Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

Lady Gaga – 911

It’s popping an emergency…


Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The strongest and most cinematic Gaga music video in years, the most personal and vulnerable Gaga single in recent memory, the best a TSJ blurb has ever aged, the best transition between two songs since Kanye’s “All of the Lights,” and easily the most iconic and jaw-dropping moment in 2020 pop. I’m not naive enough to think that Gaga isn’t past her prime hit-making days, but when she makes music as daring as this, it makes me hopeful that her second imperial dynasty might yet still be upon us. 

Thomas Inskeep: Yeah, I’m not dialing this number, which just connects to a more-flash-than-heat pop record that Gaga’s better than. (And in the event of a an actual musical emergency, I’ll call this one instead.)

Alex Clifton: My first thought hearing this (without knowing the artist) was, “Oh sweet, Marina’s back with more robo-anthems about hating oneself, just in time for 2020!” But it’s not Marina, it’s Lady Gaga. Which is fine! “911” isn’t Gaga’s best work ever, but it fits into the specific sub-category of “songs that make me dance while confronting my mental health.” Although she’s an innovative, pioneering pop force, this doesn’t feel like a Gaga (TM) number but more generic. I truly cannot tell if that’s actually the case, or if I’ve just been listening to a lot of Sad Bangers recently.

Alfred Soto: The anonymity of the fat-bottomed dance pop with which she charmed a generation suits her, dialectically, for Gaga doesn’t sound like anyone else, nor would “anyone else” have written “My biggest enemy is me/pop a 911” for a chorus hook. 

Juana Giaimo: In the last couple of years, the music industry has used mental health to sell so many artists. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very important that we’re talking about mental health, but many artists seem to do it just because it’s part of the current agenda. They write an encouraging, empty message, and that’s all. But “911” captures how it feels to be mentally exhausted. Here, Lady Gaga’s voice is far from the strong, powerful vocals we know her for. Her artificial high pitch, along with the industrial production, sounds like a broken record (in the music video, people also move as if they were machines) about to explode. It’s like those times when you just can’t believe you’re still feeling like this, but you don’t know how to change it. What else can you do except dance?

Katherine St Asaph: You’ve got to hand it to Gaga: After a spate of songs about “anxiety” that wouldn’t trouble a guidance counselor, she goes and makes one about Zyprexa, which as meds go is non-trivial stuff — and fast-acting, hence the “911.” And she makes one less about the pain itself than the act of repressing it. “911” reminds me a bit of Scanners’ “When They Put Me Back Together They Forgot to Turn Me On“: swooping, pained vocals and jagged arrangement giving way to forced calm. Beneath the harsh “Do What U Want” throb — “Stupid Love” wasn’t the only Chromatica track to rehabilitate that song — and narcotized “Funkytown” affect lies real pain: lost friendships, life rubble, and the resulting however many decades left to grieve them. The chorus, with its singsong melody, bouncy “Poker Face” rhythm, and chirpy la-di-da “meeeee”s, sounds artificial and unresolved because it is; “911” is a song in which “biological stasis” is the happiest ending you get. Pop another one.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “911” is impressive in its ambition, trying to meld together both the breakdown and the anti-psychotic calm that follows in a crisp 2:50. It’s more successful in doing the latter– Gaga’s spoken word hooks have always been her strength, and here she provides the exact metallic chill that the song needs to convey. Everything else feels a little more like a sketch than a fully articulated song, a memory of the dancefloor rather than something you’d actually hear there.

Reader average: [8.33] (12 votes)

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One Response to “Lady Gaga – 911”

  1. wow blast from the past….

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