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

Lady Gaga Alejandro


"Alejandro" is the third single released off Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster" EP, and it is a musical mix of synth-pop and Latin-style beats. The meaning of the song is multi-layered. The video's director, fashion photographer Steven Klein, told MTV he considered it a tale about, "The pain of living without your true love." Gaga, who co-wrote the song with her producer RedOne while in Amsterdam and Ibiza in the summer of 2009, says the song represents, "saying goodbye to all my past boyfriends." Each of the songs on "The Fame Monster" was supposedly influenced by a particular "monster" that hounded Gaga. In the case of "Alejandro," that monster was the "fear of men."

Three Boyfriends

Gaga has claimed that the song specifically references three "boyfriends": 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. McQueen committed suicide just two months before the release of "Alejandro" as a single. Garibay produced another song on the EP, "Dance In the Dark," and then later worked on multiple tracks on the "Born This Way" album, including the title hit single. Fusari worked with Gaga on her single "Paparazzi," which made an appearance on disc two of "The Fame Monster" EP.

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 in interviews that she considers the group 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," a composition by late-19th-/early 20th-century Italian composer Vittorio Monti. Monti was known for writing both ballets and operettas, but "Csardas" is his most famous composition. It is based on a Hungarian czardas, or folk dance.

Commercial Impact

"Alejandro" became Lady Gaga's seventh consecutive top 10 pop hit single in the U.S. It was also the third and final top 10 hit released from "The Fame Monster." It peaked at No. 5 on the pop chart, No. 1 on the dance chart, and No. 13 on both adult pop and adult contemporary radio. It was Lady Gaga's first single to not reach No. 1 at mainstream pop radio.

Music Video

The accompanying music video for "Alejandro" is one of the most controversial of Lady Gaga's career. The concept for the video veered slightly away from her stated meaning of the song itself. Lady Gaga indicated the video was about her friendships with gay men and her subsequent failure to find a straight male partner.

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

Video Controversy

Many critics compared the "Alejandro" video to the one-shot for Madonna's "Like a Prayer." They both blend Catholic imagery and sex, and Gaga's caused a similar flood of complaints for its so-called sacrilegious depiction of religious imagery. Others complained that the video was a cheap attempt to court attention through religious blasphemy, while still others saw it as a ripoff of Madonna's style. Klein defended Gaga's intent and his work, stating they had never meant the video to be negative or insulting. Instead, they wanted to represent a battle between the forces of dark and light. "She likes epics," Klein went on to explain in an interview with Rolling Stone. "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."