Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lady Gaga

I was asked by one of my students to post my recent thoughts on the song "Bloody Mary" by Lady Gaga, so I decided I would post it here. This fragment is a part of a much larger presentation on Gaga's "queer space." It isn't much, but it will probably be a paper one day.

Lady Gaga addresses the theme of death, I think, with a track on her newest album called “Bloody Mary,” a track which has recently been proposed (by her fans) as a “Halloween single.” In that song, Gaga sings, “I’ll dance dance dance / With my hands hands hands / Above my head head head / Like Jesus said.” This line always evokes strong imagery for me. When one considers lyrics, I think a simple question to ask, before “What does it mean?”, is “Why would she choose to write these lyrics?”, or “Why would she choose to sing these lyrics?” I wonder, why would she use such language? What did Jesus say? He certainly never talked about dancing with hands above his head, at least not in my recollection. He did tell his disciples, though, that they would have to carry their cross. Was Christ’s experience on the cross a kind of dance, with his own hands above his head?

The song is filled with agonizing screams, choir-like voices incanting the name “Gaga,” and the singer stating, “I won’t cry for you / I won’t crucify the things you do.” I read this song as a kind of defiant stance by the singer, suggesting that, though she be crucified (perhaps “carrying her cross,” as Christ said, a kind of “dance,” I suppose, one that demands that her hands be over her head as their nailed into the cross), she will not crucify others. Though she be judged, she will not judge. Here I must quote from Peter Kline: Gaga is “a figure we’d like to make capital off of (whether religious or cultural), but who instead confronts us with our own violence, and in doing so calls us to freedom.”

Later in the song, Gaga sings, “We are not just art for Michelangelo / To carve he can’t rewrite the agro / Of my furied heart I’ll wait / On mountain tops in Paris cold / Je ne veux pas mourire tout seule.” Here, perhaps she is pointing to her humanity (she is flesh, not art, no matter what others--or she--might say), what others might call the “human condition,” one of frustration (of “agro,” as shecalls it). Still, she will wait, as she does not want to die alone. Who is she waiting for?