"Bad Romance" is a song by American singer Lady Gaga from her third extended play, The Fame Monster (2009). It was written and produced by Nadir "RedOne" Khayat and Lady Gaga. Lyrically, "Bad Romance" explores Gaga's attraction to individuals with whom romance never works, her preference for lonely relationships and the paranoia she experienced while on tour. Following an illegal demo leak, Gaga showcased the final product at Alexander McQueen's show at the Paris Fashion Week in October 2009, followed by the release of the single's cover art. Musically, "Bad Romance" features a spoken bridge, a full-throated chorus and sung lyrics about being in love with one's best friend. The song, which is imbued with elements of German-esque house and techno, as well as music from the 1980s and 1990s, was touted by Gaga as an experimental pop record. The song contains a few lines in French.
Gaga collaborated with Nadir "RedOne" Khayat in writing "Bad Romance", and Khayat took charge of production. The song was recorded at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles and FC Walvisch Recording Media Studios in Amsterdam. "Bad Romance" was released as the lead single from The Fame Monster (2009), Gaga's follow-up to her debut album, The Fame (2008). Before its official release, a demo version of the song was published illegally on the internet, prompting Gaga to comment via Twitter, "leaked next single is makin my ears bleed. Wait till you hear the real version." A snippet of the song was performed on Saturday Night Live on October 3, 2009, along with "Poker Face" and "LoveGame". The final version of "Bad Romance" premiered during the finale of fashion designer Alexander McQueen's 2010 Paris Fashion Week show, and the song's release followed on October 19.
According to Gaga, the song was one of her initial efforts among the songs that she wrote in 2009 while touring. The songs composed during that time were about the various abstract "monsters"--metaphors for her paranoias--that she faced during the tour. One of these concepts became the inspiration behind "Bad Romance". Gaga explained that she generally felt lonely when she was involved in a relationship and that she was attracted to men with whom romance never works. "Bad Romance" explores her preference for such lonely relationships and her poor choice in men. Gaga wrote the lyrics in Norway on her tour bus. She elaborated on the writing process in an interview with Grazia:
I was in Russia, then Germany, and spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe. There is this amazing German house-techno music, so I wanted to make a pop experimental record. I kind of wanted to leave the '80s a little bit, so the chorus is a '90s melody, which is what the inspiration was. There was certainly some whisky involved in the writing of the record. It's about being in love with your best friend.
"Bad Romance" is an electropop and dance-pop song with house, new wave and techno influences. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is set in common time with a metronome of 119 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of A minor, with Gaga's vocal range spanning from the low-note of E3 to the high-note of C5. The song follows in the chord progression of Am-C-F-C-G in the verses and F-G-Am-C-F-G-E-Am in the chorus. It opens with Gaga singing a portion of the chorus, then transitioning into the "Rah-rah--ah-ah-ah, Roma-roma-ma, Gaga-ooh-la-la" hook, which Gaga says is an abbreviation of the word "romance". It is followed by the sound of drum beats and keyboards. After the first verse, the pre-chorus follows, with Gaga voicing the lines, "You know that I want you, And you know that I need you, I want your bad, your bad romance". The full-throated chorus then follows, where she sings, "I want your love, And I want your revenge, You and me could write a bad romance ... Caught in a bad romance".
Gil Kaufman from MTV News found similarities between the tempo of "Bad Romance" and Gaga's previous single "Poker Face". Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine noticed the 1980s influences that resonate throughout the track: "If melodies could be time-stamped, these would have '80s' branded on their asses." Daniel Brockman of The Phoenix pinpointed not only the declarations of liberation "from a significant other", but the Depeche Mode and Madonna-esque qualities that permeate "Bad Romance". To Pitchfork Media journalist Scott Plagenhoef, Gaga was able to transform her persona to reflect various female entertainers of similar vein, including Britney Spears, Madonna and Amy Winehouse. Simon Price from The Independent heard characteristics of Boney M in the chorus, and stated that the first line of the song, "I want your ugly, I want your disease", established the grim tone of The Fame Monster.
