Paparazzi (Lady Gaga song)

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"Paparazzi"
Two greyscale images of a blond woman with short bob cut hair. She wears a shiny black metallic dress with a bloated skirt. The images are taken like police mugshots, with the woman holding her name tag to her chest. In one image she bites her right hand, while in the other she ruffles her hair. The top and the bottom of the image are lined by a thick layer of pink paint. On the bottom, the words "Lady Gaga" and "Paparazzi" are written in flowing white and green colors.
Single by Lady Gaga
from the album The Fame
Released July 6, 2009
Format CD single, digital download, 7" vinyl
Recorded 2007–08; 150 Studios,
Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:29
Label Streamline, Kon Live, Cherrytree, Interscope
Writer(s) Stefani Germanotta, Rob Fusari
Producer(s) Rob Fusari, Lady Gaga[1]
Lady Gaga singles chronology
"Chillin"
(2009)
"Paparazzi"
(2009)
"Bad Romance"
(2009)

"Paparazzi" is a song by American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga. It was released as the fifth and final single from her debut album, The Fame (2008). Gaga wrote and produced the song with Rob Fusari. The song portrays Gaga's struggles in her quest for fame, as well as balancing success and love. Musically, it is an up-tempo dance song whose lyrics describe a stalker following somebody to grab attention and fame.

Although released on July 6, 2009, in the United Kingdom and four days later in Australia, "LoveGame" initially had been planned as the third single release in the United Kingdom but deeming its lyrics and music video potentially controversial, it was decided that "Paparazzi" would be released instead. "Paparazzi" was critically acclaimed for its "fun-filled" and club-friendly nature while and also became commercially successful when it reached top-ten positions in the music charts of Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States while reaching number one in the Czech Republic and Germany.

The accompanying music video portrays Gaga as a doomed starlet, hounded by photographers, who is almost killed by her boyfriend. It shows her survival, comeback, revenge on her boyfriend, and experiences on the way to fame. The video won two MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 for Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects. Gaga also performed the song at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in a performance art piece symbolizing the negative effect of fame leading to death. Additional live performances of the song include on The Fame Ball Tour, where it was the opening song, on an October 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live and on The Monster Ball Tour. On the first leg of the tour, she appeared as a Rapunzel-like character; from the second leg onward, she performed the song alongside a giant anglerfish ("The Fame Monster") who, attempting to devour her, was killed after her leotard shot sparks into the creature.

Background and composition[edit]

A 19 second sample from "Paparazzi" where the chorus plays with Gaga singing the lines "I'm your biggest fan".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

To the Australian Daily Telegraph, Gaga explained that "Paparazzi" was about struggling to balance success and love.[2] Further explanations said that the song was about trying to win the paparazzi and the media in one's favor."It's a love song for the cameras, but it's also a love song about fame or love – can you have both, or can you only have one", she concluded. "Paparazzi" was the album's third single in Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom, the fourth in Canada and the United States and the fifth in Australia, France and New Zealand. Although released on July 6, 2009, in the United Kingdom and four days later in Australia, "LoveGame" initially had been planned as the third single release in the United Kingdom but deeming its lyrics and music video potentially controversial, it was decided that "Paparazzi" would be released instead.[3]

"Paparazzi" has a similar up-tempo composition to the previous singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face"[4] and carries a sultry beat, while being of the dance-pop genre.[5][6] The song has a moderate electro-synth groove and is in the key of C minor with a tempo of 115 beats per minute.[7] It is set in common time, and Gaga's vocal range spans from a low-note of G3 to the high-note of E5. The verses follow in the chord progression of Cm–A–Cm and the chorus uses an A–E–Fm–D progression.[7] The lyrics of "Paparazzi" deal with stalking and the trappings of fame.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received acclaim from music critics. In 2011, Rolling Stone called it the second greatest Lady Gaga song ever, praising the song's theme and beat.[9] Jill Menze of Billboard, while reviewing The Fame Ball Tour, complimented Gaga's vocals on the song by saying, "The fame-obsessed ballad 'Paparazzi' showed how adept she can be with her range."[10] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said that, "You may quickly tire of hearing the album's theme constantly reiterated, but the tune of 'Paparazzi' takes up residence in your brain and refuses to budge."[11] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic, called the song clever and said that it "functions simultaneously as glorious pop trash and a wicked parody of it."[12] Priya Elan of The Times thought that "even the trio of songs that provides the core of the album's celebrity theme ('Paparazzi', 'Beautiful Dirty Rich', and the title track) don't ruminate on the addictive inanity of fame, choosing instead to observe passively."[13]

