Whatever you think of Lady Gaga’s music — and, in the case of this particular Flavorpill representative, at least, that’s not a great deal — she’s always been kind of interesting in an aesthetic sense, with her meat dresses, crazy make-up, and penchant for getting around in very little clothing. Which is why the video for her new single “Edge of Glory” has fans and critics alike scratching their heads. There’s no tuxedoed zombies, no Alexander Skarsgård, and nothing to annoy the Catholics. Instead, there’s Gaga climbing out of a burning New York apartment, gyrating a bit on the fire escape, hanging with E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons (RIP) on the stoop, walking down the street, and, um, that’s it.
However, it turns out that perhaps the video wasn’t meant to be like this. According to the New York Post (and yes, we know, take anything they say with a grain of salt), the video was originally supposed to be a mermaid-themed big budget extravaganza, but the idea was ditched after various disagreements between Gaga and director Joseph Kahn. The result: Gaga took over directorial duties herself. Kahn latter has certainly been quick to distance himself from the finished product – he tweeted yesterday that he did “NOT direct Lady Gaga’s ‘Edge of Glory’ video… Lady Gaga did.”
Whatever the story behind the “Edge of Glory,” the finished product is definitely pretty underwhelming in comparison to her previous videos, which were undeniably visually impressive pieces of work. Even her notoriously fanatical fans aren’t impressed, some of them dealing with their disappointment in the 21st century way by harassing Kahn on Twitter, leading to his forlorn observation last night that “some Gaga fans tweeting me here are really mean and nasty” (although he did add that “others are beautiful and wonderful”).
Meanwhile, critics seem unsure what to make of it all. There’s the occasional vote of confidence — Vulture suggests that “despite being, in the traditional sense, boring,” the video is a triumph because it means “we finally get to catch our breath for a moment.” We say: bollocks to that. Gaga is pretty much hoist by her own petard here — she relies so heavily on her flamboyance that when it’s gone, there’s pretty much nothing left. The Emperor’s New Clothes, and all that. And worse, having nothing to look at draws attention to the music, which, as ever, is by far the least interesting thing about Lady Gaga. Unless overblown, overproduced, sub-’80s power ballads are your thing. In which case, knock yourself out!