December 2, 2011

10 Musical Thoughts: Marry The Night

Last night, I live-tweeted (isn't that what all twatting is?) the new Lady Gaga video, Marry The Night. As always, if you can't stream the video, go to youtube. Here are some revised thoughts from my tweets...

1. The track itself has perhaps the most compelling minute in pop music in 2011, from 3:35 onward, it fucking blazes.

2. That said, it also has one of the most awkward lyrics of the year, "Love is the new denim or black." Inane.

3. This video is a 13-minute closing statement for why Lady Gaga has lost the plot. That plodding, overwrought intro piece before we ever get to the music. And what should be the payoff dance sequence at the end? It gets all chopped up so we don't see it. What was that? Did she try to tell the story of her career in final minute?

4. Gaga, people liked you for your pop songs and get-ups, not because you self harmed, aborted a child or whatever you are vaguely alluding to for 8 long minutes. How that moment affected your fame, I don't get. Apparently the answer to all woes is "I will be famous!"

5. She is straining to shock: I had an abortion, I am showing my tits to my Monsters, I am puking, it turns out I paint on my hair color while drugged up in a bath. Am I sick in the bath or am I sexy, writhing around with my hot tats?

6. As @jbspitzer said, "Can we talk about her Madge voice?" What was that enunciation in the narration? And yet another brazen Madonna getup when she goes to the dance school and they're all looking down at her (which is overcooked symbolism).

7. How much did this bloated self indulgence cost? And how is this video 13 minutes long and yet it still feels incomplete? There are huge gaps in the narrative, especially given the glimpses of visuals in the final minte. This is a VIDEO, Gaga, show us, don't tell us.

8. Somebody at Lady Gaga's label - we know it's Interscope because its scratched on her hand at the end - needs to stand up to her and say "You need a seasoned video director who can help you tell your stories." Madonna and Michael hired the best and never had the hubris to think they were better. This is the career moment where Gaga should use her industry bona fides to bring back big guns like Mark Romanek.

9. What do I think is good? The blow job cheek/hand motion. A few of the looks, like when she marches up to the dance troupe at the end and takes off her glasses. Or the very brief big hat ("I made it! My hat is too huge for my car service!"). And the signature dance move - that leg kicking thing. Let's all do that over some beers and forget this vagazzled mess.

10. Silver lining: One would think that Madonna will see this Gaga video and say FOLLOW THIS PUSSYCAT. My own roommate summed up Marry The Night best when she said, "Who's got time for all that bullshit?"

no no no, Gaga. It's embarrassing now.


countpopula said...

I definitely agree with some of your points. I am also probably a bit more kind in the let-her-experiment-a-bit-and-see-what-comes-out school of thought. There are some good moments in the video, and I think it may be her most personal yet. How about the fact that she allows herself to appear SO unattractive on film? The opening bit actually shows that she may have more acting chops than someone like Madonna who was generally quite stiff in her film roles, even Evita, which was quite good. I think the fact that Gaga is willing to allow herself to appear vulnerable is admirable.

That being said, it is a bit messy, and she seems to have really liked Black Swan. If it is a metaphor for her career, we DO need more explanation. How does the hospital relate to the car to the bed/bath to the ballet to the chorus lines to the Beat It street dance? As her first directorial effort, she needs to work harder to connect the dots. BUT, the video IS messy just how I think she wants us to feel about her career path so far. Letting go of her former stylist may be the most liberating, messy thing she could have done at this point, and it will be interesting to see where she goes from here. More vulnerability is a good thing, and this may be the best video from the BTW era yet. While it's awkward, it revels in its awkwardness, while the previous videos didn't realize how awkward they were.

On a purely positive note, Marry the Night is a fantastic song, and it should hopefully reignite this album campaign a bit. Also, I'm starting to save now for purchase of a music video collection from this compelling artist someday in the future. She is all about the mess of being a pop artist and recycler of her influences.

John said...

With the disclaimer that I'm going to be a bit 'all over the place' with these comments, let me commence.

I agree, Stephen: She needs an experienced director to help her realize her vision. Or better yet, let go and let him/her develop a concept and see it through. But clearly she's not in that place (see Joseph Khan). Mark Romanek would be an excellent pick, maybe even Mary Lambert, though she may be too tied for Madonna for Gaga to ever consider. And such a pick wouldn't exactly silence the copycat critics (of which I am, at times, admittedly one). But maybe a fellow female is in order.

'Black Swan' references are beyond their sell-by date.

The 'bedazzler' moment is great as is the bj motion, especially because this is when I like Gaga best -- with a SENSE OF HUMOR. Often (read: very nearly always) she's all too self-serious and overblown. Look, I'm an 'artiste'! No, you're a pop star -- have some fun.

Even when George Michael went all 'Take me seriously and stop looking at my bum,' he cast supermodels to lipsync his song. (It helped that "Too Funky" was one of his best.) I'm not suggesting that Gaga's aim or career moment is the same, simply that there are more inventive ways of expressing one's personal thoughts in one's music videos. "Too Funky" is still fun to watch after all these years, but I don't think I need to see "Marry The Night" ever again. (Maybe I'm showing my age with the desire to see a 'lasting legacy' -- perhaps pop culture/music is now all about impermanence.)

I'm still not over the ruination of "Edge Of Glory" via music video. A lost opportunity. And really, I feel similarly about "Marry The Night," another song I really do like. I actually love lots of the 'Born This Way' album, but the visual components have been weak, if not outright awful.

Countpopula: Regarding Gaga's 'acting chops,' I'll just say that many pop stars pull off acting in their music videos quite well -- but rarely does that translate onto the big screen.

Finally, "Love is the new denim or black" is not the most awkward lyrics, but rather the ones that come directly before and after. "New York is not just a tan that you never lose," and "Skeleton guns or wedding bells in the attic." Made to choose, I'd pick the former as the most leaden. No matter how many times the track comes up on my iPod, I never remember what the hell she's singing.

(Oh, and "I made it! My hat is too huge for my car service!" is one of your best-ever comments, Stephen.)

countpopula said...

To clarify, I just meant that her acting seemed to come from some place sort of real and non-contrived. Conjuring tears is not the easiest thing for somebody to do on command, and hers seem rather natural. She also displayed pretty decent comedic talents when she's been on SNL.

I wouldn't have used the Black Swan reference had it not been so present...the gritty look of the video, the descent into madness, the ballet sequence...better to acknowledge rather than ignore IMO, and I loved that movie.

John said...

Countpopula: Sorry, my comment re: 'Black Swan' references being out of day wasn't directed to you, but Gaga.

As for the Gaga's ability to conjure tears, she seems to do it at nearly every awards' acceptance speech and live performance (and uploaded TwitVid). At this point, I'm not surprised she can summon the waterworks at will for a music video.