She nearly lost me.
After “Born This Way” incited a national furor now known as Madonnagate and “Judas” proved to be not much more than a noisier, lesser, blasphemy-friendly extension of the already winning “Bad Romance,” my anticipation quickly began to dwindle for Lady Gaga‘s upcoming album, Born This Way.
And then came “The Edge of Glory,” and all hope was officially revitalized.
Like “Born This Way,” “The Edge Of Glory” is a busy hodgepodge of assorted sounds and influences. But unlike “Born This Way,” it’s a brilliant kind of cacophony that makes sense from the very first play.
Produced by Fernando Garibay (“Dance In The Dark”), the Born This Way closer mashes a throbbing House beat with flares of ’80s synthesizers, a jagged over-driven guitar, and of course, that saxophone breakdown.
While the song truly avoids any blatant references to popular song, if there were a comparison to draw, it would be with an artist no one saw coming: Kelly Clarkson–and more specifically, her 2009 hit, “My Life Would Suck Without You.” But the comparison only vaguely holds for the melody of the chorus. More than anything, the comparison stems from Gaga’s jagged, Clarkson-esque yelping rather than prompting a long-winded debate about chord progressions.
(In short: It’s a “Hey! That kind of sounds like…,” and not a “No literally, it’s the same fucking song.”)
Lyrically, the song also shines: Written to honor the memory of her grandfather who died last year, “The Edge of Glory” is a genuinely enthralling all-or-nothing anthem about living life up until its final moment: “Another shot before we kiss the other side / I’m on the edge of something final we call life,” Gaga cries.
It’s the kind of song that deserves to be blasted from the car speakers, windows down, clenched fist raised high through the sun roof while racing down the highway on a blistering summer night. You know, that kind of a song.
And of course, there’s that extended saxophone solo, performed by Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band (which is probably why Bruce Springsteen comes to mind about as quickly as Clarkson.) Of course, there’s a hokey, dated Full House/PokÃ©mon ’90’s TV theme song element to the sax solo’s inclusion, but it’s a smart addition–one that makes “The Edge of Glory” something extra special. Or, to use the word that we all know keeps Gaga moist on a nightly basis: “Unique.”
So congratulations, Mademoiselle Gaga…I’m back on board and ready to ride this crazy train once again.
“The Edge of Glory” was released on May 9. (iTunes)