ARTPOP Review: Mary Jane Holland

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If I could travel back in time, I’d advise the me from two weeks ago not to listen to the snippet of ‘Mary Jane Holland’. I’d stop wars and prevent tragedies aswell ofcourse, but as far as music is concerned, that sample was almost criminal. What we have here is a song that has such an encompassing atmosphere that to slice it apart like a Lady Gaga Cake should be punishable be the lady herself aiming her AK at your fitted cap. We’ll forgive her though; like a kid at Christmas, she just couldn’t help herself and it’s easy to see why – we’re talking about one of the best songs on ARTPOP here.

Sonically, ‘Mary Jane Holland’ is closest to the material of the Born This Way campaign. It has a pop heart but is coated with a filthy, dark production. As the verses smash their way out from the intro, the song transforms into yet another set of sledgehammering beats taking in addictive hook after addictive hook. ‘Mary Jane Holland’ also possesses one of the best middle eights in Gaga’s career. Her voice matches the soaring instrumental with her inner rock chick slipping in some rasps of passion during the highest notes. Beneath it lies a dubstep vibe that emits a threatening rumble – an effective drone of sound that trudges along under the weight of their own power. As one of many songs on ARTPOP mentioning drugs, this song does it best. Clever metaphors dotted throughout put it a cut above the redundant references in ‘Dope’ – it’s also a lot more radio-oriented thanks to it’s wealth of double meanings. After all, it’s just a song about a girl called Mary….right?

As per usual, Gaga is not messing about when it comes to the ear-shattering beats that have come to characterise her sound either – this track is fuelled by them. The bridge is enough to get the adrenaline pumping but with a chant-along post-chorus and infectious lead refrain on top of it all, ‘Mary Jane Holland’ cements it’s place as one of the instantly affecting moments from the record.

Words: Simon McMurdo


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