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"Poker Face" is an electropop song by American pop singer-songwriter Lady Gaga from her debut album, The Fame. Produced by RedOne, it was released as the album's second single in late 2008 for some markets and in early 2009 for the rest of the world. The song is an uptempo dance song following in the footsteps of her previous single "Just Dance" but has a darker musical tone. The main idea behind the song is bisexuality and was a tribute by Gaga to her rock 'n' roll boyfriends. Lyrically "Poker Face" is about sex and gambling.

"Poker Face" has been well-received by the critics most of whom have praised the robotic hook and the chorus. The song has attained worldwide success, topping the charts in more than seventeen countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many European countries. "Poker Face" is also the most downloaded song in the British chart history. The accompanying music video for the song portrays Gaga singing it in various costumes and playing strip poker in a mansion.

Gaga performed the song for the eighth season of American Idol and her first headlining Fame Ball Tour. The live performances included an electronic version performed as the last song of the tour, and an acoustic version she played on the piano.

Writing and inspiration

"Poker Face" was written by RedOne and Gaga while the music has been produced by RedOne. Gaga stated in an interview that "Poker Face" was written by her as a pop song and was a tribute to her rock 'n' roll boyfriends. She also stated that the main idea behind the song was sex and gambling. In an interview with UK's Daily Star, Gaga noted of the song, "It's about a lot of different things. I gamble but I’ve also dated a lot of guys who are really into sex and booze and gambling, so I wanted to write a record my boyfriends would like too." In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, when asked about the meaning of the line "bluffin' with my muffin", Gaga explained that it really was a metaphor for her vagina. She explained,
"Obviously, it's my pussy's poker face! I took that line from another song I wrote but never released, called 'Blueberry Kisses.' It was about a girl singing to her boyfriend about how she wants him to go down on her, and I used the lyric. [Gaga sings] 'Blueberry kisses, the muffin man misses them kisses'."
During her Fame Ball Tour performance at Palm Springs, Californiamarker, on April 11, 2009, Gaga explained to the crowd the true meaning behind the term "Poker Face" used in the song. She suggested that the song dealt with her personal experience with bisexuality. The idea behind the song was to be with a man but fantasizing about a woman, hence the man in the song needs to read her "Poker Face" to understand what is going through her mind.

Music structure and composition

"Poker Face" is an uptempo dance-pop song, and follows the footsteps of the previous single "Just Dance". Whereas "Just Dance" was predominately electropop, "Poker Face" carries a dark sound with clear vocals on the chorus and a pop hook while combining the synths from "Just Dance" and the more dance-oriented beat of the next single "LoveGame". According to Kerri Mason of Billboard, the composition "carr[ies] the pleather-and-sequins vibe of the downtown New York scene out of the underground and onto the FM dial without losing its smut and sass." The song is set in common time with a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute and is written in the key of G-sharp minor. Gaga's vocal range spans from F 3 to B4. It begins with a medium tempo followed by electronic chord arrangement and the "Mum-mum-mum-mah" hook. The chords follow in this order, G m—E—F —G m—E—F . This is followed by the sound of dance music, produced by a powerful beat from the instruments and a stuttering hook following the chorus.

Lyrically, "Poker Face" is all about sexual innuendo and teasing. According to Daily Star, the chorus repeats two alternating lyrics. After the hook "Can't read my Poker Face" the backup singer says "He's got me like nobody" and then in the next line says "She's got me like nobody". Gaga explained in an interview with them that the line carries a bit of an undertone of confusion about love and sex. However, the liner notes from the album booklet indicate both these lines only repeat "she's got me like nobody". According to BBC, the "Mum-mum-mum-mah" hook used in the song is sampled from Boney M's 1977 hit "Ma Baker."