The lyrics address aspects of a bad relationship, but also reference fashion in the line, "Walk, walk fashion baby, Work it move that bitch crazy." In an interview, Gaga stated that in the verse, "I want your psycho, your vertigo shtick, Want you in my Rear Window, Baby, you're sick", she was listing Alfred Hitchcock films. She said, "What I'm really trying to say is I want the deepest, darkest, sickest parts of you that you are afraid to share with anyone because I love you that much."
"Bad Romance" was widely acclaimed by critics. In a 2011 review for the song, Rolling Stone declared it the best song in Gaga's discography. Epitomizing the "essence of Gagaism", the publication was enamored by the song's "relentlessly" catchy chorus and "pummeling" beat, which reflected a track that was "grand", "joyful" and "melancholy". Kaufman, while applauding the drastic transition into a bombastic "Erasure-esque throb during the chorus", felt that the instant catch that was apparent in her earlier singles was absent in "Bad Romance".Kitty Empire of The Guardian argued that instances such as this established Gaga as a figure comparable to Madonna.
Referring to her emerging popularity, Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone notes that "Bad Romance" makes the singer's name a "Teutonic chant". Daniel Kreps, a columnist from the aforementioned publication, writing about the song's initial leak, felt that it was comparable to "Poker Face" and was not on a par with her other singles.Christopher John Farley from The Wall Street Journal praised the "Jabberwockian" catchiness of the hook, while Michael Hubbard from MusicOMH opined that the chorus of the song was Gaga's best yet.Pitchfork Media placed "Bad Romance" at number 39 in its top 100 tracks of 2009, saying that it was "epic in construction", and Edna Gundersen of USA Today commented that the song was a "ferocious club thumper" that possessed a "sordid underbelly". The Boston Public Health Commission rated "Bad Romance" as number 10 on its list of "Top 10 List of Songs with Unhealthy Relationship Ingredients".
Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times wrote about the lead single's "turbocharged Euro-soul", while BBC critic Paul Lester summed up "Bad Romance" as a song with "cheesy rave synths, the now typically Gaga stomping beat and a controversy-lite lyric." Monica Herrera from Billboard, while saying that it was not as catchy as Gaga's previous efforts, commended the track's "wicked sex appeal", and Jon Blistein from L Magazine wrote about the organization of the song. He felt that "Bad Romance" "[revelled] in the nightmare it tries to create with Hitchcock references and somber vocals", but lacked cohesion, that it was an amalgamation of "Cher song", "faux-European accented verse", "power disco chorus" and "bland spoken-word bridge".
In the United States, "Bad Romance" debuted at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 14, 2009, making it Gaga's highest debuting song on the chart at the time. It sold 143,000 paid digital downloads in its first week. After two weeks the song moved from number 11 to number two, which became its peak. It held the spot for seven non-consecutive weeks. The movement to the runner-up spot was first prompted by a 49% digital gain, and the song topped the Hot Digital Songs chart after selling 209,000 digital copies that week. "Bad Romance" became Gaga's third-highest peaking song on the Hot 100, behind "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". As of February 2019, "Bad Romance" has sold 5.9 million copies in the US, according to Nielsen Soundscan, making Gaga the second artist in digital history to have three singles--along with the two aforementioned songs--pass the five million mark in digital sales. After RIAA started including video streams in their tabulation of the single certifications, "Bad Romance" was certified 11× platinum for eleven million in total of sales and streaming. "Bad Romance" debuted on the Pop Songs chart at number 38, and moved to the top position, making it Gaga's fifth consecutive number one single on the chart. The same week, it also topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. According to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, it briefly set the record for most weekly plays in the 17-year history of the Pop Songs chart, registering 10,859 plays from 130 radio stations monitored for the chart. Following Gaga's Super Bowl LI halftime show performance, "Bad Romance" re-entered the Hot 100 at number 50, while at number 9 on Digital Song Sales. On the Canadian Hot 100, "Bad Romance" debuted at number 58, and reached number one the following week, making it Gaga's third chart-topper in the country. After being replaced by Kesha's "Tik Tok" for two weeks, "Bad Romance" returned to the top spot on the chart.Music Canada certified "Bad Romance" septuple platinum, denoting shipments of 560,000 copies. The song sold 9.7 million copies worldwide in 2010, and 12 million in total, thus becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.
