Judas (Lady Gaga song)

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"Judas"
The word "Judas" is written in capital red letters on a dark brown background. Below is a red cross with a black heart in the middle.
Single by Lady Gaga
from the album Born This Way
B-side Born This Way (Twin Shadow Remix)
Released April 15, 2011
Format
Recorded 2010; Gang Studios, Paris, France
Genre Electro house
Length 4:09
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Lady Gaga singles chronology
"Born This Way"
(2011)
"Judas"
(2011)
"The Edge of Glory"
(2011)

"Judas" is a song by American recording artist Lady Gaga, from her second studio album, Born This Way (2011). It was released four days ahead of schedule by Interscope Records on April 15, 2011. Written and produced by Lady Gaga and RedOne, "Judas" is a dance and electro house song about a woman in love with a man who betrayed her. It embodies the incidents that have haunted Gaga in the past, and its core meaning refers to the negative parts of her life that she cannot escape. Gaga has further explained that the song was also about honoring one's inner darkness in order to bring oneself into the light.[2] The artwork for the single was designed by Gaga in Microsoft Word. In spite of a polarizing impact on several religious groups, the song was generally well received by critics, who likened the song to "Bad Romance" with some noting it should have been the album's lead single.

"Judas" received generally positive reviews from most music critics. The song has a similar sound to Gaga's previous RedOne-produced tracks, including "Poker Face", "LoveGame", "Bad Romance", and "Alejandro". It contains three distinct hooks and a house-influenced break down. Gaga explained that the lines spoken during the breakdown talk about her as beyond redemption, regarding the traditional views of what a woman should be. "Judas" initially had a strong sales opening, but was less successful commercially in comparison to Gaga's previous singles. The song reached the top ten of the charts in most major music markets, and also reached the top of the charts in South Korea.

A music video for the song was filmed in April 2011, co-directed by Gaga and Laurieann Gibson and co-starring Norman Reedus. It has a Biblical storyline where Reedus played Judas Iscariot and Gaga played Mary Magdalene. The video portrays them as modern day missionaries going to Jerusalem. It included the Biblical story of Judas betraying Jesus, and ended with Gaga as Magdalene getting stoned to death. Before its release, the Catholic League condemned Gaga for the alleged use of religious imagery and her role in the video. However, critics generally praised the video, not finding any offensive content. The video was nominated for two awards at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Gaga has performed "Judas" on a number of television shows, including The Graham Norton Show, Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America's "Summer Concert Series", the French X Factor as well as on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Background[edit]

"'Judas' is a dance song, definitely, [...] I think 'Judas' is in the traditional RedOne/Gaga vein. It's great because it's a serious message, it's a little playful, but still serious, but still somehow you wind up dancing to it. That's what's great about her music. You know, like, my favorite songs of all time, dance songs, "Billie Jean", is a story you wouldn't think of singing but then you wind up dancing and singing the lyrics. I think that's the holy grail of music for me, which is dance."

Fernando Garibay, one of the producers of Born This Way, talking about the second single "Judas"[3]

"Judas" was revealed as the name of the second single in Gaga's interview for Vogue.[4] Gaga confirmed the release of "Judas" as the second single, on Ryan Seacrest's radio show on February 14, 2011, and also revealed RedOne as the co-producer of the song.[5] At the 53rd Grammy Awards, he told MTV News that if the previous single from Born This Way, the title track, polarized people, "Judas" was expected to shock them more.[3][6] On the talk show Last Call with Carson Daly, Gaga explained to the host that "Judas" was about always falling in love with the wrong man over and over again. "'Judas' is a very, very dark song. It's rad", she added.[2][7] With MSN Canada, Gaga revealed the metaphors and the meaning behind the song:

'Judas' is a metaphor and an analogy about forgiveness and betrayal and things that haunt you in your life and how I believe that it's the darkness in your life that ultimately shines and illuminates the greater light that you have upon you. Someone once said to me, 'If you have no shadows then you're not standing in the light.' So the song is about washing the feet of both good and evil and understanding and forgiving the demons from your past in order to move into the greatness of your future. I just like really aggressive metaphors—harder, thicker, darker—and my fans do as well. So it is a very challenging and aggressive metaphor, but it is a metaphor.[8]