Critical reception

Priya Elan from The Times, in a review for The Fame, said that "Poker Face" was one of the finest moments of the album with its "love-as-card-game cheek." BBC reviewed the "strut-tastic" single as "expressing her overwhelming desire for celebrity and fortune." Bill Lamb of About.com said, "'Poker Face' works well on pop radio, but with slight mixing alterations it would be equally at home in a dark, sweaty, late night party atmosphere. She has refreshed the pop world in the US and UK at one of the slowest times of the year. 'Poker Face' keeps the motors humming as everyone waits for the next step forward from Lady Gaga." Chris Williams of Billboard also gave a positive review of the song saying, "Once again, hooks are aplenty, with '80s-inspired synthesizers, robotic verses and a warm, sunny hook in the chorus, which is even more addictive than the previous single ('Just Dance')...With a focused artistic vision, a swagger in her interview style and above all, a fantastic collection of diverse pop nuggets, Gaga is playing her cards right—and "Poker" is another obvious ace."

Slant Magazine music reviewer Sal Cinquemani included "Poker Face" among the songs that work in The Fame, namely tracks like "Starstruck," "Paper Gangsta" and "Summerboy". Matthew Chisling from Allmusic called the song "infectious" and along with the title track "The Fame", complimented them for "rejuvenating the vibe on the album for its second half." Andy Downing from The Chicago Tribune called the song "jaunty" while reviewing Gaga's Fame Ball tour. Evan Sawdey from PopMatters.com felt that "Poker Face" along with the track "Paparazzi", duplicate much of the same "glitzy territory that previous single 'Just Dance' had covered, but never once does it feel like Gaga is deliberately repeating herself." Rolling Stone in a review for The Fame Ball Tour compared the live acoustic "bluesy" version of "Poker Face" with the music of singer Amy Winehouse. Erika Hobert from the New Times Broward-Palm Beach newspaper called the song "trashtastic Europop."

Chart performance

In the United States, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at ninety-two and reached number six on the issue dated March 7, 2009. The next week the song climbed another three places to reach a peak of three and stayed there for two additional weeks. On the Billboard issue dated April 11, 2009, the song topped the chart. "Poker Face" became Gaga's second consecutive number one song on the Hot 100, marking the first time a new artist has had their first two charting singles hit number one on the Hot 100 since Christina Aguilera did so with "Genie In a Bottle" and "What a Girl Wants" in 1999-2000. The song also peaked on both the Hot Dance Airplay and Hot Dance Club Play charts. "Poker Face" became the first single since Madonna's 2006 single "Sorry", to top all the three dance charts in a single week including the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. The song has sold 4,100,000 paid digital downloads in the United States according to Nielsen Soundscan, making Gaga the first artist in digital history to top the 4 million mark in paid downloads with two songs, the first being "Just Dance"and the second best selling digital song of 2009 behind Boom Boom Pow which has sold around 150,000 downloads more than Poker Face. In Canada, the song debuted at number forty-one on the Canadian Hot 100. On the chart dated December 13, 2008, "Poker Face" ascended to the number one spot and then spent nine non-consecutive weeks at the top. The song was certified six times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for paid digital downloads of 240,000.

"Poker Face" entered the Australian charts at number twenty-six, and in its seventh week peaked at number one. "Poker Face" has shipped over 210,000 copies in Australia, earning three-times platinum certification by the Australian Recording Industry Association(ARIA). In New Zealand, "Poker Face" debuted on the RIANZ chart at number twenty-one. In its sixth week, it peaked the chart spending ten consecutive weeks at number one. "Poker Face" was certified two times platinum after twenty-seven weeks on the chart, selling over 30,000 copies according to the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).

"Poker Face" debuted at number thirty on the UK Singles Chart. On the chart issue dated March 22, 2009, "Poker Face" climbed to number one, thus giving Gaga her second consecutive UK number one single. According to The Official Charts Company, "Poker Face" is the most downloaded song in Britain, since the download chart was introduced in 2004. The song has sold 779,000 downloads there. It became the biggest selling digital single in the UK, followed by Gaga's debut single "Just Dance". In Italy the song debuted at number nineteen and peaked at number two. The song has also reached the peak in a number of European countries including Austria, Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The single also peaked on the Billboard Eurochart Hot 100 Singles and was on the top for sixteen weeks making it the longest running single in the chart.

