E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons appears in the video pre-stroke.
By James Montgomery
Remember, for a while there, when everyone was complaining that Lady Gaga's videos had, perhaps, gotten too big, too arty, too obtuse? That maybe the hype surrounding each clip's premiere overshadowed the clip itself? Well, for the foreseeable future, those criticisms can be put to rest.
Because on Thursday (June 16), Gaga premiered her brand-new video for "The Edge of Glory," a piece that's a little bit Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," a little bit Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and a whole lot of " '80s videos where someone dances on a fire escape while smoke pours from a well-lit window."
There is no hyperkinetic, women-in-prison kink, no odes to Weimar Germany and no birthing of a machine gun. Shoot, there's not even a single Christian allegory to be seen (OK, maybe one, when Gaga strikes a Christ-like pose on the concrete).
Instead, "Edge" is little more than five-and-a-half minutes of classic pop, brimming with imagery, style (and moves) that could've been lifted from millions of videos in the pop heyday of the 1980s. It is Gaga's free-spirited youth in New York's East Village, only reimagined on a Hollywood level (in another nod to the videos of yesteryear, it makes no attempt to hide the fact that it was clearly shot on a "New York"-styled backlot): She sashays and struts on a fire escape, descends to the perfectly foggy, still-wet streets of the city, and poses on the front steps of her apartment building, while none other than Clarence Clemons hits a note-perfect saxophone solo. It is a fantasy in every conceivable way, and if it reminds you of something you've seen before, well, that's because you probably did — not just in '80s vids, but in films like "Fame" and Broadway hits like "Rent," too — and chances are you loved it.
And while all the feel-good nostalgia is dampened a bit by the very of the moment drama surrounding the video (Clemons is currently recovering from a stroke he suffered over the weekend), "Edge of Glory" still manages to shine, mostly because of its simplicity. You wanted a straightforward, dance-till-you-drop, unabashedly-indebted video from Lady Gaga? Well, now you've got one. It's not a stretch to call it a classic, mostly because, well, it is — at least in its inspirations. And its aspirations too.
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