I do know that the video "Alejandro" seems to have been filtered through a dark lens from which most of the color and all of the fun has been drained. It's S*E*R*I*O*U*S*N*E*S*S in all caps delivered S*E*R*I*O*U*S*L*Y also in all caps, which of course causes pretension. That is a big problem, especially for someone like Lady GaGa, who seems to have made it her shtick to play with ideas of celebrity and image.
If she's taking herself that seriously, songs like "Bad Romance" and "Paparazzi" and especially "Telephone" don't work. "Alejandro" doesn't work. It's the type of video that the creator of "Telephone" would have deflated. It kind of reminded me of, uh-oh, Miley Cyrus's most recent video; the one where she's a bird (I wrote about it here, and already I can't remember the name of the song).
Even the director seems to have realized something was wrong when he recently tried to explain it.
"The religious symbolism is not meant to denote anything negative, but represents the character's battle between the dark forces of this world and the spiritual salvation of the Soul," Klein wrote. "Thus at the end of the film, she chooses to be a nun, and the reason her mouth and eyes disappear is because she is withdrawing her senses from the world of evil and going inward towards prayer and contemplation."Artists should never, ever explain their work. Life isn't high school and the video for "Alejandro" isn't a long division math question. Put it out there and let it stand on its own. Ms. GaGa and the director, Steven Klein, obviously went to a lot of trouble to make it; none of the images happened by accident.
Klein added that the scene in which Gaga ingests the rosary beads is meant to represent "the desire to take in the holy."
So trust yourself and your vision, and don't trespass all over it; once it's out, your vision of its meaning is no more important or relevant than anyone else's. If they see "blasphemy," (really Katy Perry?) let them.
Here it is:
(By the way -- why do I have to sit through a 15 second commercial to watch what is essentially a nine-minute commercial?)
And here are, off the top of my head, five other videos that I think effortlessly achieve what Ms. GaGa was going for:
Praise You - Fatboy Slim
This is my all-time favorite music video. The choreography is outstanding, pure fun and yet delivered with apparent seriousness and dedication. The grainy video quality and the guerrilla style in which the performers are working gives it an unsteady, edgy, almost dangerous feel. In a way, it's kind of unsettling, which only adds to the fun. Seriously, who is that "dance troupe"? I suppose one could check the wikipedia entry about the video, but the mystery is part of the fun.
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Little Richard
Little Richard didn't do much -- just almost single-handedly created the genre "rock and roll." He was one of the most dynamic performers of all time, and anything with him is fascinating to watch, even today, when the crazy seems to have taken over. Watch this clip from the closing of a television show called "Shindig" and see how easy he made it look. Intense, fun, exciting, and history-making. You hardly even notice the credits running over part of the performance. And he wore a nice suit, not a conical bra with guns on it (how many comic books have I seen use that same image?).
Rehab - La Pequeña Amy Winehouse
Not an "official" music video, but better than "Alejandro." A little person dancing around in her bedroom, or someone's bedroom, occasionally singing along to the song playing in the background. Who is that person? Who is holding the camera? Why "Rehab"? What unsettling thing are these people trying to do and what happens when the camera isn't rolling?
"La Pequeña" appeared as other performers, including Hillary Clinton and Britney Spears, but Amy Winehouse was my favorite because, well, I could kind of imagine Ms. Winehouse ingesting something that would cause her body to shrink down to that.
Twilight Zone - Golden Earring
A brilliant song with a brilliant video that achieves a sort of hallucinogenic Kafkaesque tragic quality, raising questions about itself, and the nature of reality. Who are the men with the valise full of cards? Why is the guy singing on stage at the end? What happened to him? Even now I wonder about these things -- I can barely remember anything about the video for "Alejandro."
White Wedding - Billy Idol
(Click here to go to YouTube to watch it -- some boner disabled the embed for this one.)
Casually "blasphemous," but even more than that, iconoclastic. The song itself is like a challenge, delivered with snarl ("Hey little sister, what have you done?"). The image of the wedding band cutting the bride's finger, drawing blood, is more pregnant with meaning than anything in "Alejandro." The nails into the coffin, the dancing in the kitchen with the appliances failing -- this is a serious commentary on domesticity and the expectations, or burdens, that society places on women. The idea of a wedding being an opportunity for the woman to "start again" is something we all take for granted. This song, and the video, throw that back in our faces.
Aside: to heck with whoever disabled the embed.
Billy Idol White Wedding pic source.