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David Bowie Plays a Religious Gig in Weirdly Meta ‘The Next Day’ Video

David Bowie, "The Next Day," video

The title track from David Bowie’s new album, The Next Day, conceals darkly religious imagery behind glam-rock sleaze. “They can work with Satan while they dress like the saints / They know God exists, for the devil told him so,” the rock legend sings, almost shouts. Bowie already revealed that the video for the “The Next Day” would feature actor Gary Oldman dressed up in religious vestments, but now he has unveiled the full clip, which puts its bleak manipulation of Christian iconography front and center. 

Oldman, looking like nothing less than Robert Mitchum as the false prophet in Hollywood classic The Night of the Hunter, is joined by actress Marion Cotillard, who suffers a particularly messy case of stigmata. Written and conceived by Bowie, and directed Floria Sigismondi, who also oversaw the Tilda Swinton-starring “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” visuals, the video shows, well, guys dressed like saints but giving every indication they’re working with Satan — if serving up eyeballs on a plate is an indication. Bowie, of course, is performing at this particular party, wearing a humble robe.

When the religious-themed theater of cruelty is all over, Bowie thanks Oldman, Cotillard, and “everybody.” Then he vanishes. Is it the music-video version of The Next Day‘s self-referential cover art? Who knows, but it’s well worth watching. No, thank you, David!