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Over the course of her career, Lady Gaga has often been praised for her relentlessly unique aesthetic and her almost single-handed elevation of the standard four minute film clip into a work of video art. While most popstars opt to put their music at the forefront, with their music videos nothing but stylised afterthoughts, a classic Gaga music video will act as a pop culture event, with the song and the visuals working hand in hand to reflect a grander vision. Standard Gaga videos can often run for over five minutes, feature fully developed plots and character arcs, and present new meanings for what might otherwise constitute typical pop songs.
Yet as with so many of her grand ideas, many of Gaga’s music videos have gone unrealised or unreleased. Some, like the infamous ‘Do What U Want’, were completely filmed and edited before being scrapped at the last minute; while others, such as the one for ‘Government Hooker’, remained foggy concepts with no apparent direction; but since she debuted in 2008, Gaga has consistently promised videos to her fans for each era that never went on to eventuate. Today we’ll explore each of these videos in turn, examining why they went unreleased, and just what we could be missing out on.
Some of Gaga's videos were filmed, edited and ready for release before being cancelled.
The most notorious of all of Gaga’s unreleased music videos, ‘Do What U Want’ was confirmed shortly after the singles announcement at her artRAVE album release party on November 10th 2013. It was here that Gaga confirmed that Terry Richardson would direct, making it the latest in a long line of Gaga and Richardson collaborations which included the Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson coffee table art book, the short music video snippet for ‘Cake Like Lady Gaga’ and the single cover for ‘Do What U Want’. The music video was to be the third in Richardson’s foray into music, leading on from his directorial efforts with Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ and Beyonce’s ‘XO’. Ten days after the announcement, Gaga tried to make the word "quelped" a thing:
A few weeks later, Interscope announced that the video would be released through the file sharing service Bit Torrent and the online publication Vice in December of that year. In an unfortunate comparison, the video followed the same release formula as Madonna’s “secretprojectrevolution”, a seventeen minute short film directed by frequent Gaga collaborator Steven Klein aiming to promote artistic expression. According to Interscope, Gaga’s release was intended to "explore the link between open expression and open technology; providing an inside look at the creative process”, and would include the music video, still photographs, a behind the scenes video and interviews with both Gaga and Richardson.
In early December, Gaga explained that the video had been delayed because she wanted to make it “perfect” due to its “very personal” nature.
Sadly, December came and went without any release of the music video. In a dramatic post on her social media website LittleMonsters.com, Gaga blamed her former management for the delay, saying that "just like with the 'Applause' video unfortunately, I was given a week to plan and execute it."
It is very devastating for someone like me, I devote every moment of my life to creating fantasies for you. All my my most successful videos were planned over a period of time when I was rested and my creativity was honored.
Those who have betrayed me gravely mismanaged my time and health and left me on my own to damage control any problems that ensued as a result. Millions of dollars are not enough for some people. They want billions. Then they need trillions. I was not enough for some people. They wanted more. I am very grateful to the photographers and designers who have always stood by me to make sure my fans are never aware of the things that happen behind the scenes, but unfortunately after my surgery I was too sick, too tired, and too sad to control the damage on my own.
My label was not aware that this was going on. The next few months of ARTPOP will truly be its beginning. Because those who did not care about ARTPOP's success are now gone, and the dreams I have been planning can now come to fruition. Please forgive me that I did not foresee this coming, I never thought after all the years of hard work that those I called friends and partners would ever care so little at a time I needed them the most. Give me a chance to show you the meaning of seeing art all around you. Open your hearts to me again that I may show you the joy of us coming together through our talents, that we are stronger as a unit than when we are alone.
Let me be for you the Goddess that I know I truly am, let me show you the visions that have been in my mind for two years. I love you. Forgive me monsters. Forgive me ARTPOP. You are my whole world.
Despite this, in June of 2014, TMZ posited a different explanation for why the video had gone unreleased, along with some snippets of the video itself. According to them, Gaga “feared blow back since her co-star was once on trial for kiddie porn and her director is in a swirl of controversy over allegedly sexually assaulting or harassing his models”. Allegedly, Gaga had been unaware of R. Kelly’s leaked sex tape in which he urinated on an underage girl; along with the multiple charges of sexual harassment against Terry Richardson. After she learned of the allegations, Gaga scrapped the music video.
