Lady Gaga debuts 'Judas' video: Watch it here

So that motorcycle-themed cover art for Born This Way wasn’t just a put-on, after all.

After much pre-release controversy—including charges by Bill Donohue’s Catholic League and various Latino activist groups that it’s anti-Catholic—Lady Gaga released her hog-heavy video for ‘Judas.’ Or rather, it leaked, since it had been set to debut tonight at 7pm.

To be honest, it’s hard to imagine how exactly this would offend Christians. Sure, the clip presents a motorcycle-gang retelling of Jesus’ betrayal at the hands of the most reviled, though perhaps most important, disciple. But no less than St. Francis of Assisi inaugurated the idea of setting Nativities and passion plays in local, non-Middle Eastern settings.

Okay, maybe having a biker stud don a crown of thorns is problematic. But to me, the only real sin here is Laurieann Gibson’s “Simon Says” choreography. Take a look at the video after the jump and tell us what you think.

I have to say, my kneejerk reaction was negative. “Judas” seemed like her weakest video to date. But on further reflection, I suspect that was due to Gibson’s admittedly awful hand-waving-as-choreography and the fact that the narrative Gaga follows is her most literal to date. Part of the fun of previous efforts, like “Telephone” or “Born This Way,” has been the disconnect between the song lyrics and the images. The result was a kind of audio-video collage, and a slap in the face to viewers demanding concrete meanings and easy answers.

Now that I’ve watched it a few times, “Judas” has really grown on me.  In her Twitter-fueled build-up to its release today, Gaga described the video as a “Motorcycle Fellini PopArt FantasyFilm.” Like a (later) Fellini film, I’m not entirely certain if the decadence on display is indicative of thoughtfulness or camp.

I do think you can read “Judas” as a serious-minded inquiry into the nature of good and evil, highlighting the traitor’s important role in Christianity.  If Judas had never betrayed Jesus, He wouldn’t have been killed. If He had never been killed, He could never have been resurrected. If He had never been resurrected, He couldn’t have proven His promise of eternal life. Or according to our Lady of Perpetual Gaga herself, Judas is the “Darkness cast when standing in The Light.”

In a sense, you could see “Judas” as her Last Temptation of Christ, a deeply misunderstood but devout examination of the Gospels that doesn’t register with those looking merely for dogma. Especially considering it’s highly sexualized embrace of bad-girl-gone-good Mary Magdalene’s dual role as reformed prostitute and tainted convert. When Gaga-as-Magdalene washes Jesus’ feet, it’s a pious act, sure, but, with those dagger like nails protruding from her fingers, it’s sensual too. Images of Willem Dafoe’s Jesus having sex with Barbara Hershey’s Magdalene in The Last Temptation of Christ—meant to show what Jesus was sacrificing in order to fulfill divine prophecy and die on the cross—rankled fundamentalists, and “Judas” might very well too.

I don’t think she’s just trying to provoke, though. Gone is the playfulness of her earlier videos. When she emerged from the swimming pool in “Poker Face,” clad in black latex, face obscured by a disco-ball mask, she was pop’s Creature from the Black Lagoon. Now, her dip in the surf in “Judas” seems a baptism.

On the other hand, Judas is occupying a bath with both Magdalene and Jesus, which admittedly favors the view of Doubting Thomases that this is nothing but camp and provocation. You could say that Gaga reduces Christian theology to nothing more than a torrid love triangle. “Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to,” she sings. So Jesus is the nice boy she feels comfortable with, who treats her nicely and saves her from being stoned, and Judas is the bad boy, hot as hellfire, but capable of betraying her with a kiss.  To add further kindling to her heretic’s pyre, that Lynchian gun/lipstick prop she brandishes at Judas as a come-on and a threat seems disappointingly obvious.

But despite those qualms, I am inclined to take “Judas” seriously. How refreshing that for her directing debut she chose to express such a personal perspective on her faith. She still embraces an unapologetically Catholic worldview of good and evil, even if she acknowledges that one cannot exist without the other. Call it the Book of Gaga.

