What Is the Meaning of Lady Gaga's "Alejandro"?

Lady Gaga Alejandro
Lady Gaga - "Alejandro". Courtesy Interscope

Farewell To Past Boyfriends

Lady Gaga wrote "Alejandro" with her producer RedOne while in Amsterdam and Ibiza in the summer of 2009 on the Fame Ball concert tour. Lady Gaga says that the song represents, "saying goodbye to all my past boyfriends." Her album The Fame Monster was made up of songs individually influenced by a particular "monster." In the case of "Alejandro," it was the "Fear of Men" monster.

The three boyfriends specifically referenced in "Alejandro" are fashion designer Alexander McQueen represented by the name Alejandro, producer Fernando Garibay using his actual first name and producer and former collaborator Rob Fusari represented by the name Roberto. Alexander McQueen committed suicide just two months before the release of "Alejandro" as a single. Fernando Garibay produced the song "Dance In the Dark" on the Fame Monster album and then later worked on multiple tracks on the Born This Way album including the title hit single. Rob Fusari worked with Lady Gaga on her single "Paparazzi" among other album tracks.

Comparisons To ABBA and Ace of Base

Musically "Alejandro" has been compared to the pop groups ABBA and Ace of Base. One of the key references to ABBA is the name "Fernando" which is also the title of the Swedish group's 1975 top 15 pop hit. Lady Gaga has mentioned she sees the group as a key musical influence.

The overall sound of "Alejandro" brings to mind Ace of Base's 1994 top 5 pop smash "Don't Turn Around." Both songs begin with a spoken word intro. Other comparisons include the loping beat and structure of the vocals. Some observers also see similarities to the Latin sound of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita."

Vittorio Monti and "Csardas"

"Alejandro" begins with a violin playing the melody line from "Csardas" by Italian composer Vittorio Monti. He wrote both ballets and operettas. "Csardas" is his most famous composition. It is based on a Hungarian czardas, or folk dance. The piece was used previously in films.

Commercial Impact

"Alejandro" became Lady Gaga's seventh consecutive top 10 pop hit single in the US. It was also the third and final top 10 hit released from The Fame Monster. It peaked at #5 on the pop chart, #1 on the dance chart and #13 at both adult pop and adult contemporary radio. It was Lady Gaga's first single to not reach #1 at mainstream pop radio.

Music Video Plot

The accompanying music video for "Alejandro" became one of the most controversial of Lady Gaga's career. It was directed by fashion photographer Stephen Klein. Conceptually, Lady Gaga indicated the video was about her friendships with gay men and her subsequent failure to find a straight male partner. The music video celebrates the love of gay men and features Lady Gaga pining for the kind of love gay men share with each other.

The choreography in the "Alejandro" music video is influenced by the groundbreaking work of Bob Fosse for the musical Cabaret.

In the beginning of the clip, Lady Gaga leads a funeral procession. She then appears as a character similar to Sally Bowles from Cabaret. Later she is dressed in a hooded robe that brings to mind Joan of Arc, and then she appears as a nun in a red latex habit swallowing rosary beads. Lady Gaga also wears a bra studded with guns. 

Music Video Imagery

The use of religious imagery in the "Alejandro" music video caused a flood of complaints. The "Alejandro" clip was compared to Madonna's "Like a Prayer" music video for its blend of Catholic imagery with sex. Music video director Stephen Klein spoke out publicly to defend Lady Gaga saying that the religious imagery was not meant to be negative. Instead, it was meant to represent a battle between the forces of dark and light. Steven Klein explained further in an interview with Rolling Stone.

He said, "She likes epics. It fits her personality. We combined dance, narrative and attributes of surrealism. The process was to express Lady Gaga's desire to reveal her heart and bear her soul."

Some critics complained that the "Alejandro" music video amount to a cheap attempt to court attention through religious blasphemy. Some also saw it as an obvious attempt to steal Madonna's "Queen of Pop" crown.