The Edge of Glory

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"The Edge of Glory"
Single by Lady Gaga
from the album Born This Way
Released May 9, 2011 (2011-05-09)
Format
Recorded 2010; The Living Room Studios, Oslo, Norway
Genre
Length 5:20
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Lady Gaga
  • Fernando Garibay
Lady Gaga singles chronology
"Judas"
(2011)
"The Edge of Glory"
(2011)
"3-Way (The Golden Rule)"
(2011)

"The Edge of Glory" is a song by American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga, from her second studio album, Born This Way (2011). The song was released digitally on May 9, 2011, and was added to the United States mainstream radio playlists on May 17, 2011. Initially released as one of two promotional singles for Born This Way, it shortly became the third single for the album following its success in digital outlets worldwide. The song was produced by Gaga and Fernando Garibay and is a pop song that speaks of the very last moments of life. According to Gaga, lyrical inspiration came from the death of her grandfather, who died in September 2010. Alongside a saxophone solo played by Clarence Clemons, the melody of the song resembles much of the musical works of Bruce Springsteen, and contains several qualities similar to that of 1980s adult contemporary musical works.

"The Edge of Glory" received critical acclaim, with many reviewers deeming it as an album highlight. Much of the praise went to the song's chorus and the musical production. Reviewers also complimented Gaga's vocals, describing it as "soulful". The song was an international hit, charting in the top ten in several major music markets, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. In the United States, it peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Gaga's tenth consecutive top-ten single in the United States.

A music video for the song was filmed in late May, co-directed by the singer and her production team, Haus of Gaga. The video is simple in contrast to much of Gaga's previous work, and portrays her dancing on a fire-escape and walking on a lonely street. Differences include the lack of intricate choreography and back-up dancers, as well as using only one outfit designed by Versace. Critics lauded the simplicity of the video, while comparing it to the works of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Madonna. Gaga has performed the song in award shows, music festivals and events.

Background and inspiration[edit]

"The song was about how when my grandma was standing over my grandfather while he was dying. There was this moment where I felt like he had sort of looked at her and reckoned that he had won in life. Like, ‘I’m a champion. We won. Our love made us a winner.’ They were married 60 years. I thought about that idea, that the glorious moment of your life is when you decide that it’s okay to go, you don’t have any more words to say, more business, more mountains to climb. You’re on the cliff, you tip your hat to yourself and you go. That’s what it was for me in that moment when I witnessed it."

—Gaga talking to Jon Pareles of The New York Times about the song.[2]

"The Edge of Glory" was written by Lady Gaga, Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow, and was produced by Gaga and Garibay.[3] The origins of the song first came about in January 2011, when Gaga released part of the lyrics on her Twitter account.[4] White Shadow revealed that before they returned to Europe for the 2010 dates of The Monster Ball Tour, Gaga had taken leave for few days to be with her ailing grandfather. After he died, Gaga told White Shadow that she wrote a song about her grandfather's death, detailing the impact the event had on her.[5]

My grandpa died about five months ago, and my dad and I were going to say goodbye to him at the hospice, and I got out a big thing of agave tequila and my dad sat next to me at the piano and we started to doing shots back and forth, and I wrote 'Edge of Glory' on the piano and my dad and I cried..... [That] song can be played on the piano, but it's actually set to this giant, huge, techno rock, Springsteen-esque dance beat. I actually had Clarence Clemons from the E Street Band come in and play saxophone on it. It's fucking beautiful.

—Gaga talking to Google about "The Edge of Glory".[6]

More information in regards to "The Edge of Glory" was revealed by Gaga, in an interview with Google where she explained the song as being about one's final moments on earth, before a person dies.[6][7] Another inspiration for the song was actor Sylvester Stallone's 1976 film Rocky, which being Gaga's favorite film, she felt that the song was about looking at life directly, with the feeling that he or she is a champion—like the emotion displayed by the character Rocky Balboa in the film.[8]