Read more from EW.com:

Lady Gaga on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show': ‘I live halfway between fantasy and reality all times’
Lady Gaga calls Madonna comparisons ‘completely ridiculous’ in NME interview
Lady Gaga vs. Weird Al: The road to the release of his parody of ‘Born This Way’
Lady Gaga reveals cover art for ‘Born This Way’ album: Do you like Gaga as a machine?
Lady Gaga blasted by Latino groups for portraying Mary Magdalene in ‘Judas’ video
Lady Gaga confronts Christian anti-gay protester; announces release date of ‘Judas’ single
Lady Gaga reveals she’s directing her next video, talks Rebecca Black, and more in fan-generated Q&A taped at Google HQ

Comments (243 total) Add your comment
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  • Tiffany

    Visually, I think it is stunning. I love the song, very catchy! The ah-ah-ahaha melody is beautiful.

    • Mike

      It says a lot about Gaga that her videos are more hyped than her songs, but that was still nothing special.

      • Marian Rivera Asia’s Primetime Queen

        Another bland product from a waning flash-in-the-pan unoriginal artist.

      • xx100

        I agree not to mention this video supposedly cost 10 million dollars to make. Money thrown out the window. To me it’s still blasphemous also.

      • 2 out of 5*

        HER WORST SONG & VIDEO TO DATE!!!

        *Bye Gurl* :(

      • Next

        WTF..is this a MAD TV comedy parody?

      • Queen of Hype

        spent $10 million for this mediocre garbage?! Hmnnnn

      • U Not Alone

        “I have to say, my kneejerk reaction was negative. “Judas” seemed like her weakest video to date”

        ———————-

        WELL_SAID ! 8)

      • Barney

        I love the universals studios tour.

      • MADONNASUCKS

        You bastards know no talent MADONNA SUCKS, she is changing her religion back because she made a mockery of herself with her botox and ugly gap teeth. GAGA TONIGHT!!

      • Queen Madge

        @MADONNARULES Nobody wants to see Lady Ugly cry crocodile tears tonight. She’s utter trash! Madonna still sits comfortably on her throne, as always. Judas is complete rubbish.

      • Fasha Donia

        I’m so tired of music for space aliens! Real music needs to come back! This chick is wearing thin.

        Over exposed, and underwhelming!

        Next..!

      • Bisexual Biker says

        ..when she is going to get her 1st Number One album on Billboard 200 ?

        *Vroommmmmmmmmm…off I go*

      • Come on, seriously?

        I think it’s hilarious how all the Superduperfans—or Monsters or whatever they call themselves—are squeezing their eyes SOOOOO tight because that effort will somehow magically transform a mediocre song at best into a massive hit**. Really, what’s likely to happen is that you’ll fart. **UPDATE: The song flopped. Darn—I really had hopes for it! (said as sincerely as possible.)

    • jessiej

      Great video, not many pop stars rock the motocycle thing these days.

      • Flip

        I’ve never read the Bible so I had no idea this was a retelling of the betrayal of Jesus. I still don’t get it.

      • Judas Flops

        Thanks Gaga, you make Madonna’s Like A Prayer looks like an epic !

      • JJay

        Rubbish!

        2/10

      • The Mayan Queen

        The classic example of ‘the harder you try, the harder you fall’ !

        Take a rest, Gaga!

      • Like A Prayer- comedy version

        Saw it and all I can say was “Oh oh! somebody is running out of ideas!”

      • R I P

        “Judas” Video Highlights Copycat Lady Gaga’s Irrelevance

    • Bluto

      I don’t get how anyone who likes Lady Gaga would like this song. Poker Face? Brilliant. Telephone? Stunning. Judas? Wretched. Thank God it’s already falling off the charts and we can proceed to the next single.

      • Wendy

        I love this song. I REALLY like the melody in between the “king with no crown” parts.

      • JackieB

        I agree Bluto, and everyone knows me as that crazy Lady Gaga fan. This song is all over the place, it has no center. She’s trying too much all at once.

      • Madonna Queen of Pop

        Sorry Gaga, nothing beats the epic-ness of Maddie’s Like A Prayer!

