Trying to narrow down the top Lady Gaga’s song and decoding it has never been an easy task. The pop superstar has released multiple albums with numerous hits, and many of her hits are critically adored.
Telephone, one of her top tracks in her third EP, The Fame Monster (2009), helped cement her place in the pop history; the song received 15 million online views within less than five days.
The Telephone song was originally written by Lady Gaga for Britney Spears’ Circus, her 6th studio album but Britney rejected it. Later Gaga recorded it as a collaboration with Beyonce.
The song begins unassumingly, with Lady Gaga singing in a solemn voice over a humming harp melody which changes gradually into a pounding beat. Gaga seems to be in a club, but her boyfriend is calling relentlessly.
She is dancing to her favorite song and drinking; she can’t talk.
The song is constructed as a duet, and Beyonce appears first in the middle verse, where she sings through a brief interlude and later backs the chorus.
Telephone features an expanded bridge, a simple verse-rap, and an epilogue where an unknown voice announces that the telephone line is unreachable at that time.
Probably you know how Gaga makes a sandwich –lots of mayo – but how did she make her famous mini-movie ‘Telephone’? This pop superstar admits that there is always a hidden meaning in her music and she is always trying to convolute her audience idea of what pop music should be.
Telephone’s lyrics closely related to Lady Gaga (the singer) preferring having fun on the dance floor to answering a phone call.
She later explains to her lover that she left her heart and head on the dance floor. Note that the phone addressed in the song lyrics isn’t a physical phone.
It is a little ‘person’ or ‘voice’ in her head telling her (Gaga) to continue working hard.
The singer revealed that this was the ‘fear’ – that her phone is ringing and her head is ringing too. Whether it’s just thoughts in your head or a telephone, that’s another fear.
According to this megastar, Telephone, a Quentin Tarantino-inspired video is a commentary on American Culture. Gaga intended to do exactly what she revealed with the famed Paparazzi – Take a decidedly pop track which has a shallow meaning, and use it to create a deeper meaning.
She successfully illustrated that America is full of young people inundated with technology and information and turned this simple idea into something more of a commentary on the nature of country America is.
Gaga’s Telephone garnered positive reviews from different music critics. For instance, Music OMH’s Michael Hubbard admitted that the song was the best thing about The Famed Monster.
Besides, he complimented the excellent bridge and the song ending where the caller gets through to Gaga’s voicemail.
Popjustice compared Telephone to Gwen’s “What You Waiting For?” and revealed that the song ‘surpasses’ other bunch of hits in the pop arena. The song’s structure is quite exciting, according to Popjustiice, and Beyonce’s contribution makes everything about the song seem fine.
Michael Woods of Los Angeles Times believed that Telephone is a carefully-considered meditation on how disgusting it is when a man keeps on calling you while having fun in a club.
Lady Gaga’s Telephone attracted negative criticism too. Immediately after the Telephone video release (in 2010), the pop video became a global talking point. Gaga’s all-dancing, all-singing, mass-murder, and lesbian-prison-sex promo for Telephone stirred up some sort of pop sensation not witnessed for more than a decade.
The video featured on the front pages of newspapers, television news bulletins, and predictably tore through the internet – breaking records on YouTube, inspired frame-by-frame analysis and blog commentaries.
The video stirred a heated debate on whether or not the video could be accepted as a work of pop art or simply salacious sensationalism that threatens the society’s moral fabric. After all, Lady Gaga herself explained that Telephone is simply a commentary on the kind of country America is.
The video reveals Beyonce and Gaga ridding off into the sunset following random outfit changes, semi-naked dance routines, and a near-incoherent plot centering on mass poisoning and infidelity.
These scenes might force someone to believe that America is indeed a nation straining under its decadence, creating a jaded, thrill-focused, attention-deficit generation that can only communicate via irony.
According to Neil McCormick of Telegraph, this isn’t the message President Obama would have sent out as of that time.
The video failed to reveal the times American were living and, according to McCormick, Gaga’s Telephone video refers back to excesses witnessed in the 1980s, when bigger was better.
Besides, Armond Whites, a film and music critic for the New York Press and The Times’ Sarah Hajibagheri were not impressed with the Telephone.
Sarah believed that Beyonce’s vocals alongside the ringing phone add to the ‘utter chaos.’ on the other hand, Armond believed that the Telephone celebrates the refusal to communicate and to heartlessly, mindlessly indulge in pop culture.
In the yearly Pazz and Jop mass critic poll of 2010’s best music, Gaga’s Telephone ranked number 16.
The Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield placed the song number three on his list of top 25 singles of the year. The same year, Telephone was included in the year-end lists of top songs created by PopMatters and MTV News.
In 2010, the song was nominated (in the special category of favorite tracks) at the Nickelodeon Choice Awards in Australia and the 37th People’s Choice Awards.
A year later, Telephone was nominated for the Top Pop Collaboration with Vocals at Annual Grammy Awards. The same year, ASCAP Pop Music Awards recognized Telephone as the most performed song.
Beyonce and Lady Gaga have never sung Telephone together on a live show, but they performed individually.
Lady Gaga performed Telephone during the BRIT Awards on Feb 16th, 2010. She also added the song to 2010-11 The Monster Ball Tour’s set-list.
Other occasions when she performed the Telephone include a Japanese TV show ‘Music Station’ (2010) and Radio 1’s Big Weekend (2011).
On June 26th, 2011, Beyonce first performed ‘Telephone’ during the Glastonbury Festival. The song was also performed during Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball tour in 2012.
Lastly, Gaga performed Telephone in 2017 as part of her biggest hits during her Super Bowl LI show.
In 2010, a demo of Gaga’s Telephone featuring Britney Spear’s vocals leaked onto the internet. The demo compared with Britney’s 2007 ‘Piece of Me.’
Rob Sheffield praised this version and placed it in number 20 of his top 25 tracks list in 2010.
Little Mix also blended Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” with ‘Telephone’ during the 8th series of the British X Factor. Later, Lea Michel and CharicePempengco covered this song for Glee, an American Show.
‘Telephone’ marked a critical time in Gaga’s music career when she used music to illustrate the pop culture and probably, according to her, reveal the true American nation.
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