On May 5, 2011, Interscope sent out an e-mail to radio stations across the United States, which stated that "The Edge of Glory" was to be released on Monday, May 9, 2011, as the first of two promotional singles for Born This Way. It was to serve as the first song in the "Countdown to Born This Way" promotion on the iTunes Store.[9] However, after its release to the digital stores, "The Edge of Glory" started selling a considerable amount of digital downloads, prompting Gaga to make it the third single from Born This Way.[10][11] On her Twitter account Gaga revealed the cover for the single.[4][12] It showed Gaga topless with her mouth open, wearing her facial prosthetics from the "Born This Way" cover, and her hair wildly cascading around her.[4][13]

Recording and composition[edit]

A 32-second sample of "The Edge of Glory" featuring the end of the chorus and the beginning of the bridge which contains the saxophone solo. Kevin O'Donnell of Spin compared the composition of the song with Pat Benatar's songs, Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (1983) and Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" (1981).[14]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"The Edge of Glory" features synthesizers executed in a style influenced by smooth jazz, as well as the inclusion of a saxophone solo.[15] The song is less electronic and more straightforward pop, and the lyrics deals more of romance than individual inspiration.[11][16] Garibay revealed that the song was recorded in Gaga's natural vocal tone, and required just one take. She requested him to add the sound of heartbeat at the start of the track. Garibay said that the decision to add a saxophone solo was a "bold move" for Gaga, since contemporary hit radio did not have any song with a saxophone solo on their song playlists.[17]

A pure pop song, "The Edge of Glory" opens with Gaga's vocals over a keyboard, singing the line: "There ain't no reason you and me should be alone tonight, yeah baby, tonight, yeah baby."[5][16] According to MTV's Jocelyn Vena, the song's production harkens back to late '80s, early '90s adult-contemporary pop, when big choruses were the norm for songs.[16] Jason Lipshultz from Billboard described it as "sunny electronica" that sounds big on the chorus, where Gaga sings "I'm on the edge of glory and I'm hanging on a moment of truth".[18] Evan Sawdey of the website PopMatters found several rock elements in the composition of the song.[19] Vena also felt that what made the song stand out from others on the radio was the saxophone solo by Clemons right in the middle of the track, as Gaga belts out, "I'm on the edge with you."[16] Robert Copsey from Digital Spy said that the musical composition is a mixture of loud-sounding electric guitars and club-beat influenced synths.[20]

Clarence Clemons from E Street Band played saxophone on "The Edge of Glory".

The song ends with a long coda, with the sound of the saxophone fading out.[2] Gaga stated during her interview with NME that she is perpetually unhappy with what she creates. Even though she felt that "The Edge of Glory" is a pop masterpiece, when the recording and mixing of the song was completed, there were things in the composition that she dreaded, and every time she listened to it, she would hear them. Peter Robinson, who interviewed Gaga, clarified the song as a mixture of dance-pop and electro-rock elements, which he believed was enhanced by Clemons.[21] According to sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "The Edge of Glory" is written in common time with a tempo of 128 beats per minute. Set in the key of A major, it follows the basic chord progression of A–E–D for the verse and A–E–Fm–D progression for the chorus, while Gaga's voice spans from A3 to D5[22]

Gaga's references for the saxophone solo was E Street Band and Bruce Springsteen and for her it represented "the isolation in the music dichotomy, [representing] the whole spectrum of music."[17] She ultimately decided to ask Clarence Clemons from E Street Band to play the instrument. Clemons told Rolling Stone that in January 2011, he was putting together an exercise machine in his Florida house when his wife told him that Gaga's people were on the phone, and they wanted him to play on her upcoming album. Since the call was on a Friday, Clemons replied that he could record it on the coming Monday or Tuesday, but Gaga was adamant to have him at the New York recording studio on that day itself. Clemons flew from Florida to New York, and reached the recording studio in Manhattan at midnight.[23] Gaga wanted him to play saxophone on multiple tracks, one of them being "The Edge of Glory". She simply told Clemons, "We'll put the tape on and you just play. Play from your heart. Play what you feel." The recording concluded by three o'clock in the morning after a few takes. Clemons added that he was surprised to be "getting paid for this." He added, "I would have done it for free. I can never believe something that feels so good earns me money."[5][23]

Critical reception[edit]

"It's the perfect lead-in to closer 'The Edge of Glory,' which sounds exactly like its title, uniting all of Gaga's contradictory impulses in an ecstatic, anthemic, five-minute lunge to the finish line – there's strings and synths, Eurodisco beats and saxophone solos, love and death."

