Youth Culture Window

Lady Gaga “Vomits” Judas

Ahhh Easter…a season to focus on Jesus, His death, and His resurrection. Serious reflection usually brings new reasons to love Him. Orrrr…we could ponder Lady Gaga’s new song Judas, and try to understand why she chooses a traitor over the Savior.


Introducing Judas
Judas is the latest single to be released off of Lady Gaga’s album Born This Way. Its original release date of April 19th was wildly anticipated by millions of her “monsters” (fans) – so wildly, in fact, that the release date had to be advanced after a British radio station prematurely played the tune on April 15th. (As of this writing, the song has only been on the airwaves for 6 days, and it’s already cracked Billboard’s Top 10.) 

To promote the new tune, Lady Gaga employed her video blog aptly titled Gagavision. In Gagavision #41, the singer teases her viewers at the end by saying, “So that concludes Gagavision Number 41. ‘Judas’ is coming. Let the cultural baptism begin.” A message then reads: “Judas April 19. If they were not who you were taught they would be, would you still believe?”

Musically-speaking, Judas is exactly what someone familiar with Gaga’s music would expect: lots of synthesizer sounds, some chanting, and lyrics that excite some…and enrage others(More on that in a moment.) Likewise, the musical reviews of the single are also mixed. Regardless, as always, kids have easy access to the song via iTunes or even for free on YouTube (for those of you that want to listen to the song for yourself).

Judging Judas
Several Christian entities have leveled criticism at Gaga for the religious overtones in her song. In this single, Gaga makes a multitude of religious/biblical references – some clear, some vague, and some inaccurate – that cause representatives of orthodox belief to raise a skeptical eyebrow.

Gaga’s response?

In an interview with the United Kingdom’s NME, Lady Gaga replies, “I feel like honestly that God sent me those lyrics and that melody. When you feel a message to give to the world and people are shooting arrows through it… there’s no way for something that pure to be wrong.”

So…what are those lyrics?

Here’s a stanza taken from her new song:

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

The rest of the lyrics can be found here…if you can understand them.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Geez…that sounds like she just vomited on paper for 15 minutes…and then sold it as a song.”

Ummm…you might actually be right.

In Gagavision #43 (warning: coarse language), Lady Gaga – while sitting in a tub wearing horns on her shoulders – admits, “I wrote it [Judas] really quick. I mean, all of the songs on the album, to be completely candid, the creative process is approximately a 15-minute vomiting. It’s 15 minutes of vomiting my creative ideas in the forms of melodies, usually, or chord progressions and melodies and some sort of a theme, lyric idea. It all happens in approximately 15 minutes, of this, like, giant regurgitation of my thoughts and feelings. And then I spend days, weeks, months, years fine tuning. But the idea is that you honor your vomit.”

So…Lady Gaga – herself – reduces her music to finely tuned vomit. Finely tuned vomit that’s been inspired by God.

Hey…she’s the one who said it.

Cultural Baptism
Lady Gaga’s promotion of Judas promised a “cultural baptism.” But what does she mean by that?

Does Lady Gaga feel betrayed by culture? Is she hoping to baptize others into her preferential culture? Does she identify with someone in Scripture? (At some points, she seems to be portraying Mary: I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs. At other points, she almost sings from the standpoint of Jesus: Even after three times, he betrays me. [No one in Scripture gets betrayed three times; Peter denied Jesus three times.] Still other references hint at a Roman – or Jewish – official: I’ll bring him down, bring him down, down, a king with no crown, king with no crown.)

More than likely, these lyrics just reveal Lady Gaga’s need for identity, relationship, and community. At its core, baptism offers a person an association with a particular group (like a Christian gets with the church). Just like every human, Lady Gaga desires a deep connection with others; she wants to be wanted. Unfortunately, her pursuit of that desire seems to be leading her in the wrong direction. Take a look:

I wanna love you,
But something’s pulling me away from you
Jesus is my virtue, Judas is the demon I cling to (I cling to)
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
Oh-oh-oh-ohoo I’m in love with Juda-as, Juda-as
Oh-oh-oh-ohoo I’m in love with Juda-as, Juda-as

Sadly, when given the opportunity to identify herself with Jesus (her virtue), she chooses Judas (her demon), instead. When she has the prerogative to choose, she chooses the one who greedily betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26). Buried inside the many questions her song raises is this one blaring reality: Lady Gaga connects with Judas more than Jesus.

How do we prevent our teenagers from making the same choice?

Raising (the Right) Questions
I must admit, there are many facets of this song I do not understand; it seems largely nonsensical to me. The forthcoming music video will probably shed a lot of light on exactly what Gaga is trying to accomplish. In the meantime, it might be best for you to shed some of your own light onto the topic.

One of the best ways to help teenagers grapple with this song and its message is to ask them several questions about it. Here are a few simple questions to jumpstart your conversation. (Before you launch into a discussion with your teens, realize two things: first, you might not like their answers all the time, and second, they might ask you a few questions in response. Bottom line: be prepared.)

 

  1. What do you think the song Judas is really about?
  2. What do you know about Jesus and Judas? (You might point out that Judas was a traitor, and traitors betray. Jesus was the Savior, and the Savior saves.)
  3. If one thing is clear from this song, it’s that Lady Gaga chooses Judas over Jesus. Why do you think she does that?
  4. In what ways is Lady Gaga’s song consistent with Scripture? In what ways is it inconsistent?
  5. In your life, do you ever choose Judas over Jesus? If so, how?
  6. What’s one thing you need to do differently in life that will identify you with Jesus instead of Judas?

As I read Lady Gaga describe her music as “vomit,” I couldn’t help but think of the ancient saying in Proverbs 26:11 that reads, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” If we have honest and genuine conversations with our kids – asking and answering questions – we might be able to keep them from returning to Lady Gaga’s vomit.

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David R. Smith

David R. Smith

David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.

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