Music video



The music video for "Poker Face", directed by Ray Kay and aided by Anthony Mandler, was filmed at the luxury villa on bwin PokerIsland. bwin also provided the poker equipment and obtained product placements in return.The video premiered on October 22, 2008. It is set by a pool, as well as in a mansion. It begins with Gaga emerging out of the pool wearing a shiny masquerade mask and a black full-body leotard, with two Great Danes beside her (Lava and her son Rumpus). She throws the mask aside and the song begins with a facial shot of Gaga singing it. Gaga wears a metallic sticker on her left cheek in this shot. Featured in the video are scenes of Gaga in a mansion and dancing poolside with her dancers in a turquoise leotard. Gaga attends a wild party where every man and woman tries their luck on a strip poker game. The party gets wilder when all the party's guests strip down to their underwear, dance around, and share kisses with each other. The video also features two harlequin Great Danes and several white mannequins on her swimming pool deck. During the musical interlude before the "I won't tell you that I love you" hook, Gaga is shown in her trademark "Pop Music Will Never Be Low Brow" sunglasses while sitting beside the pool. The video ends with the head shot of Gaga singing the Mum-mum-mum-ma hook.

Gaga explained in the nineteenth episode of her "Transmision Gagavision" series, the main idea behind the music video of "Poker Face". She said that "I knew I wanted it to be sexy, so I thought no pants, because that's sexy, [...]And I knew I wanted it to be futuristic, so I thought shoulder pads, because that's my thing." The music video premiered on MTV UK on February 17, 2009. In some versions of the song, the words "muffin" (being a slang term for the woman's vagina), "Russian Roulette" and "gun" are censored out (bleeped). On June 21, 2009, the video won the Best International Artist Video at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards. The video has received four nominations at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, in the categories of Video of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Female Video and Best Pop Video. Along with five other nominations for "Paparazzi", Gaga is tied with Beyoncé for most nominations each for that year.

Live performances



"Poker Face" has been performed by Gaga at a number of shows including the AOL Sessions, the Cherrytree House of Interscope Records, and also the MTV sessions. The song was performed by Gaga both in the original version and the acoustic piano version in her headlining The Fame Ball tour. She performed the piano version wearing a dress made of plastic transparent bubbles and playing the glass piano with her stilletoes with a glowing mannequin, like the music video, standing in front of the stage. Gaga claimed that the transparent bubble filled piano was specifically made to match her dress. The actual version was performed by Gaga as the final song of the encore, after "Boys, Boys, Boys". She started the performance saying "Some say Lady Gaga is a lie, and they’re right: I am a lie, and every day I kill to make it true." Gaga wore a nude corseted leotard embellished with crystals and an admiral's hat during the performance. The hat as well as the fingerless gloves worn were decorated with the word Gaga on it.

On April 1, 2009, both the acoustic and normal version of "Poker Face" was performed live on Fox's American Idol. The performance started with Gaga sitting at a Plexiglass piano filled with bubbles and bathed in pink light. She started singing the second verse of "Poker Face" in a Bette Midler style accompanied by a violin player while wearing a shiny aluminum shoulder pad and platinum bleached blond wig. After the first chorus, the pace increased whence the original intro for the song started. Gaga got up from her seat and proceeded to perform the song in the middle of the stage. She wore a silvery leotard with a giant star on her shoulder and tassels. As the song progressed to the intermediate verse, the violist played a hoe-down version of the music and Gaga danced around frantically over the stage. The performance ended with Gaga staring towards the audience while revealing an open zipper patched over her left eye. This performance has been described an "alien-disco performance art." Cortney Harding of Billboard wrote, "[it was] Gaga's crowning TV moment ... show[ing] middle America that she was a bona fide pop star." The acoustic version was performed by Gaga at BBC Live & In-Session on April 19, 2009. She also performed "Poker Face" in the United Kingdom on the Paul O'Grady Show. First she played an acoustic version first before going on to the normal version, and a rock version on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. On May 12, 2009, Gaga performed "Poker Face" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show while wearing a gyroscope on her head, designed by theatrical hat designer Nasir Mazhar and playing the piano while standing on the stool. Gaga referred to the gyroscope as her "Gaga barrier". It prevented Ellen DeGeneres from greeting her because of the size of the gear. A remixed version of "Poker Face" and "LoveGame" was performed at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards, during the indoor-outdoor streetside show. This performance, which included Gaga beging trapped in a fake subway car surrounded by fake police officers, was billed as a tribute to New York Citymarker. Snippet of the song was performed by Gaga at the thirty-fifth season of American comedy show Saturday Night Live, while wearing a giant contraption ("The Orbit") of several metallic concentric rings that rotated around her.

