Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” Lyrics Meaning
In an attempt to get straight to the point, this is what appears to be going down in Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” song. It utilizes a motif based on the practice of gambling. And “poker face” is terminology derived from said practice, specifically games like poker and the such.
What it fundamentally alludes to is a player appearing one way or another (i.e. putting on a face) in order to confuse and deceive their opponent. But in this case, Lady Gaga is not using a “poker face” against an adversary but rather a male romantic interest.
And within the context of the song, what the poker face represents is her deceiving him into thinking she’s really into him when she isn’t.
And yes, the singer does come off in the bridge as if she seduces guys for their money. She also obviously enjoys “rough… fun”, i.e. possessing a sexually-adventurous nature.
Song’s Core Message
But the message that she is truly trying to put across is that she’s more interested in women. Therefore even while making love to the dude(s) in the song, she’s instead thinking about another lady she would rather be with than the guy.
So this is a classic case of sleeping with one person while fantasizing about someone else, though with an intentionally bisexual twist.
Lady Gaga set out to pen a song that her “rock ‘n’ roll boyfriends”, who are into the likes of drinking, gambling and sensual adventurism, would appreciate. And indeed you can perceive that the singer is really into playing risky bedroom fun games, if you will.
Inspiration for “Poker Face”
Also Lady Gaga derived inspiration for this tune from another, unreleased track she had penned earlier entitled “Blueberry Kisses”. And the lyrics of said song are about oral-based sensual pleasure.
And while we’re on that subject, as revealed in the post-chorus of this song its title is actually a double entendre. So in addition to being read “poker face”, it can also be heard as ‘poke her face’. And that latter understanding in all likelihood would be an allusion to the oral-themed bedroom fun games we mentioned earlier.
So ultimately, the best way of describing this song is perhaps as it being a reflection of the singer’s sex life and her character in general.
When it comes to romance, she lives fast, wild and hard. In fact it can be said that enjoys the thrill of outsmarting male hookups, whom she really isn’t that interested in in the first place. Or put differently, she may use them for money or fun but appreciates female romantic partners more.
Staying true to the theme of the song, its music video was filmed at a location called PokerIsland.
Its director, Ray Kay, was further assisted by Anthony Mandler, a regular video collaborator of Rihanna’s. And Lady Gaga was heavily involved in influencing the visual aesthetic of the clip.
And the visual did go on to impress, winning a 2009 MuchMusic Video Award in the category of Best International Artist Video.
That same year it was also nominated for four MTV VMAs, of which Gaga was awarded the Best New Artist distinction.
When was “Poker Face” released?
This track is from Lady Gaga’s first album, “The Fame”. A product of Interscope Records, the track was released on 26 September 2008.
And the other labels that supported its release are Cherrytree, Streamline and two companies founded by Akon – Konvict Muzik and KonLive Distribution.
In fact it was Akon who was primarily responsible for helping transform Gaga’s profession from that of a songwriter to an actual pop star.
And he was apparently right on the money as she proved to be successful even since her first single, “Just Dance” (2008).
Success of “Poker Face”
And “Poker Face”, being her second release, proved even more triumphant. It is in fact, according to many sources, the best-selling single of the entirety of 2009.
For instance, it accomplished the rare feat of reaching number 1 in over 20 nations. This included topping the Eurochart Hot 100, where it remained on top for 16 weeks.
It also reached the pinnacle of the UK Singles Chart, Billboard Hot 100. It replicated this same feat on three other Billboard charts, namely:
- Dance Club Songs
- Dance/Mix Show Airplay
- Mainstream Top 40
Moreover it went multi-platinum in over 10 countries and even, as of 2020, achieved the elusive Diamond certification from the RIAA. What this means is that it’s sold over 10,000,000 copies stateside alone.
In fact it is one of the best-selling singles in history, having recorded somewhere in the region of 14,000,000 sales as of 2021.
“Poker Face” also earned Lady Gaga three Grammy nominations, of which she took home the Best Dance Recording trophy in 2010.
Did Lady Gaga write “Poker Face”?
Lady Gaga wrote this song herself, doing so with Charlotte Thersen and RedOne. And it was also RedOne, a musician born in Morocco, who produced the track.
It is also worthy to mention that Gaga and RedOne also co-wrote the aforementioned “Just Dance”. And in both cases, RedOne has stated that the songs were done in just “one hour”.
He attributed this to him and Gaga sharing a rapport which produced “magic” in terms of those two particular tunes.
Notable Live Performances
Gaga performed this tune at the 2009 MTV VMAs as well at the aforementioned Grammy ceremony. However, its most notably rendering would be during the Super Bowl Halftime Show itself, which Lady Gaga headlined in 2017.
More Interesting Facts about “Poker Face”
As far as Google is concerned, during 2009 no song was more searched for than this one.
“Poker Face” was actually covered by Christopher Walken, the King of New York himself, in 2009.
It was also rendered by the cast of Glee in 2010, becoming one of the best-selling covers the show ever produced. That version actually reached a peak position of 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It has also been parodied by the likes of the following:
- South Park (2010)
- Weird Al Yankovic (2011)
- The Simpson (2012)
Concerning the aforementioned insinuation of a double entendre in in the chorus, such is actually revealed via the uttering of the phrase “f–k her face”.
Apparently this is something many listeners at first misheard or didn’t hear at all. Rather they thought that Gaga was actually repeating the phrase “poker face”.
However, the cat was let out of the bag when a viral TikTok video enlightened the masses to what was truly being said. This resulted in the lyrics of the song trending, i.e. “Poker Face” becoming the number one most-researched song in early 2021. This is almost 15 years after the track was first released.
And for the record, Lady Gaga reportedly has a habit of concealing lyrics in such clever manners in order to get them pass censors.
The year prior, 2020, also witnessed a phenomenon known as the Poker Face Dance Challenge. And during that year the song itself experienced a massive resurge in popularity.
In 2010 an author associated with The New York Post named Maureen Callahan came out with a book called “Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga”.
This track samples a Boney M. classic known as “Ma Baker” (1977).