By Katie Gaydos
Swapping diamond dripping lingerie (a la “Bad Romance”) for nude-colored underwear and trading faux-Technicolor (a la “Telephone”) for black and white, the new music video “Alejandro” goes where no Gaga video has gone before. For that alone I’ll applaud it. But where’s the over-the-top burlesque, borderline grotesque fashion sensibility we’ve come to know and love?
Under the direction of fashion photographer Steven Klein (who’s worked with Madonna in the past), the visual aesthetic of “Alejandro” seems slightly toned down compared to Lady Gaga’s previous videos. As the camera scans Gaga holding a vintage calabash pipe, wearing a black Elizabethan ruff, steampunk goggles, and a heart shaped crown, it’s apparent that fashion plays a big role in “Alejandro.” Yet Gaga’s neo-Victorian look, while complimenting the video’s bleak, post-industrial vibe, is undeniably less exciting and less fun than the diamond studded Alexander McQueen stilettos and smoldering cigarette sunglasses we’ve seen before. Even the featured red leather nun habit and cross-on-crotch catholic tunic, while controversial, lack imagination.
In addition to the fashion letdown, the video as a whole doesn’t make much sense. The allusion to Madonna’s music video “Express Yourself” along with the Madonna-esque dance scene, complete with black pantsuit and rifle reinvention of Madge’s iconic cone bra, prove to be both visually and choreographically stunning. Unfortunately it’s not clear what channeling Madonna has to do with the video’s preoccupation with homosexuality in a catholic context. Gaga seems more infatuated with Madge than she does with Alejandro. Speaking of Alejandro, where is he anyway? Is he one of the many shirtless soldiers sporting bowl haircuts? Or is he the straight-faced man sporting a leather suit and cop hat at the end of the video?
Regardless of its disjointed plot, “Alejandro” does have its sparkling moments. Let’s not forget (like we could even if we wanted to) the highly erotic bed scene where Gaga writhes, grinds and rides her entourage of high-heel clad men. Our “Queen of Spectacle” certainly knows how to command a camera!
At the end of the day there’s no question Gaga outshines her fellow pop star peers in terms of creative music videos. After all, who else could rock skin-tone underwear with minimal eye make-up? Sadly, despite all the hype leading up to it’s highly anticipated release, “Alejandro” doesn’t quite trump Lady Gaga’s previous videos. The question still remains then: what will it take to outdo herself?