It's interesting that even as Lady Gaga has almost singlehandedly helped revive major artistic events, the artist herself is a deeply mediocre, limited dancer. Periodically, I stumble into a dream artistic team-up. And for the cause of dance videos, I dearly wish that Gaga would find her way into working with Ne-Yo.
Part of it's that I just love Ne-Yo, who in videos like the one for "Miss Independent" seems to be getting close to some good narrative concepts, but pulling back at the last minute. But I also think Gaga could learn a lot from Ne-Yo. Take a look at the video for "Beautiful Monster," his latest (which coincidentally could kind of act as a response to Lady Gaga's "Monster," if not for the fact that he doesn't really address the date rape in Gaga's video, which would be important if the songs were to truly be in conversation):
The concept's kind of dopey, though done better, the Ne-Yo-as-MJ-slash-Hancock thing could have been a little bit more compelling. But as crazy sloppy as this is, and as terrible as the animation is (woo, glowing eyes), the song's a good illustration of the possibilities of dance for narrative. Because Ne-Yo's a strong, fluid dancer, he can pull off the fight scenes he's doing. There's a languidness to his drunken stagger. What could have been highly conventional suddenly contains a little bit of poetry, and that's impressive.
How much better, for example, would the video for "Alejandro" have been if it could have had a dramatic, epic, beautifully executed dance sequence? If some of the anti-sex attitudes of the song could have been rendered less in awkward wiggling about than in real mastery of movement? Dance doesn't have to just convey beauty—it can be about repulsion, and a whole host of other emotions and reactions, too.
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