Lady Gaga's 'Judas' Video Hits The Net

The clip, set to premiere tonight on E!, leaked early ... and, as Gaga put it, it's 'a celebration of faith.'

Well, it's here ... eight hours ahead of schedule. On Thursday morning (May 5), Lady Gaga's hotly anticipated "Judas" video premiered, though probably not in the way that Mother Monster (and the folks at E!) had hoped it would: It leaked.

Originally set to be unveiled on the network during prime time on Thursday (and then again at 11:30 p.m.), "Judas" got a bit of an advance screening, quickly making the rounds on the Internet while the Little Monsters squealed with delight (or, alternately, expressed their outrage at its leaking). And despite pretty much everything Gaga had said about the video — that it was "a motorcycle Fellini film," that it portrayed "a betrayal of a prophecy fulfilled" — it is very much a pure pop clip, albeit one that looks great and is sure to earn the ire of a few folks on the religious right.

An arty reimagining of the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot, the video sees Gaga as Mary Magdalene, riding along with Christ and his apostles, who are decked out in studded leathers and set atop roaring motorcycles. They cruise through — as Gaga put it — "a modern-day Jerusalem," with Judas tellingly racing ahead of the pack. At one point, they stop at an "Electric Chapel," where Gaga attempts to warn Christ — who, with his cornrows and golden crown of thorns, is far from traditional — of his apostle's impending betrayal. Whether or not he chooses to listen is largely up to the viewer, as the clip then segues into an extended sequence rife with religious iconography ... and, of course, dance.

And though it remains to be seen if the highly touted "uncut" version of "Judas" — which will still premiere tonight on E! at 7 p.m. ET — contains more controversial material, it's difficult to see why some people would have a problem with the video: Sure, Jesus looks different, and Gaga is playing Magdalene (certainly one of the most controversial figures in the Bible), but its imagery isn't nearly as sacred/profane as that of the "Alejandro" clip (Gaga does not, to the best of our knowledge, ingest rosary beads here), and in fact, with its artistic interpretations of foot washing and Boticelli's "The Birth of Venus," it's almost more of a tribute to the pop sensation's Catholic upbringing ... a fact she hit on when she said the video "[is] meant more to celebrate faith than it is to challenge it."

Leave it to Gaga to push the boundaries while remaining faithful to the source material. "Judas" is, at its sacred heart, an artistic explosion contained within the confines of a traditional pop clip. And if it's meant to be a celebration, well, you should probably start celebrating ... before the clip gets pulled, of course.

Have you seen Gaga's leaked "Judas" video and, if so, what do you think? Share your opinions in the comments.