Few music videos drop with as much fanfare as Lady Gaga's, and her latest, "Alejandro," is no exception. The 9-minute spectacle crashed the pop star's website yesterday, and, some theorize, played a major part in the massive Twitter outage that left the blogosphere temporarily paralyzed earlier today. Critics have made zealous efforts to fathom the meaning behind "Alejandro" — a bizarre, S&M fueled mashup — without reaching much consensus: (Watch video below)

It's a gorgeous tribute to pre-Nazi Germany: "Alejandro" is "influenced by the smoky, darkly decadent art and fashion of 1920s Weimar Germany," says James Montgomery at MTV. The "carefully crafted close-ups, languorously smoked cigarettes and oppressively cut costumes" are all reminiscent of the "artistically fertile but politically and economically difficult era" preceding Hitler's rise to power. The "artful level of moroseness" creates "a world that, while oppressive, also looks great."
"Lady Gaga's 'Alejandro' video: German Expressionism with a beat!"

It's clearly a nod to Fascist Spain: From Gaga's "tight, bureaucratic bun" to the "jack boots reminiscent of storm troopers," the video is obviously a "fetish fantasy" set in Franco's Fascist Spain, says The Improper. And Gaga's got good reason to reach into history: "Gays, dissidents, and Jews were widely prosecuted during this harsh rule."
"Lady Gaga Alejandro video's heavy Fascist vibe"

But it could be an attack on the Catholic Church: The "homoerotic military theme" could be construed as a "creative critique" of the Catholic Church's demonization of homosexuality, says Lindsay Parker at Yahoo Music News. (Not so, says director Steven Klein in an email to MTV: When Gaga appears clad in a nun's habit at the end of the video, her mouth and eyes disappear "because she is withdrawing her senses from the world of evil and going inward towards prayer and contemplation.")
"Lady Gaga gets serious in Alejandro"

Proof of Gaga's link to the Illuminati? This "willfully arty and bleak" music video, filled with "fascist iconography, simulated sex, vinyl S&M nuns and an assault rifle bra" can only be tied together by one explanation, says Cory Casciato at the Denver Westword. Gaga might be "wrapped up with the Illuminati," as certain conspiracy theorists would have it, "after all."
"Lady Gaga's 'Alejandro' video ups her weirdness quotient. Again."