Let's begin by thinking back to a simpler time: When Lady Gaga was just a charismatic, fashion-forward lady with sharp hair and good accessories. "Poker Face" was, for many, our first introduction to Stefani Germanotta. Back then, this young lady seemed almost normal -- or, at the very least, no stranger than any other promising young pop starlet. Hell, Miley Cyrus' last video was crazier than the clip for "Poker Face".
Once Gaga had got us all used to her, and her dance-pop stylings had been embraced by all -- even middle America -- she promptly went about pissing off Republicans with as much pro-gay activity as possible. It was glorious; right-wing Christians were enraged. Then there was the meat dress.
After that, Gaga pushed things to the next level by arriving at the MTV VMAs in a giant egg, and subsequently releasing one of the first mainstream pop singles in history to directly support the LGBT community ("No matter gay, straight or bi/ Lesbian, transgendered life/ I'm on the right track, baby/ I was born to survive"). It was masterfully pulled off. Gaga's message ultimately reached more people because she waited until she was super-famous to put it out there.
Looking at her career up to this point, the Lady Gaga model of pushing the aesthetics and content of mainstream pop music involves easing the public into something they might not be ready for, getting them used to it, taking a breather and giving the world a break, and then coming back with something that pushes boundaries even further.
Gaga's most recent break was extended because of hip surgery, but that extra time might not have been a bad thing for the public, given that this week -- as she prepares for the release of new single "Applause" (due Aug. 19) and November album, Artpop -- Gaga released a video titled "The Abramovic Method." It's NSFW and it would be more at home in the MOMA than on MTV, but girl has gone next-next level this time:
For those of you at work, unable to view the video of the naked lady recreating a variety of works by renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic, here's a breakdown of what Gaga is presenting us with in "The Abramovic Method":
0:11: Gaga lies on giant, bare floorboards, wearing white pajamas. She sings a single note for 27 seconds straight and then continues to make these sounds for the rest of the video. (We bet she can breathe underwater, too).
0:40: Gaga stands in a river, wearing overalls and pointy yellow antennas over her eyes and drinking rain water. Her hair is a very dark shade of brown now, so we know she's not fucking around.
1:14: Gaga and Marina Abramovic sit back-to-back on wooden high chairs, in the shallow part of the river, wearing overalls. It does not look like a fun picnic.
1:25: Gaga decides it's time for a blind-folded, naked, slow-stroll in a field, arms in the air. (Note: despite all the hullaballoo around her nudity here, it actually feels very much like we've seen her naked before.)
1:35: Gaga, still naked except for a pair of rain boots, bends over in the forest holding a tree branch. We hope she put on insect repellent this morning!
1:42: Inside, Gaga spoons with a giant crystal, while lying perfectly still on regular-sized floorboards.
1:49: Still naked, Gaga sits atop the giant crystal, with her bangs combed over her face.
1:56: Gaga's entire head and shoulders are now surrounded with or covered by smaller crystals. She blinks. Shit is eerie.
2:20: The end!
So, what should we make of all this? The short answer is that Gaga is trying to bring highbrow culture into pop music. Given her success spreading LGBT-related issues to areas of the country that had previously given the matter little thought (beyond what they heard in church), we'd say this might turn into one of the most interesting cultural experiments we've seen in a while.
This isn't Abramovic's first foray into music. She was the inspiration for, and appears in, Jay-Z's "Picasso Baby" video. She's also buddies with James Franco. But "The Abramovic Method" is a mere taster of what we have on the horizon from Gaga -- she and Abramovic have, apparently, put together an entire art show together, titled artRave, that will go on display sometime later this year.
Don't panic though. From what we've heard of Artpop so far, it sounds very much like standard dance music -- which is probably the sugar to help all the high-art go down. Either way, we can't wait to see where Gaga is going with all this.