An Inside Peek to the Magic of Lady Gaga’s “Applause” Video with Jahved Crockett
With the re-release of Lady Gaga’s Art Pop album, Jahved Crockett talks about his experience working on the video for the debut track “Applause.” As a video director, editor, and art director, he’s attained a respected status in the industry working on major campaigns for instantly recognizable names like Valentino, Timberland, and others. His international success has transported him around the planet, living and working in Melbourne, Hong Kong, London, and Milan. His skillset has allowed him the kind of flexibility most only dream of. One need look no further than the project which initially propelled him into the sights of the industry; Lady Gaga’s “Applause” video to understand why. In a time when nearly every music artist has some type of promotional video for their song, only a few like Gaga really attain the level of “tip of the spear” art in theirs. Working with Jo Ratcliffe on the art direction of the “Applause” video, Crockett was just embarking on his professional career.
For Jahved, “Applause” was the project that pushed him into the spotlight with many in the industry. The song and video was showered with numerous awards including the World Music Award for World’s Best Song & World’s Best Video, Billboard Music Award for Top Dance/Electronic Song, the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video, YouTube Music Awards Video of the Year, and a slew of others.
Dutch fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin directed “Applause.” Jahved recalls the hand drawn brief which they sent being less of a common one and more like a scrap book full of “amazing fashion references, drawings, and stuck in photographs.” He considered it an education in film and design history, relating, “There were references to the German iconic film Metropolis and the German expressionist violent horror film Dr. Caligari. The cage scenes were reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s depiction of Marilyn Monroe. The winged scenes where Gaga is flying relate to the myth of Icarus. The video was also full of amazing fashion references. The green jacket is a McQueen outfit and the scene of her walking in the laser tunnel is lifted from John Galliano’s fall 2009 show. I had to brush up a lot on my knowledge of historical films and fashion moments to understand their brief and references.”
One of the most unusual and interesting accessories in the video was a direct request from Lady Gaga herself. When she requested an appendage that communicated “Disco Cowboy”, Jahved scratched his head and mocked up a horse tail in Illustrator; augmented by lens flare effects to manifest a fun kitschy LED posterior accessory. This was immediately and enthusiastically approved by Gaga. One secret of “Applause” is that one particular contribution of the team will never be seen in “Applause.” Referenced by the Lumière Brothers, a Serpentine dance (see below)
with hand painted color applied to Gaga’s dress was cut. Not every artistic concept made it to the final cut.
While many aspire to long form productions, Jahved Crockett is a loyal fan and contributor to the shorter based ones. He professes, “Regarding artist creating film, I think the art form absolutely reacts to current times and issues. Artist help tell the stories of our times and in the most relevant formats. I think one of those most relevant formats now is video. Video can translate so much information in such a short amount of time and with technology it is so easily shareable. In the next year I am trying to create a series of short documentaries highlighting the plight of queer indigenous people in rural Australia. This is a dream project that hopefully becomes reality in the next year!”