Does it contain shirtless men, fascist imagery and odd religious symbolism? It’s a Lady Gaga video — of course it does. (Video is slightly NSFW, unless you work for TIME, apparently.)
At this point, a Lady Gaga video is as much about how many cultural signifiers she can throw in than it is about what any of these references mean. “Alejandro” continues this trend: Watch Gaga dance while men goose-step around her in leather briefs! Watch Gaga dress as a nun and swallow a rosary! Watch Gaga put on pants and imitate Madonna! There’s a self-seriousness to this set of references that gets a little stultifying. (NewsFeed prefers the winking, Tarantino-aping bizarreness of the “Telephone” video.)
The video looks fantastic, though. Washed-out German Expressionism can be a music-video cliche, but the self-conscious ballsiness of Gaga and director Steven Klein works here. And the gun-bra is a fun idea, even if we’ve seen something like it before. NewsFeed will also leave it to others to judge the moral issue of the Nazi aesthetic, and to figure out what the deal is with all the bowl-cuts.
The song itself doesn’t start until more than two minutes in — clearly no one involved considered music to be the most important thing about the “Alejandro” video. It’s five minutes of fairly mediocre synth-pop, memorable mostly for giving Gaga a chance to do a fake Spanish accent. There’s nothing offensive about it — but if Gaga really wants to be the next Madonna, she’s going to need to work on putting out singles as enjoyable to listen to as they are to watch.