Ghost’s frontman, Tobias Forge, has always been a master at combining controversial lyrics with captivating melodies. With his latest song, “Mary on a Cross,” he managed to infiltrate the mainstream music scene in a way that only he could. This article dives into the meaning behind the song, its unexpected rise to viral fame, and the band’s unique mythology.
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The Origins of “Mary On A Cross”
According to Ghost’s own mythology, “Mary On A Cross” dates back to 1969 when an early version of the band explored the psychedelic sounds of the era. Led by the charismatic clergyman known as Papa Nihil, this incarnation of Ghost failed to make a significant impact. It wasn’t until Papa Nihil reappeared in the 21st century as Papa Emeritus Zero that “Mary On A Cross” and another song, “Kiss The Go-Goat,” saw the light of day again. These tracks were re-released as the 2019 single “Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic.”
The Collaborative Creation
In reality, “Seven Inches of Satanic Panic” was a collaboration between Ghost and Swedish songwriting duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare, also known as Vargas & Lagola. Known for their work with Madonna and Katy Perry, the duo co-wrote several tracks on Ghost’s 2018 album “Prequelle” and would later collaborate with Tobias Forge once again on the 2022 album “Impera.”
Unveiling “Mary On A Cross”
“Mary On A Cross” was released as the B-side of the “Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic” single on September 13, 2019. The song perfectly captured the psychedelic vibe of the late 60s, featuring mesmerizing garage rock organ sounds. Its lyrics are evocative and open to interpretation, with Tobias Forge singing about the trappings of fame and the complexities of human relationships.
Unraveling the Mystery
Though Forge has been reluctant to reveal the song’s exact meaning, he offered some insights during a recent livestream interview. The chorus, “You go down like Holy Mary/Mary on a cross,” is written with a tongue-in-cheek approach, not meant to be taken literally. Forge explains that “go down” can refer to going down in history or your own ascent. The mention of Mary doesn’t necessarily refer to the mother of Jesus but could symbolize Mary Magdalene, challenging perceptions and highlighting the hidden intentions of individuals.
Provoking Controversy and Success
“Mary On A Cross” quickly became a fan favorite, and its popularity skyrocketed when a TikTok user uploaded a slowed-down version of the song accompanied by scenes from Stranger Things. The unconventional combination struck a chord with TikTok users, resulting in over 300,000 videos featuring the song. This newfound exposure led to the song reaching the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time, making it Ghost’s most-streamed song with over 210 million streams on Spotify.
Naysayers and New Discoveries
With success came criticism. Christian TikTok users called out the song, considering it disrespectful to the Christian faith. However, this controversy aligns with Ghost’s history of anti-religious provocation. Forge embraced the response, acknowledging that the song’s viral success acted as a gateway for people to explore Ghost’s world more deeply. He believes that those who fail to grasp the song’s true meaning are missing the point entirely.
The Power of “Mary On A Cross”
Ultimately, the success of “Mary On A Cross” introduced Ghost to a whole new audience. Forge expressed gratitude for the influx of new fans who were drawn into the enigmatic world of Ghost. The song’s catchy melodies, combined with its thought-provoking and controversial nature, captivated unsuspecting souls and propelled the band to new heights.
So, take a moment to immerse yourself in the allure of “Mary On A Cross” and let Ghost’s extraordinary music transport you to a realm where artistry knows no boundaries.