Lady Godga's Judas, Just in Time for Easter

What better than a little Lady Gaga for Easter? Welcome below our first contribution from new contributor David Stowe, whose new book No Sympathy for the Devil has received quite a bit of blogging attention here. Here, David analyzes Lady Gaga's new single and its place in the history of Christian pop and religious-themed musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar.

Lady Gaga's Judas
by David Stowe

At this time forty years ago Jesus Christ Superstar the double album was near the top of the charts, with the musical slated to open on Broadway in the fall. Godspell was about to open off-Broadway, and Marvin Gaye's spiritually-infused What's Going On was being shipped to record stores.

Now we have Lady Gaga, whose just released single, "Judas," already has some eight million hits. It includes lines likes these

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, bring him down, down
A king with no crown, king with no crown

I'm just a Holy fool, oh baby he's so cruel
But I'm still in love with Judas, baby
I'm just a Holy fool, oh baby he's so cruel
But I'm still in love with Judas, baby

And also:

In the most Biblical sense,
I am beyond repentance
Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind
But in the cultural sense
I just speak in future tense
Judas kiss me if offensed,
Or wear ear condom next time

New York magazine has published a detailed Biblical exegesis of the lyrics:

Lady Gaga's "Judas" is more than a pop anthem to loving the wrong guy: It's also the perfect excuse to examine infamous Catholic schoolgirl Lady Gaga's religiosity and the way she appropriates, inverts, and reworks Biblical allusions and images. Here's a serious, line-by-line analysis of the liturgical references in Judas from Luke 7:38 to John 13:27." They don't call her "Godga" for nothing ...

“I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs”
A reference to Luke 7:38, in which Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. In John 11:2 (and 12:3), she anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume and then wipes them with her hair. In some Christian traditions, Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are the same person; in other traditions, they are distinct persons. Either way, though, Gaga's take is slightly off: Hair is for wiping or drying feet, not for washing....

Tim Rice meets Madonna. As Mary Magdalene sung so controversially 40 years ago:

I don't know how to love him
What to do, how to move him....
He's a man
He's just a man
And I've had so many
Men before
In very many ways
He's just one more.


The Sight said…
Your blog is an interesting take on Lady Gaga's video. I posted a blog about this on my blog:

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