Europe and Oceania
After its release in the United Kingdom, "Bad Romance" debuted at number 14 on the UK Singles Chart. In December 2009, the song reached the top spot with 72,919 copies sold, making it Gaga's third UK number-one single. She became the first female in British chart history to have three number-one singles in one year.[a] In the first week of 2010, "Bad Romance" returned to the number one spot after two weeks, making her the second female artist of the 21st century to have two separate runs at the top spot. The song attained double platinum certification by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), for 1.2 million equivalent units. It has sold 1.045 million copies and has been streamed 7.53 million times. The release of her single "Applause" in August 2013 prompted an increase in sales of "Bad Romance"; it sold one million copies in the UK, making Gaga one of 17 artists with a million-selling song in the country.
On October 29, 2009, "Bad Romance" debuted on the Irish Singles Chart at number 20; it reached the top in its seventh week. In Sweden, the song debuted at number three and reached the top of the chart after two weeks. Across Europe, the song remained at number one in Greece for 7 weeks, and topped the charts in Austria, Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. On the European Hot 100 Singles chart, "Bad Romance" spent two weeks at number one.
"Bad Romance" debuted at number 16 on the ARIA Singles Chart in Australia and at number 33 on the RIANZ Singles Chart in New Zealand. The next week, the song was the greatest gainer on the Australian chart, rising to number three. In its seventh charting week, the song peaked at number two in Australia and at number three in New Zealand. The song was certified quadruple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 280,000 copies of the single.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gaga confirmed Francis Lawrence as the director of the music video and said that she was impressed with the final version. She explained, "I knew [Lawrence's] ability as a director is so much higher than what I could [do]." Her creative team Haus of Gaga managed the art direction, and the final video premiered on November 10, 2009. Gaga described her experience of working with Lawrence:
I wanted somebody with a tremendous understanding of how to make a pop video, because my biggest challenge working with directors is that I am the director and I write the treatments and I get the fashion and I decide what it's about and it's very hard to find directors that will relinquish any sort of input from the artist ... But Francis and I worked together ... It was collaborative. He's a really pop video director and a filmmaker ... I knew he could execute the video in a way that I could give him all my weirdest, most psychotic ideas ... But it would come across to and be relevant to the public.
The concept of the music video was a joint collaboration between Gaga and Lawrence. The video was initially planned to be shot in New York City, with more elaborate sets, including sets outdoors. This idea was later scrapped, as the budget for the video was low and there was no product placement. Because of Gaga's schedule, it was shot in Los Angeles over a two-day period. Lawrence described Gaga's work ethic and creativity during the video shoot: "She loves the art form of music videos and she is a real creative partner and has great ideas and really cool and unique tastes." He praised her teamwork, punctuality and spontaneity, hoping to work with her on a new material in the future.
Gaga created a pair of razor-blade sunglasses--which she believed portrayed tough female spirit--to wear in the video, explaining, "It's meant to be, 'This is my shield, this is my weapon, this is my inner sense of fame, this is my monster." Gaga also said that the video shows "how the entertainment industry can, in a metaphorical way, simulate human trafficking - products being sold, the woman perceived as a commodity." The white latex suits in the video were inspired by the wolf costume from the film Where the Wild Things Are. She wore designer Alexander McQueen's 12-inch (300 mm) high shoes and "Alien" shoes.
