Government Hooker

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"Government Hooker"
Song by Lady Gaga from the album Born This Way
Recorded 2010; Studio at the Palms
(Las Vegas, Nevada)
Genre
Length 4:14
Label
Writer
Producer
  • Lady Gaga
  • DJ White Shadow
  • DJ Snake
  • Fernando Garibay
Born This Way track listing
"Born This Way"
(2)
"Government Hooker"
(3)
"Judas"
(4)

"Government Hooker" is a song by American recording artist Lady Gaga from her second studio album, Born This Way (2011). It was composed and produced by Gaga, Fernando Garibay, and DJ White Shadow. "Government Hooker" was previously an unused track that Shadow created with DJ Snake. Recording sessions took place in 2010 at the Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The song is a synthpop track incorporating influences from many electronic sub-genres including techno, trance, post-disco, and industrial. Its themes relate to female sexual empowerment, expressed as a metaphor for the supposed relationship between actress Marilyn Monroe and United States president John F. Kennedy. Critics appreciated the song's risqué and dark nature, as well as its music. Although never released as a single, "Government Hooker" charted in South Korea and the United States, where it peaked at number sixteen on the Hot Dance/Electronic Digital Songs.

Background[edit]

"Government Hooker" is a collaborative effort between Gaga, Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow. Recording sessions took place in 2010 at the Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada.[1] "Government Hooker" began as an old recording by DJ White Shadow and DJ Snake. Shadow increased the tempo of the beat after conversing with Vince Herbert "about faster songs". Herbert particularly enjoyed the prototype of "Government Hooker", more so than the other beats that he heard during the session. Gaga wrote the lyrics of "Government Hooker" shortly after first hearing the beat. During writing, security guard Peter Van Der Veen was recruited to sing in lieu of computerized vocals. Shadow noticed Van Der Veen's thick, distinctive Dutch accent while he was browsing through the lyrics.[2] Alongside "Scheiße" and a remix of "Born This Way", "Government Hooker" was first publicly played at a Thierry Mugler fashion show in Paris, France on March 2, 2011, as Gaga made her runway debut.[3]

Composition[edit]

Monroe's alleged romance with US president John F. Kennedy (pictured) was referenced in "Government Hooker".

"Government Hooker" is an uptempo[4] synthpop[5] song with elements of trance,[6] techno,[7] post-disco,[8] and industrial.[9] Los Angeles Times columnist Randall Roberts heard it as an homage to the German electronic group Kraftwerk, and noted "weird Casio-tone circuit-bending".[8] To Evan Sawdey of PopMatters, the song contained amalgamated elements of Britney Spears' "Gimme More" (2007) and the New Order song "Blue Monday" (1983).[10] According to the music sheet published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing on Musicnotes.com, "Government Hooker" is written in the time signature of common time, with a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of F minor. Gaga's voice spans the tonal nodes of F3 to C5. The song has a basic sequence of D–Fm–D–Fm during the verses, B–D–A–E during the bridge and Bm–Fm–Bm–Fm during the chorus, as its chord progression.[11] The song primarily explores themes of female sexual empowerment.[6][10]

"Government Hooker" begins as Gaga sings in an operatic fashion—backed by industrial synthesizers—and transcends into an electro-pop Gregorian chant.[12][13] The song then progresses into the chorus: "I can be good / I can be sex / I can be anything / I can be everything / I can be mom."[10] A male vocalist accompanies the singer's lyrics, "Unless you want to be man / Unless you want to hold hands / Unless you want to be dad".[10] After Gaga sings "I'm gonna drink my tears and cry / 'cos I know you love me baby" during the techno-inspired bridge,[10][14] she alludes to the alleged affair between Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy with the lyrics "Put your hands on me / John F. Kennedy / I'll make you squeal baby", singing in an impassive and monotonous manner.[14]

Reception[edit]

A woman, sporting a ram-horned headpiece, stands behind a man sitting in a chair.
Gaga performing "Government Hooker" on the Born This Way Ball.

"Government Hooker" garnered acclaim from music critics. Roberts asserted that the song's dynamic was a quirky exception to the contravening nature of Born This Way.[8] Chris Richards of The Washington Post chose the song as a highlight on the album commenting that "'The Edge of Glory' makes a song like 'Government Hooker' seem much more daring than it actually is".[15] Caryn Ganz of Spin said that Lady Gaga's eccentric and outlandish persona—the so-called "nutty come-ons"—were apparent in the "grimy doom disco" of "Government Hooker".[16] Christian Blauvelt of Entertainment Weekly described the song's chorus as "an infectious raver with a killer hook [and it] is pretty irresistible."[13]