Evan Sawdey of PopMatters said that both "Paparazzi" and the earlier single "Poker Face" are comparable with the musical styles of first single "Just Dance" but added that "never once does it feel like Gaga is deliberately repeating herself; instead, her faults only come from covering territory that she’s obviously not prepared for."[4] Freedom du Lac of The Washington Post said that even though Gaga turns somewhat serious while disapprovingly singing "Paparazzi", the song comes across as flat and faceless as well as vapid.[14] Erika Howard of the New Times Broward-Palm Beach called it the most telling track from the album.[15] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times said that "'Paparazzi' is a love letter from camera to subject but stops short of admitting that the affection runs both ways. Any notion that Lady Gaga is sketching an elaborate stunt is stopped cold at the lyric sheet, a perverse flaunting of simplicity that betrays no cynicism whatsoever."[16] Pitchfork Media ranked 'Paparazzi' number 83 on their list of 2009's 100 best tracks.[17]

Chart performance[edit]

A blond woman standing on a stage. She wears a black tutu shaped dress with a shiny triangle attached on her right bosom. Her hair is in bob and she wears sunglasses while singing to a microphone held in her left hand. Behind her, a set piece encrusted with broken glasses is visible.
Gaga opening her Fame Ball Tour with "Paparazzi"

In the United States, the song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at position seventy-four on the issue dated September 12, 2009. It reached a peak of six, becoming her fourth consecutive top-ten song on the chart.[18] With the song, Gaga joined Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, and Fergie as the only women this decade to collect four Hot 100 top-tens from a debut album.[19] It also reached the top of Billboard's Pop Songs chart, thus making Gaga the first artist in the seventeen-year history of Pop Songs chart to have her first four singles from a debut album reach the top of the chart.[20] The song also topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.[21] It has sold 3,434,000 paid digital downloads in the United States as of March 2014, according to Nielsen Soundscan.[22] It is Gaga's third song to top the three-million mark.[23] "Paparazzi" debuted on the Canadian Hot 100 at number ninety-two[24] and moved up to fifty seven the following week becoming the weeks greatest digital gainer.[25] The song has reached a peak of three on the chart.[26]

"Paparazzi" debuted on the official Australian Singles Chart at number seventy-three on the issue dated June 1, 2009 and leaped to twenty-seven the next week.[27] The song has peaked at number two, giving Gaga her fourth top five single in Australia.[28] The song was certified two-times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 140,000 copies.[29] In New Zealand, "Paparazzi" debuted at number twenty-three on the issue of June 22, 2009[30] and reached a peak of five.[31] The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) after fourteen weeks on the chart, shipping over 7,500 copies.[32]

The song debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number ninety-nine in February 2009 due to digital downloads after the release of The Fame. It reached number thirteen for the issue dated June 21, 2009 after jumping from forty-three to this position from the last week.[33] The next week the song further climbed to eight[34] and ultimately peaked at four.[35] The song also debuted at number thirty-eight on the Irish Singles Chart[36] and has peaked at number four.[37] "Paparazzi" reached number one in Germany, making it her second chart-topper there. The song also debuted on the Dutch Top 40 at number twenty-seven on the issue dated July 18, 2009.[38] It has peaked at number four on its sixth week on the chart.[39] In Italy, the song debuted at number nineteen and then climbed to number three, becoming Gaga's second top three there.[40]

Music video[edit]

Development[edit]

The music video was directed by Swedish director, Jonas Åkerlund, who has previously directed music videos for artists like The Smashing Pumpkins, Madonna, Moby, Rammstein, and U2. His wife Bea Åkerlund was hired as Gaga's stylist for the video.[41] Gaga told MTV that she had finished shooting " my video for 'Paparazzi,' which I really am very pleased with the way that turned out. It's like a short film."[42] In an interview with The Canadian Press on May 26, 2009, Gaga cited her video as "the most amazing creative work that [she's] put together so far."[43] She went on to describe the idea behind the video and the message it gives as,

"It has a real, genuine, powerful message about fame-whoring and death and the demise of the celebrity, and what that does to young people. The video explores ideas about sort of hyperbolic situations that people will go to in order to be famous. Most specifically, pornography and murder. These are some of the major themes in the video.[43]