If the snippets TMZ leaked are anything to go by, it was probably a good call. Along with the obvious PR nightmares that are inherent when somebody convicted of statutory rape is being told to “do what you want with my body”, the video itself seems to feature images of what many would call rape. Gaga lies in a hospital bed with Kelly playing doctor and standing over her as he touches her under the covers and administers her with anaesthetic. Half-naked nurses soon begin to start twerking on top of Gaga’s passed out body, and in another scene Richardson is spotted snapping photos of a half-naked Gaga as she mimes having sex on the floor.
The fact that reporters at TMZ have what seems to be a fully edited HQ version of the video suggests that a final cut does exist and has been shared in some circles, but sadly it has yet to be released to fans. Given the controversial nature of the video, it’s unlikely that this one will ever get released, which means that all we can hope for is a leak.
Other Gaga videos were set up and ready to film before being scrapped at the last minute.
At the BMI Pop Music Awards on May 17th, 2011, Gaga's longtime choreographer and creative partner Laurieann Gibson confirmed that she and Gaga would be filming the ‘The Edge of Glory’ music video soon and that they had a concept for it established, hinting “we’ll be feeling very fishy”. Joseph Kahn, who has worked on videos such as Britney’s ‘Womanizer’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’, was set to direct, making it his third collaboration with Gaga after music videos for 'LoveGame' and 'Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)'. He began casting for the video in May, seeking a Hispanic-looking “badass” love interest, “couture doctors who will wear smocks and black gloves”, an on-air news reporter, and a band of soldiers for scenes involving rifles. Elaborate sets were also created, including one for a hospital, one for Brooklyn Bridge, one underwater set for the Brooklyn River, and the fire escape set which ended up dominating the finished product.
Filming began on the fire escape set, with Clarence Clemons appearing alongside Gaga to perform his saxophone solo as Gaga danced around the set. Sadly, the rest of the shoot did not proceed smoothly. According to Chancler Hayes, Kahn’s longtime editor, two days of filming had already been completed when Gaga changed her mind about the entire video concept. Hayes said that Gaga wanted to simplify the music video which Kahn had spent months working on, leading to a disagreement between the two and the ultimate cancellation of the project. Gaga herself later stated in 2017 that her disagreements with Kahn were over "real philosophies about life". Following the videos release, an angry Kahn tweeted “I did NOT direct Lady Gaga’s ‘Edge of Glory’ video. Lady Gaga did — I don’t co-direct. One canvas, one paintbrush. Respect the art. Very simple rule with me.”
Gaga did indeed go on to take on the role of director herself, piecing together a music video from the two day of filmings that had already occurred under Kahn’s directorial supervision. During a press conference in Singapore, she confirmed "I had this whole elaborate setup for ‘The Edge of Glory’, but once I got on that fire escape in that one outfit, I realized that it was time to just have a moment of acknowledgement for myself as a 25-year-old who has been working so hard from the bottom up my whole life."
While it’s true that fans missed out on what was sure to be an epic video with the Kahn-directed ‘The Edge of Glory’, it may have been a blessing in disguise. According to Hayes, the music video concept was essentially the same as the one she explored on France’s Le Grand Journal TV show, in which she performed as a mermaid in a hospital setting.
This mermaid concept was not abandoned entirely but was reused for the ‘You And I’ music video, in which Gaga’s Hispanic love interest was replaced by Taylor Kinney, who went on to propose to her in February of 2015. And other concepts in the music video, such as those “couture doctors” who were meant to be examining Gaga and her tail, were repurposed for the semi-autobiographical ‘Marry the Night’ music video, which Gaga once again directed herself.
Finally, if nothing else, the music video cancellation was worth it thanks to the brilliant Tweets we got from Laurieann Gibson, who flew into a rage when Little Monsters accused her of misleading them in her initial hints.
listen u disrespectful f**k they had an issue on set I don’t lie!!!!! creative Changes happen always educate ignorant Monster’s!!! you r sick Get some help u have no clue who r u!!! don’t talk negative to people u don’t know it’s foolish!
There were many Gaga videos that were conceptualised but never officially sent to pre-production.