The main idea behind the video is that of Gaga getting kidnapped by a group of supermodels who drug her and then sell her off to the Russian mafia for a million rubles. It takes place in a fluorescent white bathhouse. The video begins with Gaga sitting on a white throne in a brightly-lit white room. The scene shows her wearing the razor-blade glasses and surrounded by people and a harlequin Great Dane. She has her finger on the mute button of an iPod speaker, and as she releases it, "Bad Romance" begins to play and a dimly-lit bathhouse is shown. A bright light pans across the walls, activating fluorescent lighting, which shines through a sign reading "Bath Haus of GaGa". As the first hook of the song begins, a group of female dancers wearing white long-sleeved leotards with knee-high boots and matching crowns crawl out of white, coffin-like pods. The center pod has "Mons+er" written on it, and Gaga emerges wearing an outfit similar to those worn by the others, who begin to dance behind her. A pastiche of ensuing scenes alternates between Gaga singing to herself in front of a mirror and lying in a bathtub.
When the chorus of the song begins, two women pull Gaga out of the bathtub, rip her top clothing off and force her to drink a glass of vodka. As the second verse begins, Gaga, wearing a diamond-covered outfit topped with a crown, seductively dances for a group of men bidding for her. She straddles one of the men, played by Slovenian model Jurij Brada?, and performs a lap dance for him. Afterwards, the man raises his bid and becomes the highest bidder for her. When the chorus is played for the third time, Gaga is shown wearing a faux-polar bear hide jacket. She walks towards the man, who is sitting on a bed and unbuttoning his shirt, while drinking a glass of vodka. Gaga has a look of indifference on her face and removes her jacket and sunglasses. Suddenly, the bed spontaneously combusts with the man still sitting on it, and Gaga sings in a sinister way in front of the flames. The video ends with her lying beside a smoldering skeleton, on top of the destroyed bed, covered in ashes. With soot smeared across her body, she calmly smokes a cigarette while her pyrotechnic bra activates.
Tim Stack from Entertainment Weekly called the video "amazing" and added, "I don't think Gaga has ever looked prettier than in the close-ups where she's more stripped down." Jennifer Cady of E! was also impressed by the video and commented, "This music video really makes us appreciate everything Gaga actually brings to pop music. She's exciting to watch, plain and simple. ... We need someone like Gaga to really bring it. To put actual thought and care into her product so that it feels alive". Issie Lapowsky of New York Daily News thought Gaga laid the "theatrics on thick" in the video but complimented her for wearing minimal makeup, calling it "refreshingly normal". Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times said that the video brought back his faith in performance art, and that "Gaga brings enough [drama] on her own, thank you very much." He also thought the set for the video "worthy of a feature-length film". Daniel Kreps from Rolling Stone felt that the scenes from the music video were reminiscent of the work of Stanley Kubrick. He added that in "Bad Romance", Gaga portrays her craziest ideas yet.
Jocelyn Vena from MTV believed that the video was symbolic and portrayed how "the old Gaga is over, here's the brand-new Gaga: the one who seems to delight in pushing the boundaries and exploring all manner of sexual proclivities". She further believed that the video was a testament to Gaga's brilliance "as an artist that uses the video art form as the jump-off point for the next leg of their career". In 2011, Claire Suddath of Time said that although later Gaga videos were more elaborate, "Bad Romance" was Gaga at her best. In Lady Gaga: Behind the Fame, Emily Herbert drew comparisons between the underlying theme of the video and the theme of The Fame Monster--the relationship with fame. She wrote, "Was this the price that Gaga had to pay for the fame she so desired? Did she feel as if she'd had to prostitute herself in some way? The themes were all based around sex, decadence, and corruption; alcohol and even cigarettes, twenty-first century society's biggest no-no, were present, and so by implication ... drugs."The Wall Street Journal noted Gaga as one of the few pop stars of the present time who really understood spectacle, fashion, shock, choreography--all the things that Madonna and Michael Jackson were masters of in the 1980s.
The video and its choreography also drew many comparisons to Michael Jackson's Thriller music video, as both feature robotic, zombie-like arm movements and morbid themes. Tim Stack from Entertainment Weekly compared some of the dance choreography of the video with the choreography in "Thriller". Issie Lapowsky of New York Daily News compared the pods in the video with coffins and called the dance "zombie-like"; Gaga "[took] a page from Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video", she said.Los Angeles Times said the video had some "twitchy, 'Thriller'-like dance moves", while The Wall Street Journal compared the shock art of "Bad Romance" with the shock art of Michael Jackson during the 1980s. Evan Sawdey of PopMatters also compared the video with "Thriller", but was not sure whether Gaga was deliberately paying homage to it, or this was "just another excuse for Gaga to wear the mostweirdass outfits ever designed by mankind".
