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Lady Gaga Drives a DeLorean to ‘The Edge of Glory’

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The year was 1985: It was hip to be square and totally cool to jam saxophone solos into your pop songs. We were "Invincible" because we had recently endured a "Total Eclipse of the Heart." It is a time Lady Gaga cannot remember fondly because she was not actually alive. However, her latest Born This Way single "The Edge of Glory" is a pretty awesome approximation of what it sounded like to attend a middle school dance during America's gnarliest decade. This instantly lovable track -- the first truly well-constructed BTW song yet -- arrives just a few days after her non-troversial video for "Judas" fell flat. Well played, Lady Gaga. Well played.

Gaga cowrote "The Edge of Glory" with Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow, and recruited E Street Band sax man Clarence Clemons to blow a superfluous solo at the 3:02 mark, which frankly only serves to put us in a "New York State of Mind." But the song's a winner because it's a fastball straight down the plate -- no tricks, no gimmicks, just a heartfelt vocal, an anthemic melody, and enough of a glimmering backbeat to get the room moving. Even its name seems engineered to be nostalgic, simultaneously recalling "Edge of Seventeen," "Glory Days," and "Blaze of Glory."

Compared to glitter grenade "Born This Way" and the manic "Judas," "The Edge of Glory" is a fantastic piece of songwriting that shows off Gaga's fondness for the history of pop. Now the only question is how these pieces fit into the rest of the very bizarre Born This Way puzzle. 

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