Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's 'Telephone' video: Beautiful cigarette sunglasses, Honey Buns, and sandwich-making

Gay Christmas arrived last night in the form of the latest Lady Gaga video for “Telephone,” which features Beyoncé. Before I pontificate on the video itself, why don’t you just take a gander at the infusion of Thelma & Louise, ridiculous fashions, sandwich making (hello, Miracle Whip!), and “Cell Block Tango” here:

First of all: What a beautiful mess. You can be assured that I spent the nine-plus minutes with my eyes bugging out, ferociously taking down ideas for potential Halloween costumes.

And second of all: Bravo Gaga! Say what you will about the diva and this video specifically (I’ve already been reading some less-than-enthusiastic reviews on the internets this morning, although I’m not gonna dignify them by linking), but “Telephone” is a masterpiece. And, it goes without saying that no one in the past decade has done more for the music video genre than this lady. Just look at the fact that the anticipation for this nine and a half minute clip warranted a week-long run-up, with promotions for its big reveal on E! last night beginning during the Oscars on Sunday. Is it as good as her epic “Bad Romance” video? Sadly, I don’t think so. But it’s better than anything else out there.

True, I found myself confused during most of the video. A billion questions floated to mind: Is Lady Gaga in prison now after being arrested in “Paparazzi”? Since when did a women’s prison turn into a banging lesbian club, complete with Cell Block Tango and make-out sessions? (Oh, wait…nevermind.) Where the eff did she get those (literally smokin’) cigarette sunglasses? And, why haven’t I ever thought of using Diet Coke cans as hair rollers before? (Lord knows I’ve got piles of them here in my office.) Is that Lady Gaga out of Lady Gaga-wear (aka Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) there in the prison?!? (YES!) Who—tell me, who!—has even considered eating a Honey Bun in the past decade? And why are Gaga and her posse using sandwich items like heads of lettuce and baguettes as telephones? Is that Miracle Whip? But, really, who cares? It’s fun!

The mini-movie featured much more than just the song, clearly. My favorite were the slew of awesome lines, starting with the moment after the prison guards ripped Gaga’s clothes off and threw her in a cell: “I told you,” one butch guard said to another, “she didn’t have a d—.” Lord jesus! And I was simultaneously delighted and perplexed by Gaga’s bon mot upon getting into the car with her apparent-lover Beyoncé: “You know what they say: Once you kill a cow, you gotta make a burger.” That whole thing—PussyWagon and all—was so beyond Thelma & Louise I almost couldn’t stand it.

And then there’s the add of poor Tyrese—who didn’t last long. He had to go, after dissing B, which also sparked a genius line: “I knew you’d take all my honey,” Beyoncé told him after poisoning him, “you selfish mother f—er!”

It’s funny, I actually found myself not even paying attention one iota to the music. I’ve been listening to “Telephone” for what feels like years now, so this video instantly became about obsessing over what Gaga added to the song, the over-the-top one-liners, the weird product placement (Virgin Mobile!), the eye-candy visuals, the WTF-iness of the story. Autostraddle does an amazing and rather hilarious nearly frame-by-frame breakdown of the video, which I believe is essential reading material, for helping to decipher—or at least revel in—”Telephone.”

But what do you think, fans? Are you obsessed? Did Gaga do it again? Is this better than “Bad Romance”—or worse? Are you going to run out and make a sandwich with Miracle Whip? Purchase a Honey Bun? Roll your hair with Diet Coke cans? Rename your big ol’ truck the PussyWagon? What—pray tell—will this video inspire you to do?!

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix

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Lady Antebellum returns to the top of the charts; Blake Shelton and Danny Gokey debut strong
Raekwon and Ghostface bring Wu-Massacre to NYC
Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch talks health, album plans
She & Him’s new ‘In the Sun’ video: Watch Zooey Deschanel schoolhouse rock
Lil Wayne goes to prison: Why his career will survive

Comments (340 total) Add your comment
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  • Corrie

    this is such a great collaboration. Freakin A+ to gaga and beyonce. This is so good, I am excited to see what she keeps bringing to these music videos.

    • EWsMom

      It was great – except it almost came across as a long QVC commercial…talk about product placement GALORE! Good grief!

      • Q

        Yah, that part was annoying.

      • hill

        She has to pay for these videos somehow!

        Nice work.

      • CG

        IMO, I think that was the idea….I mean there are more interesting things to promote then Wonderbread & Miracle Whip which makes me think that the in-your-face cheese factor of the product placements was intentional.

