Is this a cult? Closer to the edge – 30 Seconds To Mars

To look at the lyrics click here, for the official video here.

I like it when family members come together to make music, be it on Christmas Eve or other occasions. I think that’s a nice custom, it’s beautiful and moving.

I wouldn’t call it moving though, what brothers Shannon and Jared Leto are doing together with their band “30 Seconds To Mars”. Quite a creative and somehow cryptic name, isn’t it? Until not so long ago I would have assumed this to be a science-fiction novel rather than a band name.

With their song “Closer to the edge” they landed a major hit at the beginning of 2010. The lyrics of this song appear to be somewhat cryptic, too. Let’s have a look.

I don’t remember the moment, I tried to forget. I lost myself, it’s better not said, now I’m closer to the edge.” He doesn’t seem to know since when he has been feeling closer to the edge – and we don’t learn anything about the reason. “It was a thousand to one and a million to two. Time to go down in flames and I’m taking you closer to the edge”.  Is he talking about the chances of a relationship being as bad as 1000:1 or 2 Mio:2? Or is it about a game, a bet that has been lost – but who are the parties? It is all very mysterious.

There seems to be an accusation pending, the demand to say sorry for something. But no: “No I’m not saying I’m sorry.” At least there is a conciliatory hope: “One day, maybe we’ll meet again.” The introductory statement in the official video sets on the ideas that many fans certainly love about this song: “Don’t regret anything you do, ’cause in the end it makes you who you are“.

Even if until now one could have the impression that he is talking about an unhappy relationship, from the second verse on things get more and more enigmatic.

Can you imagine a time when the truth ran free, the birth of a sun, the death of a dream?“

This definitely reminds me of the biblical story of Creation and Fall. The endless story of human pride and eviction from paradise, the loss of the glory and the honour of being the summit of creation. Whereas Christian churches call to repent the sins and promise forgiveness by God and the church, this song protests loudly: “No, no, no, I’m not saying I’m sorry. I will never forget. No, no, I will never regret. No, no, I will live my life!“ I presume that this chorus and the immanent attitude towards life appeals very much to the band’s young fans: it’s about protest against the moral of the establishment and the control of the authorities. I can understand that very well.

There is also a very well made official video coming with this song, which brings something else up for discussion. “Closer to the edge” gets a much more political note. The video shows lead singer Leto carrying off his audience. At one point Leto, dressed in a long, dark coat, raises his right arm and greets the fans. The text: “Are you ready?” is displayed in this scene. A fool who doesn’t have annotations of political events in Germany’s and other countries’ past. It is amazing how he achieves to coordinate the audience’s singing and their movements. It is disturbing to watch how they follow him, deify him. “Yes, this is a cult” is being displayed while Leto seems to be “crucified” in a corona of gleaming light. The cult sites are mentioned as well: London, Tokio, Berlin, New York …and many other places around the world.

© PhotoXpress.com

This is all very well and professionally made. I assume the video has been done to actually create an awareness of this “edge” and the dangers coming with this sort of “cult”. Jared Leto brings his listeners to the edge, to the point where they are willing to sacrifice themselves for a greater idea, for another person.

Of course, all this has an obvious religious (not Christian!) annotation, which is clearly underlined by the statements of young people throughout the video: „Some people believe in God, I believe in music. Some people pray, I turn up the radio. Music is everything to me.”

Music, religion and power – an interesting combination. I can’t imagine a religious belief without any musical expression. Many people can’t imagine religion without power. And music certainly has got power over people. These three aspects all seem to come together in this song and the video. Is this just a statement or is also supposed to be a warning on the part of 30 Seconds To Mars regarding their fans’ attitude towards them? I don’t know if I am over-interpreting, but I take Jared Leto to be intelligent enough to have such a meaningful message. What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Is this a cult? Closer to the edge – 30 Seconds To Mars

  1. Pingback: Do Lyrics Matter? « Looking@Lyrics

  2. yu have it all wrong. this song is no where near being about a relationship. & yes this is a cult is not a religious thing. yu have to be a fan to understand it all.

    • I’d like to hear your interpretation, Elizabeth, but as far as I understood those who are not members of the “cult” will never understand – that’s a shame… 😉 The blogpost is about the thoughts I have when listening to the lyrics of the song and watching the video – and I like both of them. It’s certainly up to you to have a different view .

  3. i love the melody ….though when i read the lyrics …same thoughts came into my mind….It was a thousand to one and a million to two. Time to go down in flames and I’m taking you closer to the edge”…going to hell….it can also be a relationship but with whom…not the romantic kind….

    …. mars- meaning war… “To the warriors and the keepers of the gate…we await. ….. it could only mean one thing….it is pertaining to the angels guarding the gates of the Holy city and guarding the gates where Lucifer is currently locked… they await….

    Im just hoping it’s something else but all its cryptic messages and meaning points to one direction using music and environment concern as a disguise

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