After [artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist] toned things down for her "Edge of Glory" video, she returned to her usual decadent self for the "Yoü and I" clip, a candy-colored sci-fi love story, in which Gaga takes on many shapes (mermaid, sprite, man) and lovers (mad scientist, Jo Calderone) to end up with her version of a fairy-tale ending.
The video — which makes its TV premiere tonight at 7:49 p.m. ET/PT on MTV and Logo, followed by a live Q&A with Gaga on MTV.com — is a nonstop feast for the eyes that recalls many of pop culture's greatest tales. Part creepy and part romantic, the Laurieann Gibson-directed video is a fable about what happens when someone tries to create the perfect lover. Can one ever settle on what they are looking for in that special someone, be they fallen angel or mermaid? It's also about learning to accept the many sides of oneself.
Gaga wears many looks, plays many parts and has a few memorable dance sequences, but fans will also be watching the clip to see what pop-culture milestones are referenced in the video. So here it goes: the "Yoü And I" pop-culture cheat sheet.
Chinese Water Torture Cell: The act was made famous by Harry Houdini. During the stunt, the famed magician would be trapped inside a case filled with water and had to escape before it was too late. A similar stunt is played out in the 2006 Christopher Nolan-directed film "The Prestige," starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians. In the video, Gaga is seen submerged in a tank filled with water in her lover scientist's barnyard lab.
Drag Kings: Female performance artists who dress up like men, typically personified by male stereotypes. In this video, Gaga's Jo Calderone recalls Gwyneth Paltrow's James Dean in Kevyn Aucoin's 2001 book "Face Forward."
"Edward Scissorhands": The 1991 Tim Burton-directed film starring Johnny Depp about a man created by a mad scientist to be the child he never had. In the video, Gaga's lover tries to create a love to call his own.
"Footloose": Gaga and her ladies throw a dance break of epic proportions in a barn — a play right out of the 1984 Kevin Bacon-starring film about a teen who gets a small town dancing again.
Greasers: From Jo Calderone's slicked-back hair to his jeans to his white T-shirt, he is the spitting image of greaser culture made famous in '50s-set flicks like 1983's "The Outsiders" (based on S. E. Hinton's 1965 novel), 1978's "Grease" and 1990's "Cry-Baby" (another Johnny Depp flick, FYI).
"Nip/Tuck": The dark FX series created by "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy premiered in 2003 before ending in 2010. It revolves around people obsessed with plastic surgery, and the video's scientist seems obsessed with performing procedures on Gaga.
"North by Northwest": In the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, the film's leading man, Cary Grant, finds himself alone in the middle of nowhere standing at a crossroads. It is an image reminiscent of the opening of the video, when Gaga stands at a crossroads among the cornfields.
"Pygmalion": The 1912 play written by George Bernard Shaw based on a Greek myth. In Bernard's play, Henry Higgins works to transform the lower-class Eliza Doolittle into a more refined person. It was famously made into a film in 1964 starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison called "My Fair Lady." In the video, Gaga's scientist lover works to transform her into his dream creature.
"Signs": Crop circles, like the one Gaga plays her piano in, play a big part in the 2002 M. Night Shyamalan film, in which Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin and Rory Culkin try to fend off aliens that have descended on Earth.
Steampunk: A sci-fi subculture that offers a romanticized view of technology by making it retro. It is widely regarded that late-19th-century authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are the forefathers, taking then-modern technology and setting it in the steam age, a vibe mirrored in the barnyard lab.
"Splash": Much like the scientist/mermaid tale in the video, the 1984 Ron Howard-directed flick is about a man, played by Tom Hanks, who falls in love with a mermaid, Daryl Hannah, who saved him from drowning as a kid.
"The Little Mermaid": In 1837, Hans Christian Andersen published the story of a young mermaid who dreamed of life as a human and would do anything it takes to lose her tail and gain feet. Although the story has been retold many times, the popular 1989 animated Disney flick stands as a childhood favorite. Gaga's mermaid also loses her tail and gains legs.
"True Blood": There are many creatures who live in the "True Blood" realm of fantasy, including fairies who live in a dimension known as Faery and enjoy nature and dancing — much like Gaga and her dancing troupe in the cornfield.
What pop-culture references did you spot in the video? Tell us in the comments below!
Don't miss the television premiere of the "Yoü and I" video during "MTV First: Lady Gaga," Thursday night at 7:49 p.m. ET on MTV and Logo, followed by a live Q&A with Gaga and her fans on MTV.com. Tweet your questions for the Mother Monster with the hashtag #MTVGaga.