      • KC

        Product placement was annoying, and I am talking about items that GaGa is directly connected with (i.e. Virgin Mobile is the promoter of her tour, the earbud headphones that she markets on her website & Polaroid who she just signed a contract with)… kinda tacky

      • ef

        I took the product placement, and leather jacket as homage to George Michael: Faith and Killa/Papa Was A Rolling Stone….loved it!

      • Jack

        The product placement was a postmodern tactic similar to those used by Andy Warhol. (Think his Campbell’s Soup Cans).

        Remember — Lady Gaga is an artist. Every aspect of this video is deliberate. She’s making a statement through her art.

      • adam

        Maybe by using Virgin Mobile shes making the statement that she’s a virgin?

    • TorontoTom

      GENIUS! Vive la Gaga!

      • MultiPass

        Agree! But the writer of this article is an idiot. HEY TANNER, go watch Kill Bill (Pussy Wagon, cryptic dialogue, girl fights, mass homicide, sardonic chiron inserts) and Pulp Fiction (burger reference, diner scene, titles, non linear narrative) to get the other half of the references. THEN make the obvious bridge to the pulp fiction lesbian prison books and films that this video is blatantly referencing. It is a BRILLIANT pastiche of themes, imagery, tone, dialogue and narrative of hipster touchstones in film. Not to mention a few Madonna videos thrown in for good measure and a huge dose of tongue-in-cheek humor. Wayyyy cooler and thought out than the Bad Romance video, which was just a bunch of extreme images thrown together and a paper thin narrative (albeit excellent).

        If you can’t see this for what it is, you really have no business being a critic. Go back to just being a superfan, sweetie.

    • alex

      i may just be very behind, but didn’t she already make a video for telephone? explain.. what was that weird video with the white leotards?

      • Fridge

        Probably the music video for Beyonce’s song Videophone or whatever it’s called.

    • Ladyli1

      I agree! That video was TOO MUCH CRAZY FUN!! I really love the Tarantino references. GaGa is on a roll!

    • Rashad

      I thought “Telephone” was AMAZING!!!! I absolutely loved it!!! Lady Gaga + Beyonce = A FREAKIN’ AWESOME MUSIC VIDEO!!!!

    • Alison

      I love Gaga, but this didn’t work for me.

      • LD

        Thank you! She could save this “over the top” movie for a song that fits. It was a disappointment for that song. I was looking forward to LG & B doing a enjoyable video that “FIT” the song. Atleast “Thrill” fit it’s movie.

      • jeff

        The fact Beyonce was in it ruined it for me.

    • Nick T

      I bought a honey bun today.

      Lady Gaga rules the world.

  • Corrie

    btw not a lady gaga fan, but i have to admit like i said before, this is definately a well crafted masterpiece

    • Anthony

      Yeah me neither, but this video is really some kind of masterpiece.

      • jeff

        How can you not like Gaga? She the freshest, most exciting thing to happen to music in over 20 years.

      • whatevs

        Jeff, not everyone likes that genre of music. Is that very hard for you to believe?

      • jeff

        I’m talking about talent idiot! You probably like that rap crap.

  • austinrob

    Loved the shout out to MJ…he started the whole turning a music video into a mini-movie & she took the time to acknowledge him. Brilliant!

    • Kel

      Agreed! That was lovely, just lovely.

      I can’t say if it’s quite better than “Bad Romance,” but this is one of the best videos of this type I’ve seen in a while.

      She smashed so many rumours in that video. The acting wasn’t the best, but the tounge-and-cheek vibe of the video helped. :)

      • sunny

        “tongue-IN-cheek”, just trying to be helpful :) i caught my mom from “playing it by AIR” and totally agree with your opinion of the video!

      • Kel

        Oh! Of course. My mistake. Thanks!

      • Joseph T


    • Celia

      I loved that too!

    • erinimrie

      What part exactly is a shout out to MJ??

      • loma

        The part before she leaves the jail.

      • austinrob

        The part where she is leaving the jail…she sorta stops and makes a sound & a quick step…watch 4 it.

      • erinimrie

        ooohh @austinrob THANKS!! i totally missed that!

      • Celia

        A lot of the dancing is very Michael Jackson-esque too.

      • yvette

        Anytime there’s a shout out to Michael, I’m happy. But he also told K Ortega, just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. He also once said, he liked it when people honored him tastefully….the whole thing was just odd to me. Beyonce, why?

