] but I don't know why I ever pretend this is about the music.
Todd (VO): So the video, which is yet again the only thing anyone cares about. Well, the video starts off right away with the expected ridiculous bombast, loudly announcing "GAGA" and..."KLEIN." [Todd shrugs] (WHO?) (WHY SHOULD I CARE?) Wake up, guys. I know nothing's happening, but you gotta wake up.
Todd: Okay, even if you are one of Lady Gaga's many gay fans, at what point do you start feeling pandered to? Like when do you reach the point where even you have to sit back and look at it and say, "okay, this is getting kind of gay"?
- Voice over video: We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships.
Todd: [waiting for singing, dancing, anything] Anytime, Gaga. Anytime.
- Gaga: I know that we are young.
- And I know you may love me.
- But I just can't be with you like this anymore.
Todd (VO): Because you're apparently dead, or possibly one of these gay guys. There's not really a lot of context. Okay, in case you haven't gathered, "Alejandro"'s gonna stay true to form by being way too long, trying way too hard, and doing way too much. And...
Todd: You know what? It took me a long time to admit it, but "Bad Romance" is actually an excellent video.
- Video for "Bad Romance"
Todd (VO): The imagery is well-chosen, the editing is superb, and most importantly, it flows with the music, and it fits the song in its own weird little way. [Video for "Paparazzi"] But "Telephone" and "Paparazzi" were both overstuffed disasters and meanwhile you got "Alejandro," [back to "Alejandro"] which takes this bright. Latin-flavored, sunshiny, and let's be honest, inconsequential summer song, and gives it this bleak, dank video shot on the set of Dogville, and for some reason, it's full of imagery from...I think Russia? Okay, a Russian-themed video for a Mexican-themed song based on a Swedish band. There's a cultural mish-mash thing going on here that I am just not getting. I couldn't be that culturally confusing if I tried.
Todd: [playing] When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie, that's amore
[Ends with Japanese-style riff]
(Vive la France!)
Todd (VO): Now, the "Alejandro" video keeps up Lady Gaga's chosen persona as a rapidly degenerating Madonna replicant, which means it lifts elements from "Like a Prayer," "Express Yourself," "Justify My Love," and large chunks of Evita.
Todd: Don't cry for me, Alejandro...
Todd (VO): But I'll say this. At least there's nothing too blatant about... [Gaga turns around like...] whoa-ho-hooooo, whoa, spoke too soon.
- Video for Madonna - "Vogue" intercut with "Alejandro"
- Madonna: Vogue, vogue, let your body move to the music
- Hey, hey, hey
Todd: And because we're all about lazily one-upping music videos from 1990, how is she gonna match Madonna's famous cone-bra? With machine guns. Well, that's just silly...and I've seen it.
- Clip from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
- Austin: Machine gun jubblies? How did I miss those, baby?
Back to "Alejandro"
Todd (VO): Well, at least in the "Vogue" scene, she looks halfway decent for the first time in a while.
Todd: But I feel like I've overemphasized that in my past reviews. So she doesn't choose to be conventionally attractive. That's fine. She's free to choose her own sense of style... [various shots of Gaga's style] outside of society's norms or even my own personal preferences. She doesn't have to sell herself to me. She can do whatever she wants. But why?!
Todd (VO): Why?! Why?! Why?! My God, she's so ugly in this, you'd think she was trying to win an Oscar. [Split image of Charlize Theron as herself and as Aileen Wuornos in Monster] I thought the other videos were bad, but I wasn't counting on her wearing [image of...] t.A.T.u.'s discarded undies, and...honey, what have you done with your hair? Oh honey, that is so not flattering. And there's a whole lot of Catholic imagery...and I guess in this scene, she's a nun and she's being raped maybe by a whole crowd of maniacs. Now if I recall correctly, [clip from...] that's also the plot of Nightmare on Elm Street 5, so if she gives birth to Freddy Krueger in the next video, remember...
Todd: [points thumb at himself] I called it.
- Clip of Freddy Krueger with "Monster"
(Next single. I guarantee it.)
Todd (VO): Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the song. In fact, it's the diametric opposite of the song, which is notably anti-sex. Seriously, poor Alejandro. She won't even let him say her name.
- Gaga: Don't call my name...
Todd (VO): And meanwhile, she's off having orgies with a bunch of bowl-cut gay soldiers.
Todd: Yep. Been there.
Todd (VO): Okay, so why is she being tag-teamed by a bunch of shirtless Moe Howards wearing bike shorts? Well, according to a number of articles I've read...
Todd: "Alejandro" is actually meant as a critique of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and a depiction of the plight of gays in the military. Right. Right. Can we see her deep-throat those rosaries again?
- Shows the clip
Todd (VO): Mmm-hmmm. Again? [Again] Uh-huh. One more time? [You got it] Alright. Now backwards? [Whatever you say] Forwards? [Yesiree, Bob] Five times in a row? [Just that]
Todd: I see. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an unfair and outdated policy which inflicts psychological strain and undue marginalization on a large portion of our armed forces. Wow, thank you for that insight, Lady Gaga. Yeah, at this point in her career, Lady Gaga is quickly going the route of Marilyn Manson for me. It used to be shocking, now it's just cute. [like to a baby] Who's being provocative? You are. You are being provocative. You want a cookie?
Todd (VO): Yeah, I think I'm done being surprised by Lady Gaga. She has used up her shock potential at this point. I genuinely don't believe there's anything she can do ...[film burns up] ah! Ah! Ah! Oh God!
Todd: Okay, well, besides that, I really didn't get much of a reaction out of this video, and unless you're a gay-rubber-S&M-military-nun fetishist, I can't really imagine why you would. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's not good enough to justify the hype. And I'm not the only one who's starting to notice this either. Both M.I.A. and Joanna Newsom have pointed out that Lady Gaga is just not nearly as weird as her reputation suggests and they're both right. Lady Gaga is not as original or as experimental as M.I.A. or Joanna Newsom. In fact, why am I not listening to M.I.A. or Joanna Newsom? Let's play that.
- Video of M.I.A. - "Boyz"
Todd (VO): No, this sucks.
- Video of Joanna Newsom - "The Sprout and the Bean"
Todd (VO): Oh, God no. Turn that off.
Todd: Okay, you win this round, Lady Gaga, but you still haven't cleared yourself with me yet. You better shape up...'cause it's very important to your career that you impress me...personally. Yeah.
- Ace of Base: [over "Alejandro" video] And it opened up my eyes
- I saw the sign
Closing tag song: Billy Joel - "Only the Good Die Young"
"Alejandro" is owned by Interscope Records
This video is owned by me