Our journey into Chromatica returns to the desert in Lady Gaga’s new music video for “911,” the third official single off her latest album Chromatica. But this isn’t the extraterrestrial “Stupid Love” desert — as those sweet, sweet “Chromatica II” strings play, Gaga wakes up to white sands as far as the eye can see. And what a way to wake up. The video finds her taken to an adobe house in the desert, where she meets a cast of immaculately clad characters who lip-sync, fly like balloons, and bang their heads against pillows (just like me as I try to interpret this Gaga video). It’s a lushly detailed setup for the song, complete with the costume changes and slow-mo voguing you’d expect from Gaga.
The story takes a turn when Gaga is dropped from her balloon flight, then strapped to a board and taken inside to be murdered — and as she’s stabbed, she wakes up at the scene of a car crash in a whiplash-inducing twist that’ll have you calling 911. As Gaga is shocked back to life and hyperventilates, we see the clues all around and have a moment of Dorothy-waking-up realization: the people around, the New Mexico poster, that wall painting of a car crash, even that bracelet/tourniquet around Gaga’s leg. Her mind.
The video was directed by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, a video of the year winner at the MTV Video Music Awards for R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.” It comes after Gaga’s own showstopping Chromatica medley at the VMAs, which opened with the live debut of “911.” Gaga ended the night with the most awards at four, including the inaugural Tricon Award. Leave it to a Tricon to pull off a twist like that.