So I just watched Lady Gaga’s new video for what will most assuredly be her chart-obliterating blockbuster song Alejandro. Much like the Telephone vid, it clocks in at 8 minutes. Maybe you saw hints at the MTV Movie Awards, but if you’re a fan of a) Lady Gaga’s music b) ripped abs c) excess d) boundary crossing e) gender ambiguity f) sexual taboos or g) Madonna, you probably ought to check this one out. It’s gorgeous and completely mystifying. Now I like (and am consistently distracted by) almost anything shiny, so this was a treat for me. It was a distraction from a distraction, wrapped inside a distraction – totally delicious. See the groundbreaking videos I grew up watching were stop-motion ditties from Peter Gabriel (Sledgehammer), computer-generated wizardry from Dire Straits (Money for Nothing) and ones with cool hash-marked illustrations (A-Ha’s Take On Me). The genre was new & pretty exciting. Nor did anyone think twice – because there was no TIVO or You Tube – about going to someone’s house to WAIT until Paula Abdul came on dancing with that mouse. Understanding videos is an art, nor is it one that I will ever master. Sometimes we really need everything spelled out – and fortunately Madonna took care of this years ago, hitting us hard with imagery that’ll never go away. But having seen Lady Gaga’s latest, I am quite confident that I myself could now make a music video. Especially since people are always asking me how exactly one does this. So, I’ve developed a formula. A recipe, if you will. All you need to do is this: find yourself a singer. Male or female, doesn’t matter. Not even a singer really, just a performer (they’re not really going to sing anyway). If your singer is a girl, she should have plenty of lipstick (color: triage) and lots of eyeliner (this goes for the guys too) and it should all be in stark contrast to her features which, ideally, will be somehow exotic. Then, get out an encyclopedia and go immediately to World History. Or you can Google it. Just look up “what caused wars?” and you will be presented with a list of items. On this list, somewhere near the top should be “religion”. Now write that down. Then look up “Prominent 19th and 20th Century Social Issues” – and here you’ll probably find the word “sex” listed somewhere at the top. Highlight this. Then try to remember what your mother said girls in too much makeup & not enough clothing ended up looking like. Chances are, one of the words she used was “hooker”. Remember this word. What kind of guys didn’t moms like? “Thugs”. Bingo. They will be another key ingredient in your video, but the thugs you want will have to be professionally-trained dancers with top-notch hair. Then throw “smoking” and “drinking” on to your list, because vice is key. So you have the basic style list for your video: Religion, Sex, Smoking, Drinking, Hookers & Thugs. All you do now is tell a story with your hot guy/ girl and have them confront/spurn/embrace each of these 6 elements visually. Be sure to ask your actors to wear an expression of rage or rapture throughout. The plot itself shouldn’t matter. You can tell Little Red Riding Hood, Ping the Duck or even Bambi – as long as you’ve got your elements, you’ll be fine. Then just tell the story in front of a camera.When you’re done, cut your video up into three pieces and put the middle section first and the first section in the middle – this confuses people and it makes them watch it two or three times. It’s really simple. Now, if this all sounds too difficult, requiring far too much cleanup, simply watch the Lady Gaga video. It’s awesome, it’ll be cheaper for you, and probably a lot more fun.
1) Poker Face
3) Bad Romance