Gaga further elaborated on the inspiration behind the song as walking towards the light force in her life and peering towards the devil in the back, while clutching onto the source of the light. "I sing about what a holy fool I am, and that although moments in my life are so cruel and relationships can be so cruel I’m still in love with Judas. I still go back again to those evil things," she said.[2] During her interview with Google, Gaga added to the song's meaning as honoring one's inner darkness in order to bring themselves into the light. One has to learn to forgive themselves in order to move on with their life.[2] With Popjustice she clarified that she has a lot of things that have haunted her from her past, including her choices, men, drug abuse, being afraid to go back to New York, confronting old romances. Hence "Judas" represented something that was not good for her, something she could not escape. Gaga said: "I keep going back and forth between the darkness and the light in order to understand who I am."[9]

Composition[edit]

Garibay said that "Judas" sounded similar to many of Gaga's previous singles, like "Poker Face", "LoveGame", "Bad Romance", and "Alejandro".[3] According to Jocelyn Vena of MTV, "Judas" finds Gaga in a similar territory music-wise but vocally she is in completely new territory; according to Popjustice, in the verses and pre-chorus, Gaga hurls herself into a decadent half-sung, half-rapped Jamaican Patois style."[9] Jason Gregory of Gigwise called the song a "heavy slice of electro-house of the highest order".[10] The song contains three hooks, and begins with Gaga singing the line "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, I'm in love with Judas", accompanied by building synths. This is followed by a thumping electronic beat, as Gaga sings, "Judahhh/ Juda-a-ah/ Gaga". The utterance of these words are reminiscent of the opening verse in "Bad Romance".[11] Gaga's vocals are partially spoken, and at times have a Caribbean accent. The first verse follows as: "When he comes to me I am ready/ I'll wash his feet with my hair if he needs/ Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain/ Even after three times, he betrays me/ I'll bring him down, a king with no crown."[12] The tone lightens up on the song's chorus, which is influenced by '80s pop in its melody, as the beat picks up a bit and Gaga sings, "I'm just a holy fool/ Oh, baby, it's so cruel/ But I'm still in love with Judas, baby."[11]

A 25 second sample of "Judas", where Gaga sings the chorus, which is followed by the tribal-techno influenced break down.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

After the second verse and chorus, the song features a break down influenced by house music. Gaga chants the lines in the same way she does in the middle of "Born This Way". Then she sings, "I wanna love you/ But something's pulling me away from you/ Jesus is my virtue, Judas is the demon I cling to, I cling to."[11] In this section, Gaga's vocals drew comparison to that of Rihanna's by Matthew Perpetua of Rolling Stone. He also added that her voice sounded less dark and dramatic and was full of "bubbly sweetness".[13] Popjustice wrote that the breakdown sounded like tribal-techno, and the whole song was "a turbo-charged electrogothic wrongness anthem".[9] Dan Martin from NME wrote that the breakdown was in the dubstep genre with the chorus being "pure-pop".[14] There were some similarities and influences of "Bad Romance" in the song, which Gaga said was deliberate. She explained that while sometimes it is important for her to push herself in new directions, she did want her characteristic sound to be imbibed in her records. "I wanted ['Judas'] to be an evolution from where I’ve been before but in terms of the formula I wanted there to be something about 'Judas' that reminded people of what I’ve done in the past," she added.[9] According to the sheet music published on Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is written in the time signature of common time, and is composed in the key of C minor with a tempo of 131 beats per minute.[15] Gaga's voice ranges from the tonal nodes of B3 to E5 and the song follows a basic sequence of A–Fm7–Cm–B–Cm as its chord progression.[15]

