Single Review: Lady GaGa – ‘The Edge Of Glory’

“Leagues ahead of her competition and should rightly continue her reign atop the charts with it’s expertly woven, elaborate and lavishly extravagant hooks”

4 STARS

Digital Release: May 9, 2011

Physical Release: July 17, 2011

Lady GaGa, since her debauching début single ‘Just Dance’, has always evoked a split response from the millions of people that hear her music daily. Some adorn her and her wildly eccentric fashion sense and find her modesty absolutely disarming, whilst others cling viciously to their Madonna, Grace Jones and Queen collections and condemn her and all those who exercise such blinded sycophancy at the mere mention of her name.

But with some claiming GaGa was the driving force for the dance-pop upheaval of the chart scene that has lasted the past three and a half years, and other claiming her to be the pinnacle of unprecedented musical talent in today’s industry, it was surely only a matter of time before she neutralised the only real criticism many of her detractors could voice against the quality of her music: it’s arguable lack of substance. 

In her early days, GaGa was aware that Stefani Germanotta was not a commercial artist so it was imperative for her to temporarily join the ranks of those celebrating careless dissipation and indulgence. And once she had garnered her fanbase after the enormous ‘The Fame’ (which had very few moments that merit her current fame), ‘The Fame Monster’ was an altogether more daring endeavour and rightly seated her at the untouchable extremity of the pop spectrum; avant-garde, a place that her peers could only view from a distance of intangibility. But even so, GaGa has never released many singles with much substance; any emotion other than that that stems from shallow love is seldom found in her singles back-catalogue.

That was, until ‘The Edge Of Glory’, which she claims was inspired by the passing of her grandfather, and how “The Edge Of Glory” is the few vital seconds before you die; the point at which you feel most alive, before you pass “over the edge”. So marrying this newfound depth with her artsy electropop could well develop into her biggest hit to date, but alas, ‘The Edge Of Glory’ sees her sacrifice – unwisely, some might say – the more ostentatious qualities of her earlier material. Yes, we see GaGa as a real person who is truly opening up for what feels like the first time in her music, and yes, there are still enough hooks to happily procure for the next two SAW films, but there’s something missing, and that something is what stops ‘The Edge Of Glory’ from sounding like a classic. Even with the effervescent synths and the crystal-clear vocal soaring heroically over them, it falls short of the foundations GaGa has built her career on.

But that’s not to say there aren’t many things to commend other than the sentiment. The musicality is worth commending too – syncopation, cross-genres, the huge chorus, it’s all leagues ahead of her competition and should rightly continue her reign atop the charts with it’s expertly woven, elaborate and lavishly extravagant hooks. The lyrics are some of the best she’s ever written on a GaGa record: “I’m on the edge of something final we call life, tonight”, she sings. So even though the subtle nuances of what makes GaGa an artist have been compromised somewhat, seeing her present herself as more of a real person both on the song and in the video than we’ve ever been allowed to see is much more pleasant than anything from ‘Born This Way’ has already attempted to offer us.

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