  • Andy

    I love the creativity of this video and there’s this one part that clearly shows that she’s a gir. I don’t know why they say she’s a she male.

    • Shane

      Because most people in the mainstream got all up in arms about the bluffin’ with my muffin line- because the fear of anyone different in this country is both palpable and sickening.
      I have so much respect for Lady G.

    • derek

      It’s because during an awards show in Europe, at one point, a lil extra sumthin sumthin flashed between her legs. Could be anything…loose fabric, bad lighting, who knows? But it sparked a lot of rumors

      • Lisa

        She started the flap (no pun intended) on purpose to get people talking. The woman’s a genius. She’s taken a lot of lessons from how Madonna did things in the 80’s & early 90’s. (Go back & watch Madonna’s tour movie Truth or Dare from 1991. The police warned her people that they were going to arrest her if she acted out masturbation on stage. She totally was for it!)

    • Jean Genie

      So many of the Gaga haters seemed threatened by her. They also feel their favorite divas are being threatened by her fame. I’d rather enjoy Gaga’s quirkiness than, say, wait for Amy Crackhouse to get her act together (which will be probably never) or watch “virginal” Taylor Swift grow up before our very eyes. I also think Madonna or Beyonce will get through all this just fine.

  • Isabel

    That was simply fantastic. I can’t wait for the continuation!

  • Isabel

    AND I love the whole fact that she and B were deliberately acting over the top so that it jived with the whole “prison movie” thing. LOVED it.

  • Janice

    I must be getting old because I don’t get it. I really really don’t get it.

    • JCK

      Yep, you are right about yourself.

      • JD

        somewhere between 2003 and right now, “music” became a whole different thing generated by computer programs and pretty girls. i blame disney.

      • Mary Q. Contrary

        Hey, JD, why don’t you log onto the Bonnaroo website, and check out the lineup. Every year, 75,000 people pay 250 big ones to see these bands. Though there are a few pretty girls in the mix, and maybe even a couple of computer programs, I’d say the state of music today is thriving, and that you’re actually the problem. Turn off your radio, log off the internet, and visit your local record store, my friend. Oh, and pick up some Lady Gaga, while you’re at it.

      • Fatima

        Mary Q Contrary is dead on. Pop music is always what will be most commercial and if people got off their high horses, they would recognize when it is well done. Those too lazy to do any bit of searching for so called “real” music are the only ones who think music has disappeared.

      • Nick T

        Yeah Fatima. You wouldn’t believe how many working artist like Gaga. I know cuz I work at the Art Institute of Chicago and it’s always the first thing I ask.

      • Alissa

        not sure what a hippiefest like Bonnaroo has to do in a discussion about Lady Gaga (and yes, I went to the last two years of Bonnaroo, and yes, they do also have mainstream music such as Kanye West, but we remember how well that went over…)

        I don’t believe music has disappeared, I think people just aren’t looking for it in the right places. very rarely do you discover true musical talent on pop radio.

        Gaga can sing, and her songs are catchy, but I wouldn’t go overboard on calling her an artist. she’s pop just as much as Britney Spears, it’s just a different take.

    • Ardecy

      You’re overthinking it. Either you got all the Grade D movie references or you didn’t. You really have to be a movie buff to “get” the whole thing. But, just as a piece of moviemaking, it was fun, fun, fun. Isn’t that all it’s meant to be?

    • Sally in Chicago

      She. Can’t. Dance. And she is the most unattractive woman in the world. The same beats in every song.

      • ladygaga

        if u knew tht… then y did u watch her vids y do u want to express urself like wat alot of haters luv doing on the chart :)LMAO ROFLMAO ! brainless freak THINK BE4 U TYPE :)>3

    • LG

      I’m 45 & I totally got it. She’s brilliant. Gaga reminds me of a young Madonna. Madonna did a ton of stuff on stage and in videos to shock people, but then everyone copied her. The 80’s was all about Michael Jackson & Madonna: most innovative music, dance moves, videos, stage shows. There hasn’t been another truely brilliant total-package performer since them–until now.

    • kate

      WEll then i must be very old at 21 becasue i didnt understand one moment of it, all i kept thinking was that Gaga ruined beyonce who is beyond a doubt the best pop star (even if im not a fan) of this century!

  • Q

    LOVE it! Great to see Beyonce try something different. And Gaga, what can you say. Never dull.

  • TheObserver

    Not exactly coherent but in a Gaga way thats what makes it makes sense. it’s like a plotless mini movie. The less you try to understand it the more awesome the video becomes!

