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Summary:

Okay, so last week I kvetched about OK Go’s newest video, which is visually awesome but isn’t much of an actual music video, especially since there’s no real effort being made to tell a story. This week, wow: Lady Gaga, with guest collaborator Beyonce, has gone […]

Okay, so last week I kvetched about OK Go’s newest video, which is visually awesome but isn’t much of an actual music video, especially since there’s no real effort being made to tell a story. This week, wow: Lady Gaga, with guest collaborator Beyonce, has gone in the completely opposite direction for the video for Telephone.

If Telephone didn’t say right at the beginning that it was directed by Jonas Akerlund, then the obvious suspect would have been Quentin Tarantino. After all, the video is an epic nine-minute homage to 1970s grindhouse and women-in-prison films with lots of strange visual devices. That puts it right in Tarantino’s wheelhouse — and they also use Tarantino’s wheels: the distinctive “Pussy Wagon” truck from Kill Bill, in which Tarantino can still be seen cruising around sometimes, was loaned to the production after Gaga told Tarantino her idea for the video over lunch.

Despite feeling like the product of another person, though, Telephone still demonstrates the wild creativity of the Gaga brand, with all the usual components of a Gaga video — lavish costumes, odd behavior and fierce dance numbers — reporting for duty.

The budget for Telephone is clearly huge — tons of extras, several locations, not to mention close to a dozen new outfits from the Haus of Gaga. Which is probably why this video features a perhaps over-the-top amount of product placement. I mean, the song is called Telephone, I’m not surprised that a cell phone partner (Virgin Mobile) was brought in. But Polaroid (which recently brought Lady Gaga on as a creative director) gets its plus, as do several other brands (just one I spotted — an awkward plug for dating site Plentyoffish.com).

Hats made from telephones don’t pay for themselves, but between this and OK Go’s reliance on State Farm Insurance sponsorship, it’s looking like a real trend is emerging in the music video world. Used to be music videos were out to sell albums — now, they seem to be selling everything but.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Fact or Fiction: Where Is Branded Online Video Going?

  1. She also plugged Nemiroff vodka in her Bad Romance video, which was what first piqued my interest about product placement in music videos (which, I’ve argued all along, are themselves just advertising).

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  2. [...] The Awl’s point that its subject matter is a little obvious is well-taken. However, by my pre-established standards for a good music video, Born Free is successful: It tells a story and the content of the video fits with the [...]

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  3. [...] It’s not art, like iamamiwhoiam, and it’s not even that interesting, a quality which Lady Gaga never fails to achieve. When MTV calls out the video’s references as being Madonna, Michael Jackson and George [...]

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  4. [...] It’s not art, like iamamiwhoiam, and it’s not even that interesting, a quality which Lady Gaga never fails to achieve. When MTV calls out the video’s references as being Madonna, Michael Jackson and George [...]

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  5. [...] Darker and grimmer than past Gaga videos, with a less diverse array of wacky outfits than usual but a heavier emphasis on dancing as a trade-off, Alejandro doesn’t show the same interest in storytelling that the video for Telephone. [...]

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