Later, in her V magazine cover story, Gaga said that Princess Diana was her reference point for the video, explaining that "Yes, Diana was the most iconic martyr of fame. She died because of it."[44] The video was supposed to premiere on June 4, 2009, in the United Kingdom and Ireland, on Channel 4. However, while touring in Australia, Gaga posted a message on her Twitter account on May 29, 2009 saying "Stop leaking my motherfucking videos", which referred to the video being released without the singer's consent.[45]

Synopsis[edit]

A woman wearing a metallic leotard and helmet is seen walking with a pair of crutches. Behind her, a number of dancers are visible, who are wearing tuxedos with white gloves, and making different gestures behind the woman.
Gaga wearing a metallic leotard with matching helmet, while attempting to walk with the help of crutches in the music video for "Paparazzi".

The music video is an eight-minute mini-movie starring Gaga and Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård as her boyfriend. It features a murderous plot line involving a doomed starlet who is constantly followed by photographers. The video opens with a shot of a seaside mansion, where Gaga and her boyfriend are shown lying on a bed talking in Swedish. They move to the balcony and start making out; however, when hidden photographers start taking pictures of them, Gaga realizes that her boyfriend has set the paparazzi to photograph her and tries to stop him. Her struggles nevertheless remain futile even when she punches him, and in a final frantic attempt at defense, she smashes a nearby bottle of liquor into his face. The enraged boyfriend throws her over the balcony. Gaga lies on the ground in her own blood as the photographers continue take pictures of her bloody body and tabloid headlines proclaim that her career is over.[45] According to Rolling Stone this scene pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo.[46]

Gaga is shown getting out of a limousine, being carried by male dancers to a wheelchair. It is during this scene, that the song starts.[47] As the dancers gyrate around her, she starts walking down the carpet with the help of a pair of crutches while wearing a metallic bustier and a matching helmet. The metallic outfit is a reference to the film Metropolis. These scenes are interspersed with scenes of dead models lying around the mansion.[45] Next Gaga is shown on a golden couch where she makes out with a trio of hair metal rockers during the line "Loving you is cherry pie". The trio, which consist of the triplets Calle "Kelii" Landeberg, Nisse "Izzy" Landeberg, and Pelle "Rock" Landeberg are known as Snake of Eden and they are from the reality television dating program Daisy of Love.[47] According to MTV this scene is a reference to the song "Cherry Pie" by American glam band Warrant. The video continues through the intermediate bridge with Gaga wearing a dress made up of film strips and a towering feathered Mohawk headdress.[45]

In the next scene, Gaga and her eye-patch wearing boyfriend are reading magazines on a sofa in a tea room. Gaga wears a yellow jumpsuit with circular glasses and shoulder pads. The Guardian compared this look with that of Minnie Mouse.[48] She finally takes her revenge on her boyfriend by discreetly poisoning his drink with white powder concealed in her ring. As he falls dead, Gaga calls 9-1-1 and declares that she just killed her boyfriend. The police arrive at the mansion and arrest Gaga who, wearing a tall ice cream cone corkscrew wig, walks to the police car as the paparazzi surround her once again.[45] Images flash by, with newspapers proclaiming her innocence and that Gaga is back in the spotlight and has regained her fame. The video ends with Gaga posing for mug shots like a fashion model while wearing a tulip shaped metallic dress similar to the single cover.

Reception[edit]

Rolling Stone writer Daniel Kreps compared the video with the music video of "November Rain." The scenes of the dead models were described as stomach turning while he complimented the video for "brimming with cinematic style [so] that it’s hard to take your eyes off it, though it will likely be labeled as a little self-indulgent." He also commented on the leaking of the video saying that it "warranted more than just a simple leak; it deserved a red carpet."[46] Anna Pickard from The Guardian complimented the video saying that "quite a lot of work has gone into it". However, she opined that the video was too long.[48] Entertainment Weekly gave a positive review of the video, saying it "gives us even more of the next-level cuckoo we've come to expect from the girl born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta." The paparazzi theme of the video was compared to Britney Spears's 2004 music video, "Everytime."[47] MTV News called the video a "1940s romantic-epic-style video" that "proves once and for all that Gaga is a true original with a unique vision."[49] The video was nominated for five VMAs at the 2009 awards in the categories of Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Special Effects, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. Along with four other nominations for "Poker Face", she and Beyoncé were tied for most nominations that year.[50] The video won the award for Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects.[51] The music video for Gaga's single "Telephone" is a continuation of the "Paparazzi" music video, and is a short film as well. The video picks up right where "Paparazzi" left off; starting with Gaga in prison.[52]

Live performances[edit]

Gaga performing "Paparazzi" on The Monster Ball Tour in a The Wonderful Wizard of Oz-inspired costume.

