A standout among 2010’s Most Irresistible Lyrics for its negative hook about the perverse turns that love can take, “Bad Romance,” the lead single from 2009’s “The Fame Monster,” summons the synth-driven polished pop of “Vogue”-era Madonna, as well as Lady Gaga‘s own unique sonic fingerprint. Witness the rave-friendly dance-floor beats, house and techno flourishes, the sing-along chorus that wallows in the stupid-brilliant kitsch of nonsense words, and the complicated view of consensual romance, one that’s as twisted and changeable as the many structural switches in the song. “I want your horror, I want your design / ‘Cause you’re a criminal as long as you’re mine … I want your Psycho, your Vertigo schtick / Want you in my Rear Window, baby, you’re sick,” warbles Lady Gaga, referencing Alfred Hitchcock shock and awe in cinematic free-association.
Deep in the mix, she shrieks, “I’m a freak, baby!” — just daring Gaga groupies to keep their poker face on straight. In the video, the artist’s anime-eye contacts, Alexander McQueen armadillo stilettos (she premiered “Bad Romance” at McQueen’s spring-summer 2010 show), and charred post-coital finale bolster the freakiness. The inexorably driving beat almost makes the listener forget exactly what the song — Gaga’s second-biggest single after “Poker Face” and one of the best-selling singles of all time — is about: namely, as Gaga told Grazia magazine, being in love with one’s best friend. Leave it to Stefani Germanotta (who says she coped with being called both “the Germ” and “Big Boobs McGee” in high school) to tackle a love song in her very own way: the Hitchcock comes in, she told Alexa Chung, because “I want the deepest, darkest, sickest parts of you that you’re afraid to share with anyone because I love you that much.”