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…music reviews: “The Edge of Glory” Lady Gaga

June 21, 2011

“The Edge of Glory” Lady Gaga (Billboard Hot 100 #6, Week of June 24, 2011)

Gaga is an intuitive freak.

As awful and opportunistic as it sounds, there is something spooky yet perfect about Lady Gaga drafting Clarence Clemons to play an extended sax outro to close out an exhilarating song which was inspired by the moment before death. Then, of course, as the song is sailing high on radio playlists across the nation, giving the Big Man his most exposure in two decades, he passes.

Of course, there is no way to pin this cosmic coincidence on Gaga’s admittedly keen sense of promotion. Still, I can’t help but imagine that, without knowing the details, she sensed that having Clemons on the record was the correct decision. For his legacy, for the sound she was going for, and for the clear drive she has to be accepted as legitimate rock royalty.

As a lowly record review, all I can conclusively tell you here is that it was the correct decision from a musical standpoint. The only way to legitimize a runaway tribute to epic ’80s power pop is by bookending it with a solo by a musician who captures both the excess and the artistry of that decade. Gaga shows here that she can throw her dance ice goddess persona aside and rock out with unfettered soul and un-self-conscious glee.

I was not jumping up and down about the more calculated sound of “Born This Way.” Here, though, she nails it. I want to see more weird stuff from Lady Gaga, but it is hard to complain with such a buoyant record playing in your head.

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