—Caryn Ganz of Spin talking about "The Edge of Glory"[24]

The Edge of Glory was met with general acclaim from commentators. An hour before kicking off the final leg of The Monster Ball Tour, Gaga sent four tracks to Rolling Stone, including "Scheiße", "You and I", and "Hair", to have an advance preview. Matthew Perpetua wrote a positive review from the song: "This one sounds crazy in print [...], but somehow it all seems totally natural when you actually hear it." Perpetua added that there is an element of cheesiness in the song, but nevertheless, it is captivating and catchy when one listens to it. He complimented the inclusion of Clemons as an "inspired touch that amplifies the song's eighties stadium rock vibe," and Clemons' actual performance was described as amazing and among the best of his career.[7] In another review, Perpetua noted that "The Edge of Glory" is "an immediate pop anthem, with soaring hooks and romantic, life-affirming lyrics." He also theorized that the song had potential to be a huge summer hit.[25] Fellow Rolling Stone journalist Jody Rosen complimented the hook, the chorus and Clemens' saxophone playing on the song.[26] Jocelyn Vena from MTV asserted that the song showed a softer side to Gaga, as opposed to her previous singles for Born This Way.[16] Willa Paskin from New York was impressed with the track, saying: " If the first two tracks off the forthcoming Born This Way were all jangly dance-rock, this is as smooth as an eighties jam straight off the Flashdance soundtrack, and it has the saxophone breakdown to prove it." Paskin also believed that the song had potential to be a summer hit, but could face competition from Katy Perry's single "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)".[27]

Gaga performing "The Edge of Glory" during The Born This Way Ball in 2012

Rick Fulton, while writing in the Daily Record, compared it to Dr. Alban's 1992 single "It's My Life" and called it as power-pop with influences of Gaga's previous single "Alejandro" (2010).[28] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard wrote that "The Edge of Glory" "glorifies risk-taking, [but] it's focused on romance rather than individual inspiration."[18] Lewis Corner of Digital Spy awarded the song with five out of five stars and wrote:"'I'm on the edge of glory/ And I'm hanging on a moment with you,' GaGa belts over a chorus tastier and more filling than a meatball sub – stuffed with stadium-sized beats and massive techno synths; while the side of sax solo courtesy of the late Clarence Clemons is bound to seduce many a clubber into bringing out their rarely-used-nowadays air sax. Unlike the LP's trailer, GaGa has created a heartfelt club anthem loaded with enough raw emotion to outweigh her current Euro-cheese leanings – shame about the video, though."[29] Kevin O'Donnell of Spin noted that in the song, Gaga "goes back to basics." He also called the song a "four-on-the-floor anthem with loads of references to '80s pop music" and concluded "Thankfully, 'Edge of Glory' proves Gaga hasn't let her global celebrity get the best of her art, and she's still capable to cranking out straightforward, dance-ready jams like 'Just Dance' or 'Poker Face.'"[14] Both Andy Gill of The Independent and James Reed of The Boston Globe praised Clarence Clemons' saxophone solo in "The Edge of Glory".[30][31]

