"Telephone" (CD Single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"Telephone" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Mediocre but mostly OK song with controversial video.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 86 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

The song's general message -- that a girl's not going to let a guy ruin her good time -- is positive enough, but the message is overshadowed by the massive exposure of the super explicit (and disturbing) video.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Beyonce generally keeps her lyrics and image a bit cleaner than Lady Gaga; that said, the extreme nature of this video doesn't paint either of the singers in a positive light. 

Violence

There's no discussion of violence in the song lyrics, though the video features a mass-murder scene in which an entire diner full of people are poisoned to death. 

Sex

No talk of sex in the song, but the video includes lots of sexual content -- showing Lady Gaga making out with a girl, dancing provocatively, and wearing very little clothing (in one scene, she's draped in nothing but yellow police-tape).

Language

Nothing in the track itself; Gaga uses the f-word in the video.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The song lyrics talk about "sippin' that bub," while the music video features Lady Gaga wearing glasses that are adorned with dozens of cigarettes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this song doesn't include a lot of adult content beyond a couple references to drinking, the accompanying video is absolutely off-limits for kids -- featuring barely-there costumes, sex scenes, profanity, substance use, and intense violence.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjlai559 March 21, 2010

Catchy and highly danceable song

I think this review is blinded by its infamous music video. If this were a review for said video, I wold agree 100%: it is not appropiate for those under 17. Ho... Continue reading
Adult Written byAbigail1975000 July 14, 2012

The Song, not the video Common Sense FAILED

There is nothing bad about the song other than light alcohol references I can not text you with a drink in my hand, eh? & sipping that bubb
Teen, 16 years old Written byrebma97 March 17, 2014

Repetitive but catchy

I've got some mixed feelings on this song. The repetitiveness gets annoying at times, as does the sound effects of the telephone, but at the same time it... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCooltiger37 August 23, 2018

Catchy Lady Gaga song is fine for kids; avoid graphic video

For the record, I haven't actually seen the video (which is probably a good thing), but I've read about it, and yes, I do agree that it's NOT for... Continue reading

What's the story?

TELEPHONE is the latest single off The Fame: Monster, Lady Gaga's most recent album. Featuring guest vocals from another mega-huge singing star, Beyonce, the song itself is pretty tame -- describing a girl who doesn't want to be bothered by phone calls from a guy while she's having a good time dancing at a club. Aside from a couple references to drinking champagne, the tune is free of explicit content; however, the new video for the song is another matter entirely. You name the mature content, the video has it: sex (two female prison inmates make out, lots of extremely skimpy costumes), violence (dozens of diner patrons are mass murdered by poison), substance use (Gaga wears sunglasses adorned with dozens of lit cigarettes), and more. It even features Gaga and Beyonce driving around in the same yellow truck (which sports the words "P---y Wagon" on the outside) that Uma Thurman drove in the exceptionally violent movie Kill Bill. Absolutely nothing about this video is OK for kids.

Is it any good?

From a purely musical perspective, "Telephone" is a four on the 1-10 scale of Lady Gaga's music. It follows Gaga's typical formula: a danceable pop hook backed by her respectably strong vocals. Even with the addition of Beyonce's killer pipes, though, the track doesn't stand out against the growing list of Gaga's similar-sounding songs. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Lady Gaga would make such a shocking video for a song that's fairly tame. What might have motivated Lady Gaga to produce the video? Does she cross the line between creativity and just plain nonsense?

  • Though Beyonce's music and image have an implied sexuality, they're nowhere near as extreme as Lady Gaga's. Is Beyonce hurting her career by appearing in such an extreme video and associating herself with Lady Gaga?

Music details

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