The imagery of the video is rather provocative, though it isn’t deprived of aesthetic value and adherence to design principles. The very first visual feature to be mentioned is a peculiar color scheme including no too bright or light hues, with the overall atmosphere of the video being a little bit sombre. The depicted venue is the bar – or even a brothel – hosting rather strange and extravagant characters: a cardinal in a red robe, a priest, prostitutes, musicians playing live, several oddly dressed women, a supposed sinner lashing himself with a whip and a beggar outside the bar. Dominating black, burgundy, white and various yellowish shades endow the color appearance with certain aristocraticism, which is then purposefully supported by other elements of video design such as style of interior, lighting and costumes. Moreover, the imagery contains balanced repetition of dominating colors and shades, which makes the video look like a whole and seamless piece and creates unity. Also, a design principle used in the video design is opposition, as opposite visual concepts are drawn together here (Bartel, 2012). A mysterious white-veiled woman, which seems to symbolize purity, is opposed to a weary prostitute dressed in black; moreover, the opposition of clergymen and prostitutes, i.e. sinners, arrests one’s attention. In addition, a very significant image used in the video is the imitation of a Renaissance painting, which is virtually “imbedded” in the ending of the video, yet, with a pinch of mocking.
The visual imagery used in ‘The Next Day’ obviously serves to communicate a rather profound yet daring message – along with the lyrics of the song, it serves to express Bowie’s radical criticism of Catholic church and its corruption. Clear and hidden religious symbols as well as actions of the featuring actors depict the most unpleasant sides of clergy and church