'Venus' was at one point the second official single from Gaga’s ARTPOP album, but was sidelined due to the overwhelmingly positive reception towards promotional single 'Do What U Want'. Despite this, Gaga confirmed that even as a promotional single the song would still receive its own music video, set to be directed by Ruth Hogben who had recently shot her for her ELLE cover story.
Interestingly, the multiple album artworks released for the song were actually shot by Steven Klein, breaking the trend of each ARTPOP single having cover art shot by its video director. Unfortunately, this version of the 'Venus' video ultimately went unfilmed, and it’s unknown how much work was actually done on the concept. The closest we got to a music video for ‘Venus’ was a snippet of the song that was used in the self-directed music video for ‘G.U.Y.’, which was released almost a year later.
Following the same trend, ‘A-Yo’ was also intended to be released as the second single from Joanne, but was scrapped due to the positive reception towards promotional single Million Reasons. It’s unknown how much of a video concept, if any, Gaga had come up with for the song.
Similiarly, 'Dance in the Dark' was originally chosen by Gaga’s label as the third single from The Fame Monster, and was even sent to radio and released as a fourth single in certain territories. However, Gaga’s own desire to release 'Alejandro' meant that a music video was never filmed. It’s unknown if she ever conceptualised a video for the track.
When asked in a Born This Way era interview which track she’d most like to film a music video for, Gaga brought up the fact that she had several ideas for a 'Government Hooker' music video. While we never got the video she teased, it’s possible that some of the ideas went to Gaga’s promotional video for the MTV VMAs which included 'Government Hooker' as a background track.
Furthermore, Gaga often mentioned in interviews that she conceptualised ARTPOP as a fully visual album, with music videos for each track. At one point, Gaga even began a competition on LittleMonsters.com asking her fans to send in concepts for music videos, with her favourite idea being turned into a fully funded music video for the album. However, it’s unknown how much work was actually put into developing ideas for what each music video would look like, or if Gaga looked at the contest submissions at all.
And, finally, Gaga has teased the existence of a sequel to the ‘Paparazzi’ and ‘Telephone’ videos for years. The ending to the 'Telephone' video features a To Be Continued credit, and Gaga confirmed in a 2013 interview that the song featured in the sequel would be included in her iTunes Festival set to promote ARTPOP. This means that the song chosen must have been 'Aura', 'Manicure', 'ARTPOP', 'Jewels n Drugs', 'Sexxx Dreams', or less likely, 'I Wanna Be With You'. In an interview with KISS FM, Gaga stated that she had already written the treatment along with Jonas Akerlund, saying “to finish the trilogy will be great”. Gaga continued to tease the sequel throughout the ARTPOP era without explicitly saying what song it was for, jokingly telling Andy Cohen “blank will be coming out soon”. But when she was asked whether ‘G.U.Y.’ was the ‘Telephone’ continuation on Twitter, she dismissed the claims with no further information, stating:
To this day, no one knows for sure which song was chosen as the 'Telephone' sequel, or what the video may have looked like.
And there were several Gaga videos with significant deleted scenes.
‘Paparazzi’ originally featured an entirely new setup showing Gaga on a polka dotted, purple haired horse wearing an aquatic themed outfit. Rumour has it that the scene was cut to avoid criticism from animal rights organisations such as PETA, who have often criticised dying the fur of any animal.
‘Perfect Illusion’ features several unreleased scenes, including some which feature her at a piano - a strange idea given that the track has no piano part in it at all.
Gaga teased on social media that ‘Cake Like Lady Gaga’, a Terry Richardson music video snippet which she released in November of 2012, had a full music video, although this went unreleased.
The original version of 'G.U.Y.' featured a lookalike of John Lennon being resurrected alongside the lookalikes of Jesus, Michael Jackson and Ghandi, but this was apparently cut due to copyright issues with his estate. Andy Cohen reacted to an early version of the video which still featured Lennon here.
And while not quite a deleted scene, there was a fully rendered 3D version of the ‘Telephone’ music video which went unreleased and which was later leaked by iLeaks, solving the riddle of why Gaga included 3D glasses in the super deluxe edition of her The Fame Monster album.
Which of Lady Gaga's unreleased music videos do you most want to see? What song do you think would have made the best 'Telephone' sequel? Let us know in the comments down below!