Gaga had posted some of the lyrics of the song in February 2011,[16] and next month she revealed more lyrics for "Judas" in the Google interview. Gaga also confirmed that the song was influenced by the Biblical Judas Iscariot.[12] According to Popjustice, lyrically on the surface "Judas" is a song about being double-crossed and contemplating revenge, but being repeatedly drawn to awfulness.[9] The middle eight of the song, with the lyrics "But in the cultural sense I just speak in future tense. Judas kiss me if offenced, or wear an ear condom next time", talks about Gaga being beyond the ability to redeem herself, in terms of the traditional views of what a woman is supposed to be. "But I don't want to redeem myself, because in the cultural sense I believe that I'm just before my time. And if you don't like it, wear an ear condom," she explained. The main portion of the song is about Gaga in private and the middle eight is about Gaga in public, two themes that are explored elsewhere on the parent album too.[9]

Artwork and release[edit]

In the 42nd episode of Gaga's web video series, called Transmission Gagavision, it was revealed that the single's accompanying cover artwork was designed by Gaga in Microsoft Word and featured a black background with the word "Judas" written in red capital letters in Impact font. Below it was a red Christian cross with a heart in the middle. Gaga photographed the design on her computer screen using her cellular telephone "for texture,"[17] which resulted in visible pixels on the letters and cross, as well as a faint reflection of her face and hands holding the phone, to appear on the cover.[17][18] The episode showed Gaga sitting in a meeting with her creative team Haus of Gaga, discussing the specifics of her album release.[17] Scattered around Gaga were a number of photographs, which were speculated by MTV as something "Judas"-related. On one photo the word "Judas" was printed with a cross on it. Jocelyn Vena from MTV felt that the artwork could have easily appeared in director Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet (1996).[17]

On the 41st episode of Transmission Gagavision, Gaga announced that the song was going to be released soon.[19] She added the abstract message along with the announcement: "Let the cultural baptism begin. If they were not who you were taught they would be, would you still believe?"[11] "Judas" was scheduled to be sent to mainstream airplay on April 19, 2011, and digital retailers on the same day, but after the track was leaked to the internet, its release was brought forward to April 15, 2011.[20][21] This was done to counteract the pre-release leaks. Before the release, Gaga tweeted about the single, saying: "#PawsUpForJudas! I've learned love is like a brick, you can build a house or sink a dead body." On April 15, 2011, hours before the song was played on radio she again tweeted: "Even After Three Times He Betrays Me," she wrote, harking back to the song's lyrics about love and betrayal. "THE REAL JUDAS: HE'S EVERYWHERE, NOW. DON'T STOP UNTIL HE'S YOURS," she added.[18] In the United Kingdom, the song premiered on The Capital FM Network on April 15, 2011, during their program Home Run.[11] Gaga addressed the leak in the 43rd episode of Transmission Gagavision, likening it to a disembodiment, saying, "A slow death! Just put me out of my f---ing misery, just put that sh-- out. They were tearing [the song] limb for limb. First it was the arm of the song, then the liver...."[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Lady Gaga performing "Judas" on The Born This Way Ball, standing on top of the medieval castle prop.

"Judas" was generally well received by most music critics. Jonathan Van Meter from Vogue gave the song a positive review, saying the song sounded like it was written for The Ronettes, but was set to a "sledgehammering" dance beat.[4] MTV's James Dinh noted that the song was very similar in its composition to "Bad Romance".[23] Popjustice also compared it to "Bad Romance" describing it as "a highly evolved, Titanium-plated 'Bad Romance' from the year 2511 travelling half a millennium back in time to save music from a tidal wave of 'in the club'-obsessed pop drivel, and that's 'Judas'."[9] Kevin O'Donnel from Spin felt that the song sounded like a rowdy, industrial-disco banger, and described Gaga's performance as "insanely over the top: She alternates between rapping, a robotic monotone, and a crow-like squawk — before gliding into a more conventional chorus that hews closer to 'Bad Romance'."[24] He complimented the primal energy of the music of "Judas," and felt that the breakdown was one of the weirdest moments to hit the pop music scene in 2011.[24] Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson noted that the disconnection and deviation from Gaga's previous single "Born This Way" was more pronounced with "Judas". Musically he felt that "Judas" had the same "glitter-jackhammer level as 'Born This Way', though the big anthemic chords are almost inverted—not unlike Inner City's Big Fun vs. Good Life. It's a good twin, evil twin thing." Henderson continued that the song conjured the imagery of a disturbed vision of hell, and in a warped sense the song seemed more forward-thinking to him and less of a message, "than the 'gay = great' equation at the heart of 'Born This Way'."[25]

