Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the new Lady Gaga not-at-all-a-controversy-but-there's-nothing-else-interesting-happening-in-music-so-let's-pretend. Where we last left off on the not-at-all-a-controversy...train, Lady Gaga was accused of stealing Madonna's "Express Yourself" in a plot to destroy mankind. Now, she's the anti-christ. Ok. Back-up.
Someone leaked Lady Gaga's new single "Judas." Gaga responded by officially releasing the single early for sale. Radio stations are playing it non-stop. It looks like, again, Lady Gaga has a massive hit on her hands.
So what's wrong with another dance-pop song? If you believe the Catholic League, Lady Gaga is a talentless hack exploiting Catholic imagery to promote bad music. He's even taken it a step further since I first planned on writing about this, claiming Lady Gaga is essentially committing a hate crime and America allows it because Catholics don't threaten jihad against anyone who criticizes them. Except for when the Catholic League* totally does launch an attack against an individual by doing a media blitz vilifying them for a real or imagine slight against the religion.
So what is so controversial about this song?
Apparently, it all boils down to one lyric.
But I'm still in love with Judas, baby
Let that settle in. Claiming that you love the man who betrayed Jesus in the context of knowing that he had to betray Jesus to bring on the resurrection is now hate speech. I'm pretty sure hate speech was her intent. This isn't the most common interpretation of the scripture, but it's not exactly a new thought, either. If you read the Bible in a literal way (which the Catholic League tries to do), you have to embrace the dark turn of Judas against Jesus to understand and accept the miracle of the resurrection. No Judas, no arrest, no crucifixion, no rising from the grave in three days to free the world of sin. Jesus even says that one of his apostles will betray him before dawn and another will deny him three times. If that doesn't say Judas plays an important role in the story, I don't know what does.
Has Lady Gaga crossed the line with her Catholic imagery before? To a certain extent, yes. Her "Alejandro" video featured her dressed as a nun swallowing rosary beads. But, is that a justifiable reason to go after a pop singer who identifies as Catholic? Many production studios, writers, directors, actors, TV networks, distributors, news anchors, newspapers, radio personalities, and religious figures constantly attack Catholicism for the actual tenants of the faith. Why isn't Catholic League leader Donahue going after all those sources? Because they aren't as popular.
I would think those "convert your friends from Catholicism otherwise their going to hell because the Pope is actually the devil on earth and they eat babies and sacrifice virgins" pamphlets** that get passed around with approval by certain Protestant faiths would be a bigger threat than a pop song, but I'm not the leader of the largest religious rights organization in America.
As for the song itself: it's catchy. I like it. Perhaps it's a bit simple compared to some of the more inventive sounds Lady Gaga has used in the past, but not every song needs to innovate. People are going to be able to sing along and the beat and vocal can be easily mixed for late-night and weekend radio DJ sessions.
*The Catholic League, it should be pointed out, does not speak for all Catholics. I'm a practicing Catholic and I think most of leader Bill Donahue's claims are absurd. There is no message of tolerance in telling a pop singer to go write a song about Muhammad and see how people react. There is no tolerance in attacking people for criticizing the hierarchy of a faith that for years chose to move a priest to a new parish rather than deal with actual investigations into sexual abuse against minors. Not to get too off-topic, but it's hard to take someone seriously in any faith who chooses to ignore key doctrines to justify a campaign of hate. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that jazz.
**These exist and they're always good for a laugh. I'm not linking to them, but a simple google search for cartoon tracts should put you in the right direction.