Monday, 3 October 2011

What Music Means To Me - Heavy Metal Lover: Testimony of a Little Monster

Before reading, I strongly recommend listening to the song attached to the bottom of this post. Partly to understand what I’m talking about, but mostly because it’s purely worth a listen!

After a week of intensive listening to Born This Way – an album which Worldwide, needs of course no introduction – I have to be honest; Heavy Metal Lover was probably the only song which didn’t completely grab me from the get-go.

The modest track 11, sandwiched between the magical Highway Unicorn (Road to Love) and that dark, progressive riff of Electric Chapel, categorised itself in my mind as merely a transitional track with a satisfying beat, absent of the strength the rest of the tracks on the album undoubtedly command. I felt each and every song on Born This Way held its own interesting, multi-layered character, so one night; I made the decision to single the song out and give it the attention it deserved – wondering if it could redeem itself as another Born This Way standout number.

To my surprise, not only did it achieve this title, but for me, surpassed every other message, lyric, and character Gaga has ever written. Sonically, the hook I’d hardly appreciated when listening to Born This Way as a whole, fast became my favourite on the album. It’s impossible for me now to not listen with my iPod (Lucky) on top volume, nodding my head to the rhythm and feeling my arms prickle with goosebumps when the chorus is in full swing, or the robotic bridge is cutting through the synths – like a woman desperate to sing, trapped in an existence of fame and machinery. It never fails to exhilarate me.

But, the precious connection I now feel to the song began due to something deeper. It all started around half-way through my first “real” listen. There, amidst the sledgehammer beat pinned with that dance pop hook, I heard the lyric “I could be your girl, but would you love me if I ruled the world?”

For reasons unknown at the time, those lyrics struck a chord. I was startled – these words didn’t echo the same strength and empowerment as the early verses did, our Mother Monster wasn’t singing about “red wine, cheap perfume, and a filthy pout” and an atmosphere of the dirty rock n’ roll underground. The rebellious confidence from “let’s make hell in the streets, drink beer, and get into trouble” had disappeared. Where had this question come from? It was… vulnerable. Honest. Almost as though… she was questioning the very purity of love in a relationship. Her relationship.

Would her man make the ultimate sacrifice to be with her?

Broken down, this what I feel she’s asking. And this is why I felt such a personal connection to not only the song, but the Lady herself. Would he give up all his masculine tendencies to be the best, the strongest, and the most successful, for her? Would he sacrifice the very thing which defines him as a true man – his ego – to become a martyr for their love?

Suddenly, Heavy Metal Lover took on an entirely new meaning. Through those lyrics, the true reason behind the track burst into life – just like the smallest and most subtle splash of paint can throw a picture from abstract into clarity. Subtlety is actually what makes Heavy Metal Lover so strong. On the surface, the song appears to be a simple dedication to a man – it gives us a dash of atmosphere, the feel of leather, and leaves the bitter taste of whiskey in the back of our throats. But when the words are picked apart, it becomes not a dedication, but a confusion of love and commitment.

As I’ve mentioned, strangely, it struck a chord. Mother Monster had managed to put an emotion into words and music which had been subconsciously playing on my own mind. And in that beautiful second, I felt connected to her on a level I didn’t quite expect – our insecurities. It was the moment which completely confirmed my level of being a “Little Monster” for the first time. Respect I’d always had, along with love and loyalty to her art, but a single song hadn’t touched me in a way which made me see her as… well, as like me.

In the world of Heavy Metal Lover, we both have wonderfully macho men who we love more than anything, with a taste for booze and heavy metal, and a tendency to break our hearts with every move. Sometimes we’re afraid of asking this question of complete and utter dedication, but through our insecurities still do, because at the end of the day, we know the truth. And that’s why we love to spend our weekends drinking beer and getting into trouble. 

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