Nardine Saad from Los Angeles Times asserted that "The Edge of Glory" was less shock-provoking than her previous releases. Saad also felt that the track was slower and less electro in its composition than "Judas", her then current single.[32] Amy Sciarretto from Artistdirect.com gave a positive review saying that the song will push the listener to the edge of the dancefloor. She complimented Gaga's vocals, saying that she "[filled] the room with her voice, her spirit and her danceability."[33] Likewise, Priya Elan of NME wrote that the song felt like a "pop moment" without Gaga trying too hard to address social issues or religious conflicts; Elan also complimented Clemons' saxophone addition.[34] Similar sentiments were expressed by fellow NME writer Dan Martin, who found the track to be gleaming, calling it the "most ecstatic pop serenade" Gaga has ever come up with.[35] Robert Copsey from Digital Spy commented that the song is a "straight-up fists-in-the-air feel-good anthem that is less cheesy than 'Born This Way' but equally (if not more) euphoric." However, he found similarity in the opening bar of the song with that of Cher's 2002 single "Song for the Lonely".[20] Megan Gibson from Time was disappointed with the single, feeling that it was not "particularly good". Gibson added that the song was not on par with Gaga's previous releases, and called the music as trite, uninspiring and bland.[36] Matthew Cole from Slant Magazine was polarized with the song, stating that while it lowered his expectations for the album, he expressed that the saxophone solo was "admittedly a high point, and one of the more original ideas that Gaga has had of late."[37] Sal Cinquemani, from the same publication, felt that the song "isn't retro so much as retrograde, starting off with some crafty Art of Noise synth tones before morphing into what sounds like the theme song to an early-'90s sitcom, or an inspirational sports flick, as sung by Bonnie Tyler."[38] Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune also gave a mixed review about the song, calling it a "Springsteen-on-steroids bombast" and adding that it features "Clarence Clemons doing almost a parody of a Clarence Clemons sax solo."[39] "The Edge of Glory" is nominated in the category for Song of the Year at the 38th People's Choice Awards.[40]

At the end of 2011, Slant Magazine listed "The Edge of Glory" as the eighth best song of the year, with Ed Gonzalez from the website commenting that the song is "a study in radical contrast that, once you sift aside its deliberately dated effects and the legacy of the late Clarence Clemons, is deep down an incredibly delicate ballad. Yes, everyone expects Gaga to make her confessions on the dance floor, but who knew she could make her shouts whisper?"[41] It was placed at the same rank by Billboard, and at position seven by Rolling Stone.[42][43]

In September 2013, the saxophone solo ranked No. 2 on the VH1 list of the 15 Greatest Guest Solos in Rock History.[44]

Chart performance[edit]

Gaga performing an acoustic version of "The Edge of Glory" on Europride 2011

In the United States, "The Edge of Glory" debuted at number 31 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart, for the issue dated May 28, 2011.[45] It also debuted at number two on the Hot Digital Songs chart, with sales of 266,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[46] The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number three, and the Radio Songs chart at number 54, with 20 million audience impressions. Gaga became the first artist since Mariah Carey to have her first ten singles enter the top ten of the Hot 100.[47] The next week, "The Edge of Glory" moved up to number 18 on Pop Songs, becoming the greatest gainer of the week.[48] However, digital sales dropped by 64% to 98,000 copies, hence the song fell to number 19 on the Hot 100. Nevertheless as the song rose to number 37 on the Radio Songs chart, airplay increased to 30 million audience impressions.[49] In its third week on the chart, "The Edge of Glory" was again the greatest gaining song on the Pop Songs chart and reached number 14, while debuting at number 33 on the Adult Pop Songs chart.[50] It was also the greatest gaining digital song, selling 165,000 copies, with overall airplay increasing to 39 million audience impressions, subsequently resulting in the song re-entering the top-ten of the Hot 100 at number eight.[51]

"The Edge of Glory" continued its rise in airplay by moving to number 15 on Radio Songs chart with 51 million impressions, while becoming her second fastest rise to the top ten in Pop Songs chart, following the title track from Born This Way. It sold another 166,000 digital downloads, moving up to number seven on the Hot 100 and number 14 on Adult Pop Songs, while debuting at number 46 on Hot Dance Club Songs.[52][53] The song reached a peak of number four on Radio Songs, number three on Pop Songs, number one on Hot Dance Club Songs, number seven on Adult Contemporary and number two on Adult Pop Songs.[54] "The Edge of Glory" sold 2.325 million digital copies in 2011 and became the 29th best-selling song of the year in the United States.[55] As of August 2013, it has sold 2,860,000 digital downloads in the US according to Nielsen SoundScan.[56]

