Lady Gaga rose to fame with her smash debut album The Fame. Released in 2009, Gaga’s The Fame spawned plenty of hit singles such as “Just Dance” and “Paparazzi”. In addition, it also cemented Gaga as an icon — from her wild, disco glam outfits to her liberating and commanding lyrics.
But arguably, one of the most memorable cuts from the album (and a staple song in her career) is the second single from The Fame, “Poker Face”. The infectious synth-pop song placed high on the global charts and did significantly better than the first single from her debut album. It was the best-selling single of 2009, with over 9.5 million copies sold worldwide in just that year.
But looking back at it now, did we really understand what Gaga was singing in “Poker Face”?
2009’s top single was written by Gaga herself with the help of Moroccan-Swedish producer RedOne. Allegedly, the lyrics allude to Gaga’s bisexuality and past sexual experiences. Throughout the song, Gaga uses poker and gambling terms as risqué metaphors while she sings about playing against her lover. With lyrics such as, “I won’t tell you that I love you, kiss or hug you / ‘Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin / I’m not lying, I’m just stunnin’ with my love-glue-gunnin’ / Just like a chick in the casino / Take your bank before I pay you out / I promise this, promise this / Check this hand ’cause I’m marvellous”, one could read between the lines and figure out that this song is about sex.
This is a far cry from the title of the song, which is an essential concept one should learn if they want to win at poker, along with bluffing and folding. During a slowed-down performance of the song in London back in 2013, Gaga reveals that, “You know this song is actually about when I was making love to this guy that I was dating a long time ago,” adding, “I was thinking about chicks every time we had sex.” she continues, “and I just didn’t want him to figure it out because I felt so bad. But I don’t anymore because I wrote a song about it.”
Recently, the song has become a viral sensation on social media, more than 13 years after the song debuted. This is because some listeners found out that Gaga was singing, “Po-po-po-poker face, fu-fu-f*** her face (Mum-mum-mum-mah)” instead of “Po-po-po-poker face, po-po-po-poker face (Mum-mum-mum-mah)”. Maybe at the time, Gaga thought that singing such explicit lyrics for her single was too much for the general public and decided to go with something that was a little more clever and understated.
Despite the revelation, “Poker Face” remains to be one of Gaga’s most recognisable and well-loved songs. The song has effectively lit a spark in millions of little monsters and influenced many artists that have come after her. For more news on Gaga’s recent endeavours, check out our review of her latest pop album, Chromatica.