Amos Barshad from New York declared that the song reminded him of being drunk and dancing in a remote discothèque in Berlin.[26] NME's Dan Martin was of the opinion that "Judas" was the song that Gaga should have come back with. But he understood why she did not choose it as the lead single from Born This Way, given the fact that the song was characteristic of Gaga's music.[14] Pointing the same thing, Matthew Perpetua from Rolling Stone wrote that the song played to Gaga's established musical sensibilities. He added that although "Judas" certainly had its own charms and "at least three insanely catchy hooks it leans hard on Gaga's signature moves."[27] Maura Johnston of The Village Voice summarized the song as a twin of "Bad Romance" describing its "instantly memorable wordless vocalizing, a pummeling beat, lyrics about a romance that is, well, bad."[28] Digital Spy's Robert Copsey gave the song five out of five stars, commending the "blasphemously camp" chorus and comparing it to be worthy of Eurovision – "a Scooch-meets-Lordi affair that, unsurprisingly, takes a few listens to get your head around."[29] Mark Lepage from The Gazette praised the song and understood that as Gaga's music has progressed, so has her themes and inspirations, indicated by the conflicted relationship she has with the character Judas in the song.[30] Rick Fulton, while writing in the Daily Record, compared it to "'Like a Prayer' on steroids" and gave it three out of five points.[31]

Plagiarism allegations[edit]

On August 4, 2011, Rebecca Francescatti, a Chicago-based singer, filed a lawsuit against Gaga and Interscope for allegedly ripping off the song "Juda" from her album, "It's All About You".[32][33] According to NBC Chicago, the bassist that worked on the song with Gaga, Brian Gaynor, also plays for Francescatti.[34] A copy of the lawsuit revealed Francescatti seeks a cut from the profits "Judas" has earned,[35] on a song that "copied and incorporated substantial, original portions" of the work.[32]

In June 2014, the lawsuit was dismissed by a Federal Judge in Chicago, stating, in part, "The differences [between the songs "Juda" and "Judas"] so outweigh the purported similarities between the melodies that they cannot be said to be even remotely similar” “We agree with Defendants that the songs do not have common lyrics, the themes are different, and they do not sound at all alike musically.” “Thus, we find the similarity of expression to be, quite clearly, ‘totally lacking.’ The (two songs) are so utterly dissimilar that reasonable minds could not differ as to a lack of substantial similarity between them.”[36]

Chart performance[edit]

After its release to the digital outlets and radio, Billboard theorized that "Judas" would need to sell between 350,000 and 400,000 copies in two and a half days, and make a large number of radio listener impressions through the end of the airplay tracking period on April 19, 2011, in order to debut at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.[37] The song debuted at number 30 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart with 1,405 detections on 118 of the Pop Songs panel's 132 reporting stations, translating to an opening audience of 13.6 million.[38] For the issue dated April 30, 2011, "Judas" debuted at number four on Hot Digital Songs chart with 162,000 copies sold.[39] It debuted at its peak position of number ten on the Hot 100—Gaga's third debut in the top 10—and started at number 48 on the Radio Songs chart with 26 million audience.[40] The next week "Judas" dropped two places on the Hot 100, while selling 156,000 downloads (down 4%) in its first full week at retail.[41] However, on Radio Songs, "Judas" jumped from number 48 to number 36 (34 million impressions, up 29%), while also moving up to number 19 on the Pop Songs chart,[41] reaching a peak of number 15 to date.[42] "Judas" also debuted on the Hot Dance Club Songs Chart at number 38, and on Adult Pop Songs at number 40, for the issue dated May 14, 2011.[43] It has since reached the top of the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.[44] In addition, after charting for six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, the single fell off the chart for one week, but re-entered at position 78 the next week.[45] According to Nielsen SoundScan, "Judas" has sold 942,000 copies of digital downloads in the U.S. as of August 2013.[46] "Judas" and another single from Born This Way, "Marry the Night", have so far been her only singles to not sell over one million copies.[47]

