MUSIC

Lady Gaga Leads the “Kindness Punks” in a Fight for Peace in “Stupid Love” Video

"Stupid Love" is a return to the Lady Gaga we fell in love with a decade ago.

In a world that valorizes independence, it can be difficult to admit that all you want is to be loved.

But that's exactly what Lady Gaga does in her latest single, "Stupid Love." Clad in pink lingerie and wearing futuristic headgear, she proclaims over and over that all she truly wants is affection.

The song itself isn't exquisite, but it serves its purpose well. The drop is electrifying, ideal for cathartic club nights and drunk Lyft singalongs. The track and video both feel like they could be straight out of 2011, perhaps a B-side on Born This Way.

Will songs like "Stupid Love" hold up in 2020, though? The jaded experimentalism of Billie Eilish and the multi-genre stylings of Lil Nas X seem to be taking precedence over traditional pop. In a world where all art is political, immediately susceptible to rigorous Twitter analysis and the whims of TikTok algorithms, Gaga's old bag tricks may not serve her as well as they once did. Plus, the wild costumes and antics she became known for are now staples in the music industry.

Fortunately, Gaga—always an intoxicating showwoman—is adept at crafting magnetic visuals, and the "Stupid Love" video certainly takes advantage of her ever-futuristic artistic sensibilities.

In the video, Gaga plays the leader of a group called the "Kindness Punks," a militant dance team fighting for peace in a violent world. "The world rots in conflict," an opening statement reads in the video's first frame. "Many tribes fight for dominance. While the Spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for Chromatica." From there, Gaga and her futuristic hippie punks dance their way across a desert, twirling past luminescent crystal rock formations until they come into contact with two conflicting troupes. Gaga manages to levitate some of the brawlers, and peace is achieved.

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Chromatica is most likely the name of Gaga's forthcoming album, which is slated to drop in the next few weeks. Judging by this single, it'll be a return to her dance-bangers of old, and—after the folky turn of Joanne and A Star Is Born—it feels like coming home. "I put all my heart, all my pain, all my messages from the other realm [into this album]," said Gaga to Zane Lowe in a recent Apple Music interview. "I want people to dance and feel happy."

Gaga accompanied the video release with a tweet that read "Earth is cancelled," but maybe she's just in time. In a world run by Trumps and Putins pushed to paranoia by coronavirus and apocalyptic climate change headlines, of course love is probably the only thing that can save us. Gaga's just one of the few pop stars not afraid to shout it from the rooftops.

MUSIC

Elton John Is a Timeless Musical God (with Walking Pneumonia)

Over the weekend Elton John pushed his devotion to his fans to new limits before his illness forced him to cut a concert short.

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Elton John has been producing incredible music and putting on high energy live shows since the 1960s.

He's a timeless musical icon. He could easily have called it quits 40 years ago, and the world would still be singing along to "Bennie and the Jets" and "Tiny Dancer" and a dozen other hits. Instead, he has continued putting out hits into his 70s.

Just two weeks ago he was awarded his second Oscar for his song "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," from the soundtrack to the Elton John biopic Rocketman, and he put on a powerful performance at the ceremony that had viewers googling his age. He's 72 years old now, but his voice betrayed no sense of decline—as forceful and vibrant as ever. From the Oscars he almost immediately got on a plane to the other side of the world to perform for stadiums full of devoted fans as part of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" worldwide tour.

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What is it that keeps him going at a pace that would drain men half his age? Is he a greedy man? No doubt the ticket sales make the travel worth his time, but over the weekend he made it clear that he's not in this for himself. On Sunday night in Auckland, New Zealand, John had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia, but he got on stage anyway. He played and sang until he couldn't anymore. He collapsed onto a stool after delivering "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," and medical assistance was on hand with oxygen to help him recover and continue the show. All this drama while the cheering crowd looked on. When, finally, he could not sing another bar, he broke down in tears and was escorted off the stage.

In an Instagram post shortly after, John apologized to concertgoers, saying, "I want to thank everyone who attended tonight's gig in Auckland. I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible. I played and sang my heart out, until my voice could sing no more. I'm disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had." Despite the fact that he performed for over two hours while seriously ill, he was apologizing to his fans for not delivering the best possible concert. He is not just a musical god, but an icon of devotion and hard work. Elton John is better than we deserve.

The remainder of his Auckland shows have been rescheduled for January of next year while John recovers his health and prepares for the next leg of his tour. This tour is intended as his last, but it's still hard to imagine a man like Elton John ever stopping. He will be performing in Europe, Australia, and North America throughout 2020.