Cover versions

Rapper Kid Cudi's single "Make Her Say" contains a vocal sample of the acoustic version of "Poker Face" from The Cherrytree Sessions EP. The song was originally entitled "I Poke Her Face" but was changed to make it more acceptable for radio. It features Kanye West, who also produced the track, and Common, as well as scratches from DJ A-Trak. West expressed that he was a fan of Lady Gaga and was interested in the song, after seeing Gaga perform a different version of "Poker Face" on the internet. This led him to sample "Poker Face" in "Make Her Say". According to West, they changed the intermittent bisexual theme of the song while taking the sample.
"When I saw that YouTube [video], that's what made me fall in love with the song — when I saw her play the acoustic version. I could hear all the melody lines. On the 'Poker Face' single, she sings it straightforward, almost, like, ripping it or chanting it. But this [acoustic version], you hear the Broadway melodies run up and down. I was inspired by that. I wanted to sample it. I thought it was really dope — just on some hip-hop, 'Say when I p-p-poke her face.'"
Gaga herself voiced approval of the track, saying that West "had so much insight into what the song was about." Rocker Chris Daughtry performed an acoustic version of the song while at a radio station in Germany. The song was also featured in the South Park episode titled Whale Whores, sung by series character Eric Cartman. Actor Christopher Walken performed a special a capella rendition of "Poker Face" on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross BBC1 for Halloween 2009.

Track listings

  • UK CD single
  1. "Poker Face" – 3:58
  2. "Poker Face" (Tommy Sparks & The Fury Remix) – 3:57


  • Australian CD single
  1. "Poker Face" (Album Version) – 3:58
  2. "Just Dance" (Robots to Mars Remix) – 4:38


  • French CD single
  1. "Poker Face" (Album Version) – 3:58
  2. "Poker Face" (Glam As You Club Mix by Guéna LG) – 7:51
  3. "Poker Face" (Dave Audé Remix) – 8:12


  • Promo remixes CD single
  1. "Poker Face" (Dave Audé Radio Mix) – 3:53
  2. "Poker Face" (Dave Audé Club Mix) – 8:13
  3. "Poker Face" (Glam As You Club Mix by Guéna LG) – 7:52
  4. "Poker Face" (LGG Vs. GLG Radio Mix) – 4:06
  5. "Poker Face" (LGG Vs. GLG Club Mix) – 6:33


  • iTunes EP
  1. "Poker Face" (Space Cowboy Remix) – 4:54
  2. "Poker Face" (Dave Audé Remix) – 8:13
  3. "Poker Face" (Jody Den Broeder Remix) – 8:05


  • U.S. 'The Remixes' CD single
  1. "Poker Face" (Space Cowboy Remix) – 4:54
  2. "Poker Face" (Dave Audé Remix) – 8:13
  3. "Poker Face" (Jody Den Broeder Remix) – 8:05
  4. "Poker Face" (Album Version) – 4:01
  5. "Poker Face" (Instrumental) – 4:01


  • German CD single (2 track)
  1. "Poker Face" – 3:58
  2. "Just Dance" (Remix with Kardinal Offishall) – 4:18


Charts, certifications and procession

Charts

Charts (2008-2009) Peak

Position
Australian Singles Chart 1
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 1
Belgian Singles Chart (Wallonia) 1
Canadian Hot 100 1
Danish Singles Chart 1
Dutch Top 40 1
European Hot 100 Singles 1
Finnish Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 2
Japan Hot 100 21
New Zealand Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Spanish Singles Chart 2
Swedish Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1


Certifications

Country Certification
(sales thresholds)
Australia 3× Platinum
Austria Gold
Belgium Platinum
Canada 6× Platinum
Denmark 2× Platinum
Finland Platinum
Germany Gold
New Zealand 2× Platinum
Spain Platinum
Sweden 2x Platinum


Chart procession and succession









Release history



References

  1. The Fame (Liner Notes) Interscope Records (2008)


External links



Region
Date
Australia
North America
United Kingdom
Germany
Switzerland
Italy

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