In Canada, "Judas" debuted at number nine on the Canadian Hot 100 with three days of sales, entering the Digital Songs chart of Canada at number five with 16,000 copies sold.[48][49] The next week it moved up one position to its peak of number eight, while becoming the greatest gainer on the chart in terms of airplay. The song moved from number 66 to number 23 on the Canadian Hot 100 Airplay chart, with a 161% increase in audience.[50] In the United Kingdom, "Judas" debuted at number 14 on the UK Singles Chart on April 17, 2011, with 20,729 copies.[51][52] The next week it moved to number nine.[53] The song debuted at number nine on the French Singles Chart with 5,719 copies of the single,[54] and has since reached a peak of seven.[55] In New Zealand, "Judas" debuted at number 13 on the New Zealand Singles Chart on April 18, 2011,[56] and also debuted at number six on the ARIA Singles Chart of Australia, which became its peak there.[55] "Judas" was certified platinum in Australia by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), for shipment of 70,000 copies of the single.[57] In Ireland and Finland, "Judas" achieved a top-five debut at positions four and three respectively.[58][59] Other top-ten debuts happened at Belgium (Wallonia), Norway and Spain.[60] In Japan "Judas" debuted at number seven on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart.[61] The song debuted and peaked at number 23 in the German Singles Chart, ending her consecutive top-ten placings in that charts since her debut "Just Dance".[62]

Music video[edit]

Development[edit]

"[The music video] went through several changes and late-night debates because at one point, there were two completely different views and I was like, 'Listen, I don't want lightning to strike me! I believe in the gospel and I'm not going there.' And it was amazing because to have that conversation about salvation, peace and the search for the truth in a room of non-believers and believers, to me, that was saying God is active in a big way. We don't touch on things that we have no right touching upon, but the inspiration and the soul and idea that out of your oppression, your darkness, your Judas, you can come into the marvelous light. So it's about the inspiration and to never give up… We've created a new Jerusalem."

—Laurieann Gibson talking about the development of the video.[63]

The music video for "Judas" was filmed on April 2–3, 2011, and was directed by Gaga and her choreographer, Laurieann Gibson.[64] The following Sunday, Gaga had tweeted, "Directing Judas video with my sister @boomkack is the most exciting artistic moment of my career. It's the greatest work we've done. Day 2." Her stylist and Thierry Mugler creative director Nicola Formichetti announced on the coming Monday that the shooting for the video was over.[64] With MTV, Gibson explained the idea behind the video:

"I will tell you now, first off, I'm Christian, and my career is evidence of God in my life, and I think that most people are already thinking that Gaga and the blasphemy and they're premeditating the approach and I think they'll be very shocked to find out how huge and really groundbreaking the message is and how freeing the message is for all the right reasons. And it's really going to shock the world."[65]

The cast included Norman Reedus as Judas, while Gaga played the part of Mary Magdalene. Gibson and Gaga wanted to make sure the video's direction was perfect—so they directed it themselves. Gibson explained that while working with Nick Knight on the music video for "Born This Way", they had felt that the ideas presented did not execute in a way they wanted. But with the music video of "Judas", the whole idea and the inspiration was clear enough. They had initially approached a director, but the dates did not work out with him, so Gaga's manager asked her and Gibson to direct the video instead.[65]

Gibson said she took a moment before agreeing, as she had just wrapped up work on Gaga's Monster Ball HBO special but she could not resist in the end. "It's a phenomenal video: really powerful, really impactful. She's such a strong, committed artist. Her loyalty to me is something I will be forever grateful for. We're spiritually connected. We need each other ... and 'Judas' is ultimately a representation of our true bond," she added.[65] With The Hollywood Reporter, Gibson explained that within the video they created a new Jerusalem.[63] The shock value in the video was purposefully added, but ultimately the story was about oppression; and about following one's heart and the glory of being free.[66] With NME magazine Gaga revealed that the video involved motorbikes and a death sequence. She also described the portrayal of her character as being "beyond repentance", which evolved from the continuous media accusations towards her that "[she's] trashy. or pretentious or this and that. [The video] is my way of saying 'I've crossed the line, I won't even try to repent. Nor should I'."[67] Forgiveness and destiny also played a part in the video, and Gaga wanted to portray a Federico Fellini-esque story with apostles being revolutionaries in a modern-day Jerusalem. They are led to Jesus, by Gaga as Magdalene.[8] Although initially reported to be premiered during an episode of the tenth season of American Idol,[68] the music video premiered on May 5, 2011, on E! News at 7 pm.[69]

