The fifth single from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way is “Marry The Night,” an ode to the time of day that’s seized the imaginations of countless pop stars—it’s got darkness, mystery, cooler temperatures, more opportunties for steam-borne drama, and so forth. Gaga has proven herself to be a master student of the pop idols she held up as a starry-eyed icon-in-training, and like many of the other songs on BTW, “Night” works in large part because of the way it synthesizes pop tropes from the past, not just lyrically (there are references to not crying, drinking whiskey, and wearing leather and denim) but sonically. Below, a video of Gaga performing the song on the UK X Factor this weekend, and six songs that could have served as its nocturnally minded inspiration.
Lady Gaga, “Marry The Night” (live on The X Factor)
6. Benny Mardones, “Into The Night”
If Gaga goes the Serious Artiste route and totally drops the dance beats for a version of “Night,” don’t be surprised if it sounds as fraught as this ’80s-spanning hit from Syracuse’s biggest pop star. (She could even emulate his scaling the Hot 100 with the same song twice and release the slowed-down version as a separate single a few years from now!)
5. Murray Head, “One Night In Bangkok”
A pop-crossover hit from a musical? That was co-written by two members of ABBA? Even if this song’s influence on “Marry” isn’t direct, it’s still present. (Also, Gaga’s precise-to-a-fault enunciation on “Judas” and “Scheiße” has to be at least partially inspired by Head’s chatter here.)
4. 10,000 Maniacs, “Because The Night”
In honor of the Springsteen influence that’s all over Born This Way. Plus, you know, the night belongs to lovers! Just don’t let them poke holes in the car seats with their heels.
3. Fleetwood Mac, “Tango In The Night”
Hit the 2:07 mark and you’ll hear a combination of guitar crunch and Buckingham wailing that would sound excellent dropped in to some sort of mix/mashup with “Marry.” Actually, these songs would sound great blended together—that guitar coda could very easily loop around Gaga’s wailing over her impending nuptials with the evening…
2. Céline Dion, “I Drove All Night”
Not the Cyndi Lauper version, mainly because the bridge on “Marry” matches the increasing stridency of the bridge on Céline’s “Drove” cover almost note for note—until the end, anyway. What if Gaga had, like Céline, gone up the scale a couple of notes instead of retreating before the pummeling house beat took over? Would there be more tension or less? Would the night file for divorce papers? We’ll never know (at least until the fourth deluxe edition of Born This Way comes out).
1. Jennifer Lopez, “Waiting For Tonight”
When I first heard “Marry,” I thought it sounded it had been time-warped from WKTU’s playlist circa 1999—which was the year this single made its way onto not just the dance charts, but the pop charts. Gaga definitely has a stronger voice than Lopez, for whom “reedy” might be a compliment. But these two songs are well-matched as far as their ability to pummel the dancefloor into submission goes.