"The Edge of Glory" debuted at number three on the Canadian Hot 100 and entered on the Canadian Hot Digital Songs chart at number two, selling 26,000 digital downloads. It was the top debuting song on the contemporary hit radio chart of Canada, at number 42.[57] After four weeks, the song re-entered the top ten of the Canadian Hot 100, and reached the top ten of the contemporary hit radio chart.[58] In the United Kingdom, "The Edge of Glory" debuted at number six on the UK Singles Chart.[59] After fluctuating down the charts for few weeks, the song rebounded in the top ten on June 26, 2011. Its digital sales increased by 89.1%, helped by the performance of the song on Paul O'Grady Live, which was telecast on three occasions. The telecast also helped in the radio airplay of the song, where it moved up the chart to reach a peak of eleven.[60] As of February 2014, the song has sold 580,000 copies in the UK, and is certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).[61]

In Australia, it debuted at number 11 on the ARIA Singles Chart and in New Zealand it debuted at number three on the RIANZ Singles Chart.[62] After eleven weeks, the song was certified double platinum and gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), for shipment of 140,000 and 7,500 copies of the single, respectively.[62][63] In Ireland, "The Edge of Glory" debuted at number 10 on the Irish Singles Chart, on May 13, 2011, and reached a peak of four.[64][65] It also debuted at number 19 in Finland,[66] and at number five on the Spanish Singles Chart.[67] In France, the song debuted at number seven on the French Singles Chart.[68] In Germany, the song debuted on the Media Control Charts at number 28, and reached a peak of three.[69] "The Edge of Glory" sold 44,176 digital downloads in South Korea, to debut at number two on the Gaon International Online Chart on May 22, 2011, and moved to the top of the chart the next week, with further sales of 48,937 copies.[70]

Music video[edit]

Background[edit]

At the BMI Pop Music Awards, Gaga's choreographer Laurieann Gibson said that they would be filming the music video for "The Edge of Glory" soon. While she did not reveal much about the music video concept, she added: "I just know that we’ll be feeling very fishy."[71] Gaga told MTV UK that she had already written the treatment for the video, adding that it's her favorite; she concluded by saying that her production team was not ready for shooting yet.[8] E! Online reported that a casting call for the video was made, where the agents looked for a Puerto Rican or Dominican origin male. Other roles included a male or female on-air reporter, a doctor role reminiscent to the one in the American show Dr. 90210, and a group of military men for scenes involving rifles.[72] The music video director was confirmed as Joseph Kahn, but Interscope Records later confirmed that Kahn and Gaga parted ways due to collaborative misunderstandings. Gibson confirmed that there was "some issues on the set", which resulted in Kahn being replaced as the director.[73] Gaga's creative team Haus of Gaga were later chosen to direct the video instead: "One canvas, one paintbrush. Respect the art. Very simple rule with me."[74] Chancler Haynes, Kahn's on-set editor revealed that the mermaid-themed performance of the song, on Le Grand Journal was the actual theme of the video, and included sets built for a hospital scene, Brooklyn Bridge, and a big underwater mermaid scene.[74] However, at the last minute before shooting, Gaga changed her mind regarding the whole concept, leading to a disagreement with Kahn, and hence it was cancelled. She then shot the scenes with Clarence Clemons in the New York City set.[74] The music video premiered on June 16, 2011, on the eighth season of US reality television show, So You Think You Can Dance.[75] During a promotional campaign for Born This Way in Singapore, Gaga talked about the inspiration behind the video:

I wanted to create my sweater set of a video. I wanted to create something that was truly indicative of how I feel about my life right now, which is only after being out for two to three years. I used to dream when I was twelve or thirteen years old that someday I would get to wear Gianni Versace. I would look on the walls at the posters of all the legends that I worshiped and that I could someday make an impact on the Universe the way they did. And I had a fire-escape! Outside my teeny-tiny apartment in New York, and I would put on all my clothes, and go outside on the fire-escape and I would dance. I would play David Bowie, and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Madonna etc. So I had this whole elaborate video planned for 'The Edge of Glory', but once I got out on the fire-escape and I danced in that one outfit, I realized that it was time to just have a moment to acknowledge myself, as a 25-year old who has been working so hard from the bottom of my heart. What does it feel like to be on your edge of glory?[76]