    • Bobby

      The only reson for which why you disagree with what gaga does is for the fact that you dont really understand what being different is about. You live in a society where you believe we all have to be the same and guess what its not like that. Not to brag but whatever gaga does is her business and not yours. People its about time that someone with a different mindset and some one that isnt afrain to be different came into the picture. People like you will never learn how the true beauty of being different is.

      Dont start bagging on Beyonce. Anything that Beyonce participates in is for one reason and one reason only its because she knows that it would be a successful thing. Like TheObserver says “it’s like a plotless mini movie. The less you try to understand it the more awesome the video becomes!”

  • Kristen

    I wish i could understand her hype. I honestly think she is talentless, the video is a bloated overindulgent mess that stops and starts and ruins the halfway decent overly produced song. And Beyonce as usual is the worst part of the project which is saying something next to gaga

    • skyllz22

      For all the haters, I place a battle on telling everyone out there what video RIGHT NOW is better then this one, Or even better then Bad Romance, Or even maybe Paparazzi. This video isn’t supposed to make sense besides that fact that beyonce kills her lover. To call lady gaga talentless is crude, considering she gets praises for some of the best performances on the award shows.

      • JD

        yes i dare you to take a bigger dump. this is the biggest dump EVER. complete with some great slogans. if those prisoners use those products, i wanna use those products. i am good enough to be a prison lesbian too.

    • Vivi

      The girl is SOOO not talentless. Please, just take the time out to go to YouTube and check out her non-videos performances. The girl is above talented. She’s a genius.

    • Q

      You really have to compare what Gaga is doing with these videos with the rest of the mass-produced trash out there. These are high-concept pieces. Maybe they are nuts. Maybe you don’t like them or feel like you don’t get it, but she is the first artist to come along in 10 years and actually push the music video genre forward again. Many of today’s most successful and innovative directors started out in music videos. It’s important that this form continues to be a progressive way for new talent to get noticed.

      • Avant Garde

        Well put!

      • Sally in Chicago

        This is an homage to MJ’s videos. He used to take songs and turn them into mini-movies. Nothing new.

        The quality if highly produced, but I find her songs irritating. It’s all dance songs.

    • Jorgan Von Strangle

      I also don’t really understand what all the hype is about, considering that every video I see from her just seems entirely overdone, in a non-progressional way. I wouldn’t say gaga is talentless, because she can hold a note, which is more than I can do. But as a film maker myself, I know the difference between a good concept and a bad one; and too often I see gaga materializing non-memorable concepts. Hopefully her videos will be more mentally stimulating in the future.

      • Max

        yeah, the “as a film maker myself” discredits your comment. If you truly are a film maker, you should know that art is subjective and what some find mentally stimulating, others might not… stop being so pompous pretending to be an authority on something that doesn’t require you to be one. Watch and appreciate, that’s all you need to do.

      • Reggie

        I agree with Max 100% – your comment stating that you were a film maker was either an outright fabrication or incredibly pompous. Or both.

        Art is subjective. Talent is subjective. If you really are a film maker, you would know that. I assume that you’re a failed film maker… or just one with his head in his a*s.

  • crispy

    Oh, great. Now that crazy Gaga fan is gonna be embedding this video in every thread on EW.

    • Fatima


  • EWsMom

    BTW, why in the world didn’t Tanner Stransky capitalize the word Jesus? Especially when he’s using it to describe a line about “d*ck”??

    I’m FAR from being a conservative, but seriously now…

    • andy

      go hug palin

    • Derrr

      jesus is not real, silly

      • anonymous

        edgy – not

      • JLI

        Whatever your religious beliefs, it’s a proper name, and Tanner’s a professional writer.

      • Me A

        Jesus IS real, silly.

      • MC

        You’re goin to hell.

  • aa

    Next to Beyonce, Gaga looked particularly fugly

    • ladygaga


  • spidy

    truly amazing. everything from the corny “Women in prison” flick opening, to the “Kill Bill” style dialog, to the ridiculous abundance of product placement was all handled so well and it was a downright blast!

    I love how on the surface, the song has nothing to do with the video, but once you really look at it, the themes match up. The song is about feeling suffocated, and meanwhile we are being suffocated by product placement all around us. Not to mention the constriction feeling of prison. And yes, this is supposed to be a continuation of “Paparazzi”.

  • stephen

    The Pussy Wagon is from “Kill Bill.”

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