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described it as "filthy-fabulous",[17] while Jocelyn Vena of MTV called the song a "massive club track".[6] Rolling Stone journalist Jody Rosen felt that the production of the "requisite kinky song" was captivating, including its "shape-shifting assemblage of buzzes, beeps and clattering beats".[7] Dan Martin of NME wrote that "Government Hooker" is inimical to the campy nature of the album, and felt that as the track starts, Born This Way effectively transcends into "claustrophobic" techno beats. "This is freeform and industrial and quite mad", Martin noted.[9] Billboard writer Kerri Mason said that the track has "opera vocalizing, minimal techno bleeps, a JFK reference, and conflicting definitions of self as seductive product".[18] To Ian Wade of BBC Music, the eerie operatic entrance of "Government Hooker" gives way to a "Casiotone throb".[19] Sawdey commended the sexual lyrics of the song, and insisted that the "gender-bending" chorus was the best since The Killers' "Somebody Told Me".[10]

Despite not being released as a single, "Government Hooker" entered the charts in two countries: In South Korea, the song debuted at number fifteen on the Gaon Digital Chart selling 13,976 copies,[20] while in the United States, "Government Hooker" debuted at number sixteen on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Digital Songs.[21]

Live performances[edit]

Gaga performed "Government Hooker" at the Clinton Foundation's Decade of Difference celebration at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California.[22][23] The song was featured in a promotional video for the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards on August 18, 2011.[24] "Government Hooker" was included on the setlist of the Born This Way Ball, Gaga's third headlining tour. The song was performed as the second song in the setlist, after "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" which opened the show. After a brief interlude Gaga appeared from one of the doors in the castle and walked down the castle steps. She preceded to take part in a sexual routine with one of her dancers. During the breakdown, Gaga pulled a gun out of a draw and shot the dancer and then sung the chorus one more time and telling the crowd, 'Welcome to the Born This Way Ball' and shot the castle gates open.[25]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Born This Way.[1]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
position
South Korean International Singles Chart[20] 15
US Hot Dance/Electronic Digital Songs[21] 16

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Born This Way (liner notes). Lady Gaga. Interscope Records. 2011. p. 4. B0015373-02. 
  2. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (March 4, 2011). "Lady Gaga Producer Calls 'Government Hooker' A 'Beast'". MTV News. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  3. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (March 2, 2011). "Lady Gaga Makes Runway Debut At Mugler Fashion Show". MTV News. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Lady Gaga Debuts 'Government Hooker,' Walks Runway at Mugler Show". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. March 3, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ Masley, Ed (May 23, 2011). "Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way:' SB 1070, Jesus, etc.". The Arizona Republic. Gannett Company. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Vena, Jocelyn (March 2, 2011). "Lady Gaga's 'Government Hooker' Makes Fashion-Show Debut". MTV News. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Rosen, Jody (May 18, 2011). "Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way': A Track-by-Track Breakdown". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Roberts, Randall (May 20, 2011). "Album review: Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way'". Los Angeles Times. Gannett Company. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Martin, Dan (May 18, 2011). "Lady Gaga, 'Born This Way' – Track-By-Track Album Review". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Sawdey, Evan (May 27, 2011). "Lady Gaga: Born This Way". PopMatters. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  11. ^ Germanotta, Stefani; Garibay, Fernando (2011). "Digital Sheet Music – Lady Gaga – Government Hooker". Musicnotes.com. Sony/ATV Music Publishing. 
  12. ^ Kot, Greg (May 20, 2011). "Review – Born This Way". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Blauvelt, Christian (March 2, 2011). "Lady Gaga previews new song 'Government Hooker' at Mugler fashion show: Listen to it here!". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Pham, Sherisse (March 2, 2011). "Government Hooker and the Politics of Lady Gaga". American Broadcasting Company. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  15. ^ Richards, Chris (May 20, 2011). "Review – Born This Way". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  16. ^ Ganz, Caryn (May 23, 2011). "Lady Gaga, 'Born This Way'". Spin. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  17. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (May 21, 2011). "Lady Gaga: Born This Way". Slant Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  18. ^ Mason, Kerri (May 23, 2011). "Lady Gaga 'Born This Way': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  19. ^ Wade, Ian (May 19, 2011). "Lady Gaga Born This Way Review". BBC Music. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "Gaon Digital Chart – 2011.05.22~2011.05.28" (in Korean). Korea Music Content Industry Association. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Lady Gaga – Chart history: Dance/Electronic Digital Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  22. ^ Gunderson, Edna (October 17, 2011). "Bono, Gaga, Chesney perform in Bill Clinton's honor". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  23. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (October 17, 2011). "Lady Gaga, Bono Rock For Clinton Foundation". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Lady Gaga's MTV 'VMA' Promo to Air During 'Jersey Shore'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. August 17, 2011. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Lady Gaga Debuts Born This Way Ball in South Korea". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. April 27, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 

External links[edit]