Synopsis[edit]

Gaga's wardrobe throughout the entire video primarily consists of only one outfit which was designed by Gianni Versace. The dress consists of a S&M inspired outfit, with heavy gold jewelry, studs on the leather, and vibrant nail polish and lipstick. Notable in the video is the absence of back-up dancers, elaborate choreography, or a symbolic plot: components that have all been predominant in Gaga's other music videos. Aside from Gaga herself, Clemons is the only other person to appear in the video.[77]

The video begins with Gaga slowly appearing from behind a building on a deserted street corner. The whole scenario is bathed in red and violet lights, coming from the windows of the buildings and alleyways as steam billows out from the drains. When the first verse of the song begins, Gaga emerges from the window of an apartment onto the fire escape. A long take follows, of Gaga strutting through the red-lit district singing the line "I got a reason that you should take me home tonight", and a shock of black hair falls in her eyes. Gaga does not remove it and the shot spans to her walking backside, gesturing the viewer to follow.[77] The video consists mostly of interchanging shots of Gaga dancing and singing on the street, on the fire escape, and on the steps in front of the apartment building with Clemons. Near the end of the video, after Clemons' saxophone solo, Gaga crouches in front of the building's steps and kisses the sidewalk. The video concludes with a close-up of Gaga's face, before she re-enters through the window into her smokey apartment.

Reception[edit]

Several critics opined that some scenes in the music video were reminiscent to Madonna's music video for "Papa Don't Preach", and Michael Jackson's music video for "Billie Jean".

Both Jocelyn Vena from MTV and Christian Blauvelt from Entertainment Weekly commented on the similarity of the music video with the Broadway musical, Rent.[78] Vena also compared the visual aspects of the video with those for Madonna's 1986 single "Papa Don't Preach" and Michael Jackson's 1984 single, "Billie Jean". She concluded by saying that the music video "still manages to shine, mostly because of its simplicity."[78] In another review, James Montgomery from MTV, also found similarities between the video and the musicals Rent and West Side Story.[79] Blauvelt was initially surprised to see the simplistic approach Gaga undertook in the video, since her previous videos have been provocating in one way or another. Comparisons ranged from the music video of Gaga's 2009 single "LoveGame" to the eighties revues. Blauvelt added in the end that the video seemed a clear homage to Gaga's inspirations like Madonna, concluding that "all the references in 'The Edge of Glory' are so overt, there’s no way it could be shameless cribbing. It has to be a winking homage to the artists, songs, and videos that meant a lot to Gaga growing up—like a college-student who brings his action figures to his dorm."[80] The Daily Mail was more critical of the video, feeling that Gaga had again copied Madonna's look, this time the imagery she adorned in the 1987 film, Who's That Girl. They also compared the scenes, where Gaga lies on the pavement while arching her body outwards, to the 1983 musical, Flashdance.[81] Jarett Wieselman from New York Post tried to understand what actually went wrong with the production, and came to the conclusion that the mutual disagreements between Gaga and Kahn led to the video being a "piece of rubbish". He deemed the whole issue surrounding the production as "foolish", in the end agreeing that "it was foolish of us to expect that GaGa would never stumble because, despite the preternatural image constantly presented, she is only human after all."[74]