Synopsis[edit]

A woman stands atop a rock, dressed in a metallic gown and coiffured hair. Behind her, a big wave approaches to engulf her.
Painting displaying a naked blond woman standing atop an oyster shell in water. To her left, another blond woman tries to cover her with a pink cloth. To her right a flying naked couple is seen, with a blue cloth wrapped loosely around them.
The scene of Gaga standing atop a rock, as waves engulf her (left), is reminiscent of artist Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus (right).

The video opens with a motorcycle gang cruising down a freeway, wearing studded leather jackets. The motorcycle gang are the Twelve Apostles who followed Jesus, including Judas. Gaga as Mary Magdalene clutches onto a Jesus-like figure (Rick Gonzalez) who wears a golden crown of thorns. Among the riders is Judas (Norman Reedus), who crosses Gaga's bike as she looks meaningfully towards him. The gang passes under a flyover, when the song starts. They reach their rustic hideout called "Electric Chapel" where Gaga dances wearing a red sarong and a bikini top with crosses covering her nipples. Gaga's character watches curiously as the wily Judas enters the biker club and immediately gets involved in a brawl. While trying to protect Jesus from the fights she attempts to warn him about his apostle's impending betrayal, but becomes hypnotized by Judas' allure. The storyline is interspersed with choreographed dance sequences and close-ups of Gaga with stark imagery, including artistic eye make-up, which was compared to the Egyptian Eye of Horus.[70] Her flowing blonde hair is accented by a red bandana, blue leather top and puffy white dress in different parts of the clip. The blue top worn by Gaga displays the "Sacred Heart", a depiction of what Jesus is said to have revealed as a symbol of his love for humanity. During the second verses, Gaga points towards Peter during the line "Build a house", and towards herself during "Or sink a dead body".

After the second chorus, in a climatic sequence, the singer holds a gun up to Judas' mouth, and a stick of red lipstick bursts out and smears his lips. The scene portrays Gaga's choice to refuse to shoot Judas through the heart. As the breakdown ends, the music stops and Gaga is seen in a bathtub with Jesus and Judas, washing their feet and cleaning it with her hair. The sequence is interspersed with Gaga standing lonely on a rock as waves engulf her, the scene being reminiscent of artist Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus[71] and Jesus marching towards his fatal destiny. The music restarts and Judas is shown pouring beer in the bathtub. Next Jesus is shown standing on a stage, surrounded by his supporters, the setting being inspired by scaffoldings present around newly constructed buildings in New York.[72] Gaga kneels in front of Jesus and tries to explain something to him, but he places his palm on her head as Judas looks on. After Judas delivers the fateful kiss upon Jesus' cheeks, marking him for his death, Gaga falls on the ground with a silent, anguished cry. The video ends with the death of neither Judas nor Jesus, but of Gaga as she's stoned to death by the crowd.

Reception[edit]

Painting of an eye with its brow, in black lines. The eye is stretched at its end with a horizontal line, and has another spiral line coming out of its lower lid.
Gaga's eye make-up is compared to the Egyptian Eye of Horus.

