The video for “Alejandro,” the third song off Lady Gaga’s Fame Monster, directed by fashion photographer Steven Klein, has arrived. Insofar as an almost nine-minute video featuring dozens of buff male dancers doing suggestive things and also a version of the Hora; Lady Gaga dancing provocatively in a bra and underwear the color of clothes that have been worn, but never washed; Gaga wearing a nun’s habit, dancing in a machine-gun bra, and occasionally showing off the red crucifix taped over her vagina — all culminating in an almost NSFW spectacle — can be understated, it is.
As we pointed out when tapping “Alejandro” as a potential song of summer, the song owes a lot to Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” and Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around.” Like those songs, it’s a slightly depressing summer jam, one that belongs to this happy season because it has a beat and the singer sounds like she’s moping around on a tropical island — which is to say, having as bad a time as one can have with a suntan, chaise lounge, and personal butler. But the video for “Alejandro” plays down the summer in the song, stretching it out, slowing it down, and setting it in the midst of a snow storm. The color palette is black and white, with the occasional flash of red, and most of the time Gaga is wearing light eye makeup. She looks washed out, intentionally.
Of course, one should not get the impression this is a glum video extravaganza. Sure, early on Gaga walks in front of a coffin, holding a glittery, bloody heart, but soon enough she simulates sex with a strapping young man on what looks like an old-school hospital bed. Later she chomps on a rosary. If that and every other single thing about this video haven’t reminded you of Madonna yet, Gaga then puts on a hilarious bra with machine-gun nozzles pointing out of it, as if to say, “My cones are bigger!” before finishing up with an extended homage to “Express Yourself.” (Madonna is just one of the influences that pops up in the video. Between Joan of Arc, “Rhythm Nation,” Yo-Landi Visser of Die Antwoord, and many others, this video is to shout-outs what “Telephone” was to product placement.) All in all, “Alejandro” the video has a complex, otherworldly vibe distinct from, and perhaps a bit at odds with, “Alejandro” the song — but since only the former will single-handedly increase sales of red pleather nun habits, we’re not going to complain.