        :(

      • Razor

        The song is horrible compared to the other stuff she’s released. And the whole “look at me I did this in three minutes on Microsoft Word” attitude needs to go away. We’d rather you put out something really good that you took your time on, Gaga. Make us wait next time. It’s okay.

      • Anya

        I usually love her but I hate this song. It just really annoys me. It’s like she made her voice as annoying as possible then released it as a single to say “look, I can sound terrible and STILL have a hit!” I can’t wait for her new album so I have some good new Gaga songs to listen too because this one doesn’t cut it.

    • Xx

      AGREED! very catchy song and the video is visually stunning but it was very traditional for Gaga

      • SaraJeanQueen

        I actually really like it. She looks very beautiful and the images in the last half of the video are stunning.

      • Anya

        I agree it’s a visual stunner, and she really looked so pretty in some of the shots, and some of the shots were really interesting. Not one of my favorite videos of hers but not bad either.

    • Ian

      Someone wake me when its over. The crime here is its mediocrity. Very bland and forgetable and the song..well honestly it’s a stinker.

    • Justin

      It’s dope, best video I’ve seen all year. At 2:18 she is saying “fu$$ you haters”…lol. :)

      • alejandro ruinedmylife

        Seriously. The last band i heard sing the fbomb to haters was hollywood undead and theyve turned horrible. Bring deuce back andkick out danny! Ull get the undead army back!

    • Billl

      This one had a very Bollywood feel to me.

    • Fed Up With Mess

      Garbage…just like her fashion, music & ‘art’ !

    • Le HIROSHI

      Your VDO clip’s gone, but somehow I managed to check it out.

      – –

      VDO: B
      Song: B- or C+

      – –

      I like it better. . . Than the previous single (Top 10; C-. . .)

      • Le HIROSHI

        Correction:

        *

        VDO:B- or C+
        Song

      • Le HIROSHI

        Correction:

        *

        VDO: B- or C+
        Song: C+ or C

    • Audrey

      Gaga cannot dance. Her choreography is always going to be limited.

    • BUCKDONNA

      MADONNA is a Material Hag…she is the Queen Of Rip Off..nobody buys Madonna anymore.

      • Lady Rat Face

        Nobody buys the biggest selling female artist of all time? OK.

      • lol

        whut is this? i thought madonna died or something, i literally NEVER hear of her anymore. gaga is ruling the charts, madonna did like 2 centuries ago, time to let her go, she’s not even good anymore. her last album was horrible and that gap bugs me. fuuuuuuuuu-

    • LG

      Lady Gaga the royalty of pop was absolutely AMAZING ON HBO. Anybody hating is jealous she can outperform and outsing your favorite.

  • Vivvy

    I like the video, but I love the song!

  • MultiPass

    It’s a shame that song didn’t do better. It really grew on me after awhile. Maybe the viddy will inspire more interest.

  • Felix

    Meh.

  • Joe

    Its better than Born This Way, but its still not very good. Both of these last singles/videos are the worst she’s ever released. And Judas the song is almost identical to Bad Romance only not as good. Her first album was great but it seems she’s gotten so caught up in wanting to be controversial and be Queen to the gays that she’s forgotten how to have fun.

    • Shannon

      I agree. Just not a very good song, in my opinion.

      At least she didn’t use anyone’s melody this time.

      • Ben

        Except her own via Bad Romance and Poker Face.

    • Razor

      One major difference between Madonna and LG is that Madonna’s albums grew stronger and stronger, whereas LG seems to have peaked already. “Born This Way” was catchy but extremely derivative, and “Judas” is basically a rework of “Bad Romance.” If LG can’t get past one-upping herself visually and back it up with some genuinely good songs, then she won’t be around.

      • esquaX

        You realize ‘Born This Way’ has been her best performing single right? You realize her second Album isn’t even out yet to judge right? I’m gonna go with 0/10 troll or an cliche upset Madonna fan.