Rolling Stone ranked the song at number nine on its list of the "25 Best Songs of 2009", and on February 13, 2011, the single won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In 2015, Billboard named the song as "The Biggest Hot 100 Hit to Peak at No. 2", describing it as a "modern classic". The review aggregate website Acclaimed Music currently has it listed as the 13th best song of 2009 based upon various year end lists by mainstream critics.
Gaga performing the song during the revamped Monster Ball Tour in a mirrored dress and headpiece (2010)
"Bad Romance" was first performed on Saturday Night Live on October 3, 2009, where Gaga sang a part of it. She wore a complex outfit called "The Orb", designed by Nasir Mazhar and her creative team Haus of Gaga. After finishing her performance of "LoveGame", Gaga sat at her piano and played an acoustic version of the chorus of "Bad Romance". She performed the song on the television show, Gossip Girl, during an episode called "The Last Days of Disco Stick". It took place at a private party arranged by the character Blair Waldorf. In an interview with MTV, Gaga explained that she did not want the performance to be out of tune with the storyline of the show, so she worked with the scriptwriters to incorporate it into the plot. The performance included many ladders symbolizing bad luck, and featured Gaga wearing a 35-foot (11 m) long dress. According to the show's executive producer Stephanie Savage, the song incorporated a few Gossip Girl-specific lyrics. On the show Gaga emerged from two giant doors wearing a large red gown and climbed up a ladder. From there she sang parts of the song as her male dancers danced around the ladder.
"Bad Romance" was performed at the 2009 American Music Awards, where she coupled it with "Speechless" from The Fame Monster. Gaga was dressed in a flesh-colored bodysuit wrapped with white piping and embedded with flashing lights, imitating rib cage and a spine. It started with the singer performing "Bad Romance" and dancing around the stage, ultimately breaking open a glass door with the microphone stand. The song was next performed on The Jay Leno Show, where Gaga wore a pair of black sunglasses and a black jacket with shoulder pads that extended above her head. Her male back-up dancers were dressed in black suits and S&M-inspired headgear. Both "Bad Romance" and "Speechless" were performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on November 25, 2009. Gaga performed "Bad Romance" on the British TV show The X Factor on December 6, 2009, singing inside a 13.12-foot (4.00 m) long bathtub and playing the piano. On January 15, 2010, Gaga performed "Bad Romance" as part of a three-song medley on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She was dressed in a metallic jacket and had spikes in her hair, and she carried a spiked ball dangling from a chain held in her hand. "Bad Romance" was performed as the last song of Gaga's worldwide concert series, The Monster Ball Tour (2009-2011). During the original version of the show, she wore a 1980s-inspired white power suit with exaggerated high shoulders and high-waisted pants, and performed the song while standing in a human-sized gyroscope. On the revamped version of the show, she similarly appeared on stage inside of a gyroscope for "Bad Romance", while wearing a mirrored dress and headpiece.
In July 2010, "Bad Romance" was sung on NBC's Today Show, along with "Alejandro", "Teeth" and her "You and I". In May 2011, Gaga performed the song during Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria. She also performed the track as the opening number on Good Morning America, as a part of their 2011 Summer Concert Series. The singer entered the stage flying on a harness and stretching out her hands towards the audience, as steam billowed from center-stage. Once the song started her dancers removed her white cape to reveal her in red fishnet stockings with black felt pieces, a red leotard and black lace boots.
^"Media Forest - Weekly Charts. Media Forest. January 11, 2010. Retrieved July 2, 2018. Note: Romanian and international positions are rendered together by the number of plays before resulting an overall chart.
^"Media Forest - Weekly Charts. Media Forest. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2018. Note: Select 'Songs - TV'. Romanian and international positions are rendered together by the number of plays before resulting an overall chart.