Gaga performed "Paparazzi" live on the UK program, The Album Chart Show on February 14, 2009 as promotion for The Fame.[53] The song was performed at Capital Radio 95.8 FM in an acoustic piano version on May 1, 2009.[54] On June 26, 2009, Gaga performed the song at the Glastonbury Festival emerging from a silver case on stage.[55] The song was a major part of Gaga’s performance in her first headlining Fame Ball tour as the opening number of the setlist. The show started with a video intro called "The Heart" where Gaga played an alternate persona called Candy Warhol.[56] She wore a silver and black short skirt like a tutu and shaped like peplum on both sides.[57][58][59] She was surrounded by her dancers holding plates which were encrusted with crystals and completely hid them.[5][60] The stage was surrounded by mechanical fog and heavy lighting was being emitted from the background.[57][59]

It was also performed at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.[61] The performance began with Gaga lying on the floor, on a set that was described as an ornate mansion. Gaga staggered across the stage and pirouetted behind a dancer in a lily-white wheelchair. She made her way to a white grand piano which she played by placing one foot up on the keyboard. Once again, she staggered across the stage, with theatrical blood dripping from her ribcage. She collapsed on the stage wailing in agony as one of the dancers gently lifted her. Gaga then hung liflessly with one hand rising above her dancers and blood smeared on her face with a golden halo being projected on the screen behind her.[61] The ending climax of the performance pays homage to a similar sounding ending climax in "A Day In The Life" by The Beatles. She later commented that the performance was for her fans: "I wanted to say something honest and real and not just give a performance where I was jacking off on stage the whole time about my record," [...] It was really for my fans, who I knew would be at home cheering and swooning."[62] In a poll conducted by Billboard, the performance was ranked as the third best in the history of MTV Video Music Awards.[63]

The song was performed by Gaga in a similar choreography at the thirty-fifth season of NBC's late night comedy show Saturday Night Live.[64] It was also present on the set list of Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour. She wore multiple donned braided extensions and was perched atop a railing. From each of her braids, a dancer was attached on the stage. A backdrop of stars were shown during the performance.[65] During the revised shows of The Monster Ball, Gaga changed the concept and the performance of the song. She wore an emerald green dress by Thierry Mugler, and was attacked by a giant, mechanical Angler fish. Gaga then removed the dress to reveal a leotard of the same color and during the bridge she is lowered beneath the stage to acquire her pyro-technic bra. In the final chorus of the song Gaga returns and kills the monster with the sparks from the bra .[66] The single was also performed on the Born This Way Ball.

Track listing[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from The Fame album liner notes.[1]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
"Sexy Bitch" by David Guetta featuring Akon
German Singles Chart number-one single
October 16, 2009 – October 23, 2009
Succeeded by
"Bodies" by Robbie Williams
Preceded by
"I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas
"Sexy Bitch" by David Guetta featuring Akon
Czech Airplay Chart number-one single
November 5, 2009 – November 19, 2009
December 3, 2009 – December 17, 2009
Succeeded by
"Sexy Bitch" by David Guetta featuring Akon
"Hush Hush" by Pussycat Dolls
Preceded by
"Million Dollar Bill" by Whitney Houston
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs number-one single
November 14, 2009 – November 21, 2009
Succeeded by
"Did You See Me Coming?" by Pet Shop Boys
Preceded by
"Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus
U.S. Billboard Pop Songs number-one single
November 14, 2009 – November 28, 2009
Succeeded by
"Whatcha Say" by Jason DeRulo

Release history[edit]

Region Date
Ireland[114] July 6, 2009 (2009-07-06)
United Kingdom[114] July 6, 2009 (2009-07-06)
Australia[68] July 10, 2009 (2009-07-10)
United States[115] September 8, 2009 (2009-09-08)
Germany[116] September 11, 2009
France[117] December 7, 2009

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