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine gave the video a positive review, calling it a "visual triumph," with "breathtaking" art direction, and a "gray-blue-black color palette carefully calibrated by Gaga's vibrant lipstick and nail polish, a red painted stripe on the curb, and the gold of her jewelry and the studs on her leather, not to mention Clarence Clemons's brass." The video was compared to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel," Janet Jackson's "When I Think of You" and "The Pleasure Principle", and the film, Crimes of Passion, all of them being 1980s videos and films. He did, however, criticize Gaga's "half-convincing" lip-synching.[77] Writing for The Washington Post, Sarah Anne Hughes called the video "shockingly simple".[82] Rolling Stone '​s Daniel Kreps gave a mixed review of the video, calling the song "over-the-top" with a "lackluster" and "understated" video. He complimented the 1980s visual feel to the video, but criticized that "there's not much more to the video", and felt that it spent far too much time lingering on shots of Gaga dancing around on a fire escape and prancing down the street. Clarence Clemons' limited role in the video was also criticized, especially since according to him, Gaga and her fans love Clemons.[83] Peter Robinson of Popjustice gave the video a negative review, stating that it was "complete shit" and that "we just need to accept that Gaga has released an awful video."[84] Dose magazine's Leah Collins was more neutral in her review, questioning if Gaga was simply "swooning with nostalgia for other pop culture nuggets that have featured the same NYC backdrop of fire escapes and brown-stone steps" or just attempting to "be saving a metric buttload on the budget."[85] Collins commented on the missing sets for a hospital scene, Brooklyn Bridge, and a big underwater mermaid scene, feeling that it would have made the video definitely better.[85] While reviewing the video for The Vancouver Sun, Collins compared Gaga's look in the video to a "hooker" from the 1982 American science fiction film, Blade Runner.[86] Amos Barshad from New York liked the straight approach Gaga took with the video, and although he called it boring compared to Gaga's previous efforts, he felt the video worked well because of the simplicity.[87]

Live performances[edit]

Gaga performing "The Edge of Glory" at ARQ Nightclub, a Sydney gay bar.

Gaga performed an acoustic-jazz version of the song at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria on May 15, 2011. During the song, she revealed that her record company had told her to keep new material to a minimum, but she said she wanted to air the track in full.[88] "Well, I was told not to do this, but I don't give a shit. We put this new song out just as a surprise to give you a little taste of the album before it comes out [...] because i want everyone to hear that the album's very deep," she added.[89][90] Another piano version of the song was performed on May 21, 2011, at the season finale of Saturday Night Live, where Gaga wore a metallic black dress, knee-high boots and a semi-circular metallic headdress.[91] The full version was performed at the final show of American Idol on May 25, 2011, where she was joined by Clemons in person. Gaga appeared perched atop a mountain top on the "Idol" stage, dressed in a long cape and a bedazzled headpiece draped with hanging chains. A trio of dancers were at the base of the set performing choreographed dance steps while Gaga belted high above them.[92] She removed the cape and headpiece after the song's first verse, revealing a bikini ensemble, with a flowing blond wig and an oversize cross on her head. The stage was bathed in deep blue light, and she played a piano.[92] She was joined on top by So You Think You Can Dance contestant Mark Kanemura, who appeared on the edge shirtless, as Clemons started playing the saxophone.[93] Gaga and her dancer friend, who were laid out at the top of the set during Clemons' sax intermission, rose to their feet during the song's final chorus.[92] As Gaga sang, "I'm on the edge of glory/ And I'm hanging on a moment with you," they held hands as they moved to the edge of the platform. They embraced, took a breath and then jumped off the edge of the stage, landing out of sight, behind a bed of fake rocks. Steam shot up high in the air and the curtain closed with the end of the performance.[92] Len Melisurgo from The Star-Ledger felt that the performance was too "sexually suggestive" for the audience of American Idol and wondered whether Gaga "went just a little too far for a family-oriented show that's geared toward a younger audience?"[94] Conversely, Adam Graham from MTV News listed it as one of Gaga's most memorable television performances.[92] Monica Herrera from Billboard listed it as the fourth best performance of the night, and felt that Gaga "channeled Bruce Springsteen" in her personality.[95]