      • Woot

        Excuse esquaX… a point was attempted to be made but it was a failure. Yes Born this Way has yet to be released so lets not judger Lady Gaga quite yet. From the snippets of songs I’ve heard, “Judas” and “Born this Way” are by far the weakest two on the album. Check out gagavision 41-44 and all those snippets of her new songs sound great and different. Still, I agree that lately Lady Gaga is just trying to one up herself and isn’t doing a very good job at it. Still a fan though.

      • johnstum

        madonna’s albums got stronger and stronger? so we all agree Hard Candy was her best work right?

        let’s just remember once again that lady gaga has been around only a little more than two years and hasn’t even released her second full length album yet. comparing the span of her career to madonna’s is just dumb. that said, i still would rather listen to any track from the fame monster rather than her two new singles.

      • True Blue

        @ johnstum:

        I think Woot meant the earlier stages of Madonna’s career.

      • Ben

        Maybe not Hard Candy, but definitely from True Blue through Confessions – a nearly 20-year stretch. Pretty impressive, I would say.

      • Sammy

        Then why does it feel like her album has been around forever!

        I think people take Gaga too seriously and overthink and over-analyze her videos (the comparison with The Last Temptation is hilarious!). She’s just an entertainer and a good performer and nowhere as the influential groundbreaking artists the media are trying to make her seem.

        Lady Gaga is successful because she came at a time of barren originality in the music industry that people grasped at the slightest whiff of difference and dissent.

    • Delon

      I’ve been a card carrying member of the gay club for 37 years now and let me tell you that she ain’t my queen. There’s only one queen and that is her Madgesty : world’s top-selling female recording artist of all time, #1 Female artist on Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, 37 top 10 Hot 100 hits and so on. Her cultural impact on the world is incomparable.

  • todd

    meh +1

  • j

    that was underwhelming.

    • AK

      For real. My first thought was, “That’s it?”

      • LOL

        Gaga by the numbers. Yawn.

  • Ricquia

    I love the song but I expected it to be more controversial. Too much hype.

    • Hal

      Exactly – they want you to think it’s edgy and controversial, but it’s not.

    • the_girl

      I disagree, I think the video is incredibly controversial and honest. I see in this video a very introspective study on the nature of temptation within those of us who choose to embrace the potential for goodness in our actions and choices. The song didn’t compel me very much but this video really intrigued me. I am not a crazy little monster fan or anything like that but I like what she did here.

  • keith

    Visually, it’s pretty spectacular to look at. I just wish I liked this new era for Gaga. Haven’t been able to get into either single.

    • Heather

      I agree. She should go back to eccentric, never wears pants Gaga from late 2008 when she was trying to make it. That is when she was at her best.

  • ?

    My expectations were too high. That scene with the waves was pretty sweet… dancing was okay… but it wasn’t up to par with her other work. The actual concept and idea behind the video itself needs editing… it becomes funny in a bad way… Also, that was more ‘T:2 Judgement Day’ than Fellini. Just sayin’.

  • DMC

    Love the song. Hate the video. The formation-dancing music video has got to die.

  • bhud

    i liked that trailer. cant wait until the full, completely edited version comes out

  • Woot

    Liked the visual style, but it didn’t really make sense. It felt more disjointed than Bad Romance or Telephone. Come on Gaga you can do better! I mean I liked it, but it was way too hyped.

  • John Charles

    This is a much better video than “Born This Way”, but the choreography is pretty bad and the sets look like they’re from a porn or a Disneyworld ride. I do like this song better than “Born This Way” as well, but it’s basically a carbon copy of “Bad Romance”. What happened to Gaga’s creativity?! The outfits are pretty great though!

    • g

      so, so glad i wasn’t the only one who got a weird disneyworld vibe.

      • Sara

        Lol! I asked my friend “Did they film this video during shooting breaks on the Pirates of the C. 4 set?”

  • Patrick O’Malley

    Catholics should stop telling everyone else what to do and should stop raping children, stop lying about it, and stop ignoring the victims.

    • Michael

      Whoa… generalize much? There are over one billion Catholics in the world, and certainly it is wrong of you to blame the wrongdoings of several of them on the whole lot.

    • Maureen

      Where the heck did THAT come from?

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