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.
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