Before its release, the Catholic League's president William Anthony Donohue criticized the music video for its portrayal of Gaga as Mary Magdalene. He spoke exclusively to HollywoodLife.com about Gaga's focus on Judas and Mary Magdalene, calling her "increasingly irrelevant" compared to people with "real talent", and attacked her for seemingly purposefully debuting the song and video close to Holy Week and Easter.[73] Gaga noted in an interview with E! that the video was not meant to cause controversy in any way, jokingly adding "the only controversial thing about this video is that I'm wearing Christian Lacroix and Chanel in the same frame. This video is not meant to be an attack on religion. I respect and love everyone's beliefs. I'm a religious and spiritual person who's obsessed with religious art. I'm obsessed with it."[65] After its release, the Catholic League released a further statement stating:

"In her 'Judas' video, Lady Gaga plays fast and loose with Catholic iconography, and generates several untoward statements, but she typically dances on the line without going over it. The faux-baptismal scene is a curious inclusion, as is her apparent fondness for the Jesus character. But if anyone thinks the Catholic League is going to go ballistic over Lady Gaga's latest contribution, they haven't a clue about what really constitutes anti-Catholicism. The video is a mess, incoherent, it leaves the viewer more perplexed than moved."[74]

Jason Lipshutz from Billboard described it as a "motorcycle mayhem meets biblical betrayal."[75] MTV News' James Montogomery called the video as a pure pop clip, "albeit one that looks great and is sure to earn the ire of a few folks on the religious right." He added that "Judas" is, at its sacred heart, an artistic explosion contained within the confines of a traditional pop clip.[71] Christian Blauvelt from Entertainment Weekly did not like the video at first, calling it her weakest effort to date and attributing it to Gibson's choreography and the literal storyline. However, he admitted that after watching the video a few times, he became fond of it.[76] Tris McCall from The Star-Ledger felt that there was neither anything blasphemous about the video, nor anything too daring about it. McCall explained that the dancing in the video is a "pleasure to watch", but would have been better if the camera work was more professional. According to him, the only eye-catching prop in the video was the gun that turned into a lipstick.[77] Matthew Perpetua from Rolling Stone was certain that the video would offend some Christians for its irreverent and highly sexualized take on Jesus Christ; he also said that Gaga interpreted the Biblical story in her own style.[78] Oscar Moralde from Slant Magazine complimented the production of the video by calling it "visually stunning", while adding that "'Judas' is the work of a repertory, not a revolutionary. It takes familiar swatches from Gaga's palette (the leather-and-chain aesthetic of "Telephone"; the plaintive, tear-stained camera stare of "Bad Romance") and puts them all together for a competently executed work."[79] Phil Fox Rose, while reviewing the video for The Washington Post, gave it a positive review stating that he found it "moving, both artistically and spiritually." He then went on to explain how the religion related accusations against Gaga were completely biased.[80] VH1 found that the video was inspired by Madonna's "Like a Prayer", the films Our Lady of the Assassins, The Wild Angels and Romeo + Juliet, and the American television series Lost.[81] NME named 'Judas' the fourth worst music video ever, describing it as "an attempt to jump on the Madonna/Catholicism bandwagon that so incredibly misjudged it's quite comical.".[82]

Laurieann Gibson's choreography to the song that was used in the music video was received positively. The video was nominated for Best Choreography at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Gaga's fan bases hailed the choreography with many videos of them interpreting the choreography on YouTube. One notable video is of two Australian boys Jesse and Jermaine D'Vauz dancing to the choreography in their bedroom, which was posted by Gaga on her Twitter page in May 2011.[83] Gaga tweeted: "JUDAS choreography by two sexy boys! Swoon! This is why I love my fans, you don't skip a beat."[84]

At the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards, Gaga won the Best International Artist Video award for "Judas".[85] The song's music video also received two nominations at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, in the categories of Best Choreography and Best Art Direction;[86] however, the video won neither at the award show, losing to Beyoncé Knowles' "Run The World (Girls)" in Best Choreography, and Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" in Best Art Direction.[87] In 2012, NME named it the 4th worst music video ever.[88]

Live performances[edit]

A blond woman wearing black sunglass and her hair in a side ponytail. She wears a black and gold printed shirt through which her bustier is seen. The woman wears black stockings and has both of her hands raised a little upwards. She is flanked on her right by man, who strikes a similar pose, wearing black vest and pants. They are standing in front of a light blue backdrop.
Gaga and her dancer performing "Judas" on Good Morning America "Summer Concert Series".

