Lady Gaga Premieres Haunting New Song
On September 18th, Lady Gaga officially released her new single, “Til It Happens to You,” to the acclaim of critics and fans everywhere. Unlike the theatrical and flamboyant songs that Lady Gaga is known for, “Til It Happens to You,” which was written for the documentary film “The Hunting Ground,” serves as a blunt and haunting public service announcement on the issue of sexual abuse on college campuses.
The song is comprised of Lady Gaga backed by a largely string-based orchestra. Preceded by a brief violin solo, Lady Gaga begins by addressing some of the mantras commonly repeated to victims of sexual assault, such as “it gets better”. The orchestra begins to increase its pace and volume, and the song rapidly gains intensity, culminating in a series of choruses and versus stating that until a person’s world is ripped apart, they cannot even begin to understand the nightmare and subsequent struggle of the victim. The song concludes with a repetition of “Happens to you,” followed by, “You won’t know how I feel.”
Accompanying “Til It Happens to You,” is a music video, even more haunting and heart-wrenching than the song itself. The music video tastefully portrays several graphic scenes, beginning with a series of girls interacting with various future-attackers. The girls range from completely sober, to a little drunk, to soon-to-be drugged and passed out. As the music and singing accelerate and intensify, the victims are seen being sexually assaulted, with varying intensities. As these scenes close and the song’s bridge approaches, the victims are seen suffering from depression, with images of negative phrases written on their arms. As the bridge is reached and transitions into the final chorus, the victims, both male and female, are seen with their friends surrounding them. They try to help the victims begin a return to normalcy, beginning with the words on the victims’ arms becoming positive messages. The video concludes with the victims marching down a hallway in a residential building with each other and their friends. After the music stops, the video states that one in every five woman on a college campus will be sexually assaulted this year unless a change is made.
“Til It Happens to You” is the most important song of the year, successfully tackling one of the most difficult issues to discuss--sexual assault--and initiating the conversation that many try to avoid. Lady Gaga brilliantly shines a light on one of society’s biggest, yet least discussed problems. “Til It Happens to You” and its music video are essential parts of the conversation we need to be having, and are a good first step towards publicizing and eliminating sexual assault for good.