"Marry The Night," Lady Gaga's new video has racked up eleven million views and counting since debuting this past Friday. The most surprising part isn't how many views the clip has registered as much as the fact that that many people are willing to watch a fourteen-minute music video in which the music doesn't kick in 'til 8:50 mark. Could this be Gaga's attempt to match "Thriller"? In certain ways, yes. The narrative arc for "Marry The Night" has a strong storyline, but it's choreography falls flat when compared to Michael Jackson's zombie arms.
It's hard out there for a lady, as Lady Gaga makes clear from the beginning of "Marry The Night." Like other recent pop visuals lately -- including the videos for Rihanna's "We Found Love" and Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away" -- "Marry The Night" begins with a narrative: "When I look back on my life, it's not that I don't want to see things exactly as they happened; it's just that I prefer to remember them in an artistic way. And truthfully, the lie of it all is much more honest because I invented it." Unlike its competitors, though, "Marry The Night" is strangely indulgent in all the right ways -- once you get past Gaga's own psychological analysis.
Gaga understands that she's behind the times when it comes to these dime-a-dozen spoken introductions to story-based music videos, so her words aren't so much about finding love in a hopeless place or loving someone who got away as they are about escapism. And isn't that what Gaga is about in the first place, providing social criticism dressed in pop escapism? In "Marry The Night" she indulges her auteuristic self and her fans all too well. As two nurses, dressed in Calvin Klein and mint (a color Gaga claims "will be very big in fashion next spring") berets wheel a bed-ridden, brunette-styled Gaga into the ward, Gaga's narration turns from self-reflection to blunt cultural commentary. "Check out this nurse on the right; she's got a great ass... bam," Gaga says in her voiceover.
Lady Gaga is a smart pop star. She doesn't just give her fans what they want, she tells them what they want. She builds stories and characters from the visual elements of her songs -- with the videos for "You And I" and "Judas" to be her most inventive. Her tours are a musical spectacle. And yet, both of those aforementioned singles, plus "The Edge Of Glory," failed to top the Billboard Hot 100.
More strikingly, none of the singles from Born This Way have sold 500,000 copies or more, unlike many of her early singles like "Poker Face" (five million sold), "Bad Romance" (four million sold) and "Paparazzi" (three million sold). While Gaga may be the world's most unpredictable pop star right now, with an unmatched fanbase of Little Monsters, that repute isn't translating to sales for the singles from Born This Way, which, as an album, sold like hotcakes when it was released earlier this year.
Rightly so, during the scene of "Marry The Night" in which the nurse checks Gaga's vitals, the pop star recognizes that her own evolution into an avant garde creative entity is now being threatened by other lady pop stars who are flexing their own creative muscles, both sonically and visually. Although Lady Gaga may have reintroduced the pop experience as we know it today -- in which female pop stars are redefining the genre to be cool again, through showcasing their personalities and exploring fashion, various genres and even other media, like movies, much like Madonna did -- even Gaga's dominance is now being matched against Katy Perry and Rihanna's.
Rest assured, though, Little Monsters, that Gaga is using the "Marry The Night" video as a statement to Rihanna and Ms. Perry. Gaga may have had a slew of lower-performing singles, but she's going to return in top form for her next album; she tells us so during the same examination scene. In between the nurse telling Gaga about her vitals, Gaga announces her return to top form, in part referencing her health, in part referencing her career on the singles chart: "I'm gonna make it... I'm gonna be a star. You know why? Because I have nothing left to lose."
As the "Marry The Night" video continues to rack up views, sales may increase, they may not (more people will be buying cereal now, thanks to Gaga's artistic breakdown at the six-minute mark). The competition among "Marry The Night," "We Found Love" and "The One That Got Away" on the Billboard Hot 100 will be tight. However, Gaga's recent Grammy nominations -- she saw more than Rihanna or Katy Perry -- will certainly help her charting for the single.
Movers & Shakers: Rihanna and Calvin Harris hold number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with "We Found Love," while Michael Buble's holiday album, Christmas, claims the top spot on albums two weeks after being released. Nickelback settles for number two with Here And Now, and Rihanna's sixth album, Talk That Talk, debuts at number three.
Roman Is Back: Nicki Minaj's alternate ego, Roman, is back after Minaj's venture into pop territory for "Super Bass," The rapper-turned-pop-star who has turned her focus back to rap again released "Roman In Moscow" on Friday after some major teasing on Twitter. The track marks the first release from her new LP: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which is supposed to be released on Valentine's Day 2012.
The track itself sees Minaj return as the relentless Roman, who absolutely destroyed on the Pink Friday album track "Roman's Revenge" featuring Eminem as Slim Shady. The vengeful attitude continues on "Roman In Moscow," as Minaj spits some of her most vivid, fiercest raps yet: "Who's bad? I ain't on my period but I got a new pad," "Your favorite rapper probably suck/As for me, ice it, hockey puck," "Brace yourself, buck tooth... swallow balls, nuts too."
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