HRH Lady Gaga has released yet another single from her album The Fame/Monster, and what does that mean? That’s right – a new video! While the glorious technicolour Telephone video that was more like a mini-movie featured hundreds of outfit-changes and saw Gaga push boundaries in so many ways, the clip for Alejandro couldn’t be more different. The colours rarely shift away from greyscale with accents of red and blue, and there is a terribly retro feel to the whole thing. First and foremost is the almost coldblooded Nazi inspirations that seem to have been behind Gaga’s latest visual feast. It kind of makes sense, given the horror/Gothic theme of the Monster version of her first album; think the lyrics calling for sadistic love in Bad Romance, animalistic desire in song Monster, brutal and disturbed obsession in Teeth. Even Telephone for all its bright colours had a bloodbath and incarceration.
The Nazi theme is worked in to interesting, though no less unsettling, effect. There is the camp (read, twisted?) edge that the sleeping officer in fishnets and heels at the beginning evokes. A very early-on dance routine by athletic young men features what seem to be torture instruments in a shape similar to the star of David in a cubist, minimalist space. When Gaga presides as if from a podium or watchtower as nearly naked men with uniform, (partly) shaved haircuts perform a goosestepping-and-press-ups show, it’s almost like a camp guard or the dictator presiding over a regimented routine. But most of all are the all-leather outfits the male dancers were kitted out in by Emporio Armani, with spiky glasses/headpieces by A-Morir by Kerin Rose; as for Lady Gee’s machine-gun bra top, are there even words to describe?
The highly sexualised scene on the beds clearly evokes some kind of concentration camp barrack – the beds are uniformly spartan, and the dancers with their round heads, white skin and Gaga’s arm tattoo give one disturbing recollections of the bareboned huddling bodies of WW2 photos. The nude Calvin Klein underwear she wears make her look just that, while her bleached eyebrows and shaved temples are fantasticly weird beauty touches that make her appear almost skeletal, not helped by those visible wee ribs of hers. All this is set off against men in heels, leashs and some totally provocative dance moves, as well as her Louboutin Titanium Stiletto Heels and Agent Provocateur Seam & Heel Stockings, to make it all very S&M, with a British twist in that spiky policeman hat by Mouton Collet. Genuinely she’s done well to maintain the shock factor in S&M that can nowadays be so contrived – Rihanna, Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera’s recent efforts simply pale in comparison.
Madonna is written all over this video as much as those naughty Germans. The shot of her in the cape is such an old school way to shoot videos with the camera panning in from afar and the studio setting, and Gagas smoky eye/metallic makeup and slicked back hair matches that. Did it take Glee’s recent extravaganza to remind people of Madonna’s Vogue effort? Who knows, but the influence is very obviously there in the scene where Gaga dances in black tux-inspired combo of vest by D&G and high-wasited trousers by Francesco Scognamiglio, with the Nazis in leather joining in. There’s also a Like A Prayer references in all those religious themes – Gaga as a reclining nun who swallows her rosary beads, wearing a red leather habit by Atsuko Kudo; later she rips off priestly robes (custom made by Jaiden rVa James) to offer herself as virgin sacrifice to the writhing young men in monk hairdos.
We love the steam punk twist in the scene with Gaga as fly-like queen of darkness overlooking the dancers, in her binocular crown by Nasir Mazhar and cloak by none other than Alexander McQueen. The late genius also haunted the shoot in the lace headpice of the funeral scene. Victorian-inspired twist that adds yet another layer of retro imagery to a very Gothic video. The rock star look at the end is dramatic in a smoke-machine 80s way; Gaga wears a Hussein Chalayan “Perfecto” jacket, black “Night Makers” by Noritaka Tatehana, lace panties from Rigby & Peller and bona fide 80s creation, vintage Versace Mod. 789 shades. The scene looked to be some kind of sick Nazi caberet with officers lounging in the foreground and sinister scaffolds behind. All in all, though the song isn’t my favourite, she’s pulled it out of the bag here; all a good video needs really is a coherent look, good dance moves and a bit of controversy for good measure. Wonder if anyone will get offended?