On May 27, 2011, Gaga performed "The Edge of Glory" on Good Morning America as a part of their "Summer Concert Series". She wore a black ensemble, a black masquerade mask and black lace veil. In the middle of the song she removed the veil, displaying her patterned leather jacket and spikes on her shoulder.[96] At the sixth cycle of Germany's Next Topmodel, Gaga performed the song on the final show. She was dressed in fishnet tights, knickers, a teal colored bob-cut wig and an asymmetric cape billowing behind her. The performance included a segment where Gaga was portrayed as getting beheaded in a guillotine. Gaga then jumped up with a prosthetic head held aloft, before snarling towards the judges, including Heidi Klum: "I would kill for fashion".[97] The whole show was broadcast worldwide on the internet.[98] An acoustic version was later performed at the Europride 2011 in Rome, along with "Born This Way".[99] At the X Factor show in Paris, Gaga performed it along with "Judas". She wore a fringed dress with long hair extensions and a long blue wig, while playing a keytar.[100] At the French television show, Le Grand Journal, a mermaid themed performance of "The Edge of Glory" was televised.[74] Gaga re-created the New York City fire escape sets for the performance of the song on the Paul O'Grady Live show. Ryan Love of Digital Spy had an advance preview of the recording of the show, and complimented the choreography by Gaga and her dancer, during the saxophone interlude.[101] Gaga opened the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards with a performance of the song, sporting a bejeweled catsuit and a bob teal colored wig.[102] While on tour in Japan, Gaga performed "The Edge of Glory" and "Born This Way" at the 2011 MTV Video Music Aid Japan. Gaga was dressed in a sparkly sequined bra and long skirt with a split up each thigh. Her hair was braided and put into two buns atop her head. She started the performance while hanging from a giant spider web, with her aquamarine hair extensions stuck in it. Beginning to sing, Gaga pulled and tugged at the web, and ultimately broke free to join her dancers as she finished the performance.[103] On October 16, 2011 she performed the song during a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles for the Clinton Foundation.[104] She performed the song as the encore to her 2012 Born This Way Ball Tour in which she plays the beginning of the song on piano atop a watch tower. She then proceeds by romantically dancing with one of her male dances and descends to stage level.

Cover versions[edit]

American pop singer Nick Jonas sang an acoustic version of the song in July during his concert at the Westfield Century City in Los Angeles.[105] Before the performance Jonas announced: "Do you guys mind if I play a couple of songs I like from pop radio right now? Would that be OK? The only problem is, I don't know all the words. So if you know them, sing along."[105] After watching the performance online, Gaga posted his cover on her Twitter account along with the words "Swoon! Nick Jonas singing The Edge of Glory. On my way to press conference in Taichung, listening to it. So dreamy! X."[105] British band Friendly Fires covered the song during BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge.[106] Kevin O'Donnell of Spin praised their cover writing: "Gaga's original showcases the pop star's gale force pipes, and Friendly Fires frontman Ed Macfarlane doesn't try to match that energy. Instead, they offer a lovely, cinematic take on the song: Macfarlane croons with the heart-on-sleeve sensitivity of an emo-boy over cascading synth melodies and a breezy funk pulse. Nice!"[107]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "The Edge of Glory" – 5:20
  1. "The Edge of Glory" (Radio Edit) – 4:20
  2. "The Edge of Glory" (Cahill Club Mix) – 7:26
  • The Edge of Glory – The Remixes[110]
  1. "The Edge of Glory" (Sultan & Ned Shepard Remix) – 6:34
  2. "The Edge of Glory" (Funkagenda Remix) – 7:53
  3. "The Edge of Glory" (Bare Noize Remix) – 3:48
  4. "The Edge of Glory" (Porter Robinson Remix) – 6:40
  5. "The Edge of Glory" (Cahill Club Remix) – 7:27
  6. "The Edge of Glory" (Foster the People Remix) – 6:10

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Born This Way album liner notes.[111]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[140] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[141] Gold 7,500^
Italy (FIMI)[142] Platinum 60,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[143] Gold 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[63] Gold 7,500*
Sweden (GLF)[144] Platinum 40,000x
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[145] Gold 15,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[146] Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[147] 2,860,000[56]
Ringtone
Japan (RIAJ)[143] Gold 100,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format
United States[9] May 9, 2011 Digital download
United Kingdom[9]
South Korea[148] May 10, 2011
Italy[149] May 13, 2011 Airplay
Brazil[150] May 16, 2011 Digital download
United States[151] May 17, 2011 Mainstream radio
Germany[109] July 8, 2011 CD single
Italy[152] July 12, 2011
United States[110] Digital download – The Remixes
United Kingdom[153] July 19, 2011 CD single
Poland[154] July 22, 2011
Taiwan[155]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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