Friday, November 25th, 2011

Lady Gaga – Marry The Night

It’s going to be a high scoring day…


Brad Shoup: Until that awesome synth-bass line showed up at the end, I was thinking this relationship was really one-sided.

Edward Okulicz: As befits her status in my mind as pop’s premier egotist, perhaps even egocentrist, Gaga has absolutely nothing of worth to say to me other than that which is about herself. Fortunately, she’s often capable of taking that limitation and making breathtaking pop with it, and the opening 30 seconds of “Marry the Night” are a high-energy hymn of, and to, heart-stopping pleasure. In my imagination I can hear the title chanted over church organs and it sounds just as good as it does over pulsing Eurodance. A relentless dance-floor steamroller, in other words.

Pete Baran: This is probably my favourite bog-standard dancefloor stomper on Born This Way, and it offers enough quirk to make it the genuine Gaga article. Its not a single, in the way that True Blue wasn’t a single, its the type of track that goes without saying. Without songs like this there would be no Lady Gaga: its not her best, its not her worst, but her average bats a lot higher than most of her competitors at the moment.

Jer Fairall: Gaga is nowhere near as powerful or nimble a singer as Donna Summer, but her decision to bookend Born This Way with a pair of Summer pastiches nevertheless points out some flattering vocal similarities between the two. Gaga is likewise at her best lately when she sticks to something that is exactly this simple and charming, thumping dancefloor testimonials that reach for the intoxication of “Heaven Knows” or “Last Dance” rather than the heavy-handed disguises that characterize the rest of the record. Only the last minute or so of electro-noodling hints at the bloat that is to come as Born This Way trudges its way to its glorious concluding bit of Donna Sumeria.

Alfred Soto: Donna Summer — that’s who Gaga reminds me of in the opening bars, and she earns the comparison, marrying ecstatic gibberish to karaoke organ to a protean beat as she toot toots and beep beeps the streets looking for kicks.

Jonathan Bradley: On “Marry the Night,” Gaga evinces a suitably pre-nuptial frisson, making vivid a potentially stale metaphor. If it’s overwhelming and lacking in subtlety, it should be; a disco fanfare powerful enough to usher our heroine to the altar can’t be half-hearted. Springsteen found freedom from working class drudgery when he would “lock up the house, turn out the lights, and step out into the night,” and Germanotta’s take is the feminized, perhaps queered equivalent. “Night,” like “Marry the Night” was about the tantalizing temptation of possibility, the symbolic power of the darkened city, when it’s still so undefined that it may contain the potential for anything.

Katherine St Asaph: Impossible, yet true: Lady Gaga’s Born This Way is the most underrated album of 2011. Mainstream critics obviously don’t give a shit, poptimists are too busy with their boof-boofs and Brit-Brits to remember the year’s other huge pop album, and everyone else is already sick of it. Gaga’s gotta bear some of the blame for overexposing her gimmicks and releasing mediocre singles. I bet half of you haven’t even heard the whole album. I have; let me play ambassador. It’s ridiculous, it’s super-’80s, it’s overblown and overstuffed and would be better as an EP. It’s also far sadder than you think. Listen close; notice how often she mentions insecurity, or compromise, or tears. “Marry the Night” has all three. It’s got other stuff — queer code-switching, oodles of pretension and a fortnight’s worth of predecessors, lyrical and otherwise (for Madonna snarkers, it’s deliberate how the percussion loop on verse two evokes “Holiday“). But the predecessor I hear most isn’t listed: Cher’s “Runaway,” whose melody dips and rises the same way to deliver its refrain: “if I can’t find love, I’ve gotta run away.” Now really listen to Gaga: “I won’t give up on my life.” “I’m a soldier to my own emptiness.” “I’ll go down to the bar, but I won’t cry anymore” (i.e. she usually breaks down in bars), even “I’m gonna marry the night” (i.e. not a person; the canonical song with such a declaration ended in drowning.) She’s a loser, she’s a sinner, and the song mentions no friends or lovers, just herself alone with her whiskey and boots and the New York streets, which offer no sympathy at 2 a.m. She’s a natural vocalist, yet here she sounds desperate and strained, as if she’s trying to force herself to sing through impending tears. She can’t even keep up a major key for more than two bars. And yet she boshes on: cheesy guitars, ludicrous lyrics, self-mythologizing bullshit and all. The artifice is deliberate. Be steely and sleazy and synthy enough, and you’ll stomp right over your pain; belt loud enough and you’ll belt it away. Maybe I’m too close to Born This Way. I moved to New York, the setting of “Marry the Night,” on May 6. I didn’t think it’d take two days for the song to become too pertinent. When it came out, this album and this song in particular were all that sounded right for weeks. It’s different now, but I still intone the intro when I hear this, fling myself into the chorus, clench during the bridge, sigh up for the major key and sink back for the minor. Not just anything would do this for me. You’d have to have made the best song of the year.

3 Responses to “Lady Gaga – Marry The Night”

  1. Do I really get to be the first to praise Katherine’s blurb? Cool.

  2. It’s true! I put on “Marry the Night” the other day as a pick-me-up, forgot to turn off “Born This Way”, and as the rest of the album progressed, I realized it wasn’t so bad after all. (The first half, at least.)

  3. Yes, Katherine’s piece is fantastic. Jonathan and Edward also put very good cases for a song which I haven’t really appreciated in its own right enough outside of album opening context. I wouldn’t put the album among my favourites of the year largely because I value consistency too highly (and The Fame Monster got everything including that very right!) but it is frequently amazing.