Katy Perry burst onto our airwaves and TV screens in a blur of same-sex kisses and “cherry Chapstick” around the same time as Lady Gaga made her mark on the world with “Just Dance”. I had a preference for the former song at the time, however Gaga has proved she’s much more than a flash in the pan and has become one of my favourite artists, in pretty much every sense of the word.
Perry, on the other hand, is talked about more for her engagement to controversial comedian Russell Brand and star turn as Smurfette in the new Smurfs movie than for her singing talent.
No doubt she has a great voice, but her “Calfornia Gurls” video clip didn’t really live up to the hype, and it feels a bit forced.
Gaga’s clip for “Alejandro”, however, was more than I could’ve ever imagined it to be. Considering the song has an almost calypso vibe to it, I was expecting something more along the lines of her mediocre clip for the equally mediocre “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say).” Granted, it was only her third single, and her record label was trying to push a mainstream image of her as opposed to the eccentric megastar we know her as today.
The highly sexualised and borderline blasphemous video evokes tones of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, “Rain”, “Vogue” and “Human Nature” as well as her film Evita. There are also references to Cabaret and Joan of Arc, in the red and white habit she wears. While I think it is an awesome and quite moving video that will stand the test of time, I admit Gaga has drawn a lot of her material for it from the one she is so often compared to, Madonna. I’ve never really noticed it before now…
It is certainly “like an 8+ minute homage to Madonna… with some gay Nazis thrown in for good measure”, according to the National Post, and even though director Steven Klein defended the video from religious groups, saying, “The religious symbolism is not meant to denote anything negative, but represents the character’s battle between the dark forces of this world and spiritual salvation of the Soul. Thus at the end of the film, she chooses to be a nun… she is withdrawing her senses from the world of evil and going inward towards prayer and contemplation.”
But when Gaga herself says that the video is about “a celebration of my love and appreciation for the gay community,” which, to me, signals the “dark forces of this world” could perhaps be the views of the Church towards gays and that “withdrawing… from the world of evil” is moving away from the Church.
So is Katy Perry right when she Tweets, “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke”? It may be right (in some peoples’ eyes; certainly not mine. I’m all for a bit of religious imagery to spice up a music video or two), but it’s also hypocritical.
Perry comes from a religious background, but surely that background should be null and void when she releases “I Kissed A Girl”, gets engaged to a former sex and drug addict, and whose latest video features her naked on a cloud of fairy floss, and then tries to comment on religious good taste. To borrow another quote from the National Post, “I’m not sure if the girl who’s lactating whipped cream in her latest video should be judging other people’s lack of taste.”
In her defence, Perry did take to the radio in response to the controversy, saying “sexuality [as per her videos] is not the same as spirituality [as in Gaga’s videos].”
As Celebitchy notes, Perry released her “California Gurls” video on the same day the “Alejandro” clip came out. Jealous, much?
Here is a juxtaposition of both lady’s clips, so you can decide who should win this war. Vote one, Lady Gaga!
The Debut: I Kissed a Girl VS. Just Dance.
Hot N Cold VS. Poker Face.
The Love Interest Cameo: Waking Up in Vegas with Joel Moore VS. Paparazzi with Alexander Skarsgard.
The Collaboration: If We Ever Meet Again with Timbaland VS. Telephone with Beyonce.
California Gurls VS. Alejandro.