On April 17, 2011, Gaga performed "Judas" at a nightclub called Kennedy Lounge, in Tampa, Florida, after her Monster Ball show in the city's St. Pete Times Forum.[89] Gaga performed "Judas" live on television for the first time on Ellen on April 28, 2011.[90] She was accompanied by a string of male dancers, wearing black monk-like garments, by her side. The song was performed as a dance-filled number, with Gaga singing the lines while wearing a blue latex ensemble. According to James Dinh from MTV, the "choreography [of the performance] seemingly more difficult than in her usual performances, the singer showcased her best high-energy moves." As the music came to a close, she struck a pose before planting a kiss on the cheek of DeGeneres, who playfully replicated her stance.[91][92] At the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Gaga sang the song for French television show Le Grand Journal. Wearing a gold-embellished ensemble, a red hood and a black-and-white hairstyle, Gaga performed an energetic version of the song accompanied by her male dancers, on a stage in front of the Mediterranean Sea. She explained to host Michel Denisot that the inspiration behind her look was the religious imagery and fashion portrayed in the "Judas" music video. "I've been wearing very romantic, very biblical arrangements, and I always throw in some punk rock for good measure," Gaga added.[93]

"Judas" was performed by Gaga on The Graham Norton Show on May 13, 2011,[94] and two days later on Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria. "Judas" was the final song of the setlist, and she finished her performance by taking a bow with her dancers and musicians, as confetti rained on the crowd.[95] Gaga sang "Judas" on the season finale of Saturday Night Live on May 21, 2011, after performing the piano version of "The Edge of Glory".[96] She was dressed in a black shiny top and knee high boots, with a metallic headgear.[97] On May 27, 2011, Gaga also performed the song on Good Morning America as a part of their "Summer Concert Series". She wore a black sheer dress with a gold bejewelled jacket, and gold-studded bikini top and bottom. The stage was filled with steam billowing out of controlled machines.[98] Gaga performed "Judas" on the X Factor in Paris on June 14, 2011, as a medley with "The Edge of Glory". The performance started with Gaga playing a keytar for "The Edge of Glory", wearing a fringed coat as well as a teal wig. She then removed the keytar and fringed coat, revealing a lingerie outfit which included a thong, and transitioned into "Judas".[99][100] A medley of "Judas" and "Born This Way" was the closing performance on the Paul O'Grady Live show. Ryan Love of Digital Spy had a preview of the show's recording, and felt that this was the best performance of the two songs by Gaga.[101] The song was performed on The Born This Way Ball. She performed the song after a speech about betrayal and loyalty. The song was performed atop of one of the turrets of the castle. A shortened version was performed, cutting out the second verse and chorus. The song contained elements of the DJ White Shadow Remix.[102]

On the Born This Way Ball tour's venue in Manila, Philippines, Lady Gaga faced threats of incarceration and lawsuits from nearly 200 Christians from the Biblemode Youth Philippines organization. The group marched to protest about her "blasphemous" music, taking particular offense to the song "Judas", which they assert demeans Jesus Christ. Responding to the protests, Gaga said in an official statement, "I’m not a creature of your government, Manila," and performed "Judas" anyway. Following the controversy, Roman Catholic legal authorities greenlighted the concerts for Monday, 21 May 2012 and the following Tuesday, restricting nudity and acts deemed vulgar from the performance. Gaga was also injured while performing "Judas" in Auckland. She was struck accidentally on stage with a metal pole by one of her back-up dancers, giving her a concussion.[103][104]

Track listing[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Born This Way album liner notes.[111]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format
Worldwide[21] April 15, 2011 Digital download
South Korea[146] April 18, 2011
United States[20] April 26, 2011 Mainstream radio
Germany[147] May 13, 2011 CD single
Poland[148]
United Kingdom[149] May 16, 2011
United States[108] Digital download – Remixes
Australia[109]
United Kingdom[150]
Italy[151] May 17, 2011 CD single
Taiwan[152] May 20, 2011
United States[153] May 24, 2011
Germany[154] July 1, 2011 CD single – Remixes Part 2

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This song was initially made available for free for users of the American iTunes Store if they had purchased either version of Born This Way before May 29, 2011, via a code sent before June 2.

References[edit]

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