Lady Gaga's video for her second Born This Way single "Judas" leaked this morning, a few hours before its official debuts on E! (saucy uncensored version) and American Idol (chaste tween version). Since there isn't anything truly sexy, blasphemous, or gory in the five-and-a-half minute clip, we're going to have to assume it's the latter cut -- so far, this ain't the scandal Gaga was chasing.
True to its name, "Judas" is a play on religious love and betrayal recast as West Side Story meets The Wild Ones meets The Passion of the Christ. Gaga is a biker babe riding with a Latino Jesus sporting a golden crown of thorns. She's a Victorian Joker in fantastic eyeliner and glamazon nails. And, for a brief second, she's flogged like Jesus, herself. (Come on, you saw that coming, right?) The Biblical imagery arrives in flashes -- members of a biker gang are named after the apostles; Gaga dons a blue veil like Mary (Magdalene or the Blessed, who knows?); she washes Jesus' feet; Judas, who's played by actor Norman Reedus, kisses Jesus.
Though she's obviously playing with central tropes of Christianity, Gaga claims the video is not meant to be interpreted as "a religious statement." "I view it as social statement. I view it as a cultural statement," she told E!. Gaga codirected the clip with her frequent collaborator and dance guru Laurieann Gibson.
The overall aesthetic is broody and dark, befitting the track's disco-grime vibe, but the backdrops look more like summer stock sets than the results of a $10 million budget. (Where did the money go? Was there a $3 million line item for leather?) The choreography on the chorus is suspiciously arm-heavy, like the Haus of Gaga has been watching recent Britney Spears videos, but Gaga gives a strong, determined performance overall. When you compare "Judas" to some of the star's other epic videos though, "Judas" doesn't compare. Even on the religious-outrage scale, "Judas" is a lightweight considering Gaga swallowed a rosary in her clip for "Alejandro."
• Best Gag: Gaga drags a gun with lipstick jammed in its barrel across a terrified Judas' face.
• Best Use of Obvious Imagery: Gaga drowning in a sea of confusion (a.k.a. a giant wave).
• Most Potentially Offensive Moment: What we'll refer to as "an unusual baptism."
We anxiously await the chance to be shocked and appalled by the uncensored clip when it premieres later tonight -- stay tuned!