Lady Gaga – Born this Way
Naturally, when a new album is released by any group or recording artist, people are anxious to hear what it’s like. Is it amazing? Do your ears feel drugged from the intoxicating melodies and explosive beats? Or is it awful? Does it reek of overproduction and wheeze ‘sell-out’ between the childlike lyrics obviously penned for money and not passion of the art of music? Or is just ‘Okay’? Nothing special, a simple album, which in the end will be forgotten because indifference to a record is about as welcome as a case of Mono. Thankfully, Lady Gaga’s new album is definitely not falling between the cracks of I-Don’t-Care, but is it a masterpiece or a load of aul shite? Born This Way has received so many different reactions from devout love and unwavering praise to snarling, sniping hateful remarks and the usual ‘She’s a goddamn moron’ kind of jive.
Tim Jonze of guardian.co.uk writes:
If so, it would certainly fit the most recent narrative – Lady Gaga’s rise to the top of the pop tree has landed on a particularly wobbly branch during this album’s promotional campaign. First fans grumbled that the title track bore remarkable similarity to Madonna’s Express Yourself. Then disapproving voices in the gay community complained that Gaga had hijacked their sexuality as a marketing tool. So intense was the chatter around Born This Way, in fact, there was even a backlash over the artwork.
His article is riveting in its dissection of the album, but I found his judgment to be one of slightly obvious distaste for her new work, respectfully to Jonze of course. Just not his cup of tea I think. And I thought I would feel the exact same, until I listened to it.
For those of you who are already diehard fans of Gaga *nods to webmaster*, this album is nothing short of a mouthwatering aural banquet. And this is coming from a non-Gaga fan. Every track delivers with a shameless, balls-to-the-wall confidence and yanks the listener into the songworld of Gaga, whirling in tornadoes of blistering dance beats and unadulterated vocal volcanoes where her voice is never drowned out by the effects of the song. THIS is what sets her apart. She can deliver a song like ‘Scheibe’, a German-English technobaby with a rock-hard beat that you can feel shake your entire body into wanting to dance and still keeps the focus entirely on her voice, something I’ve noticed is difficult when bringing the likes of synths and steady beats into a song. With her monotonous German intro and the steady beat the first place my mind goes to is a German fetish club with the music pumping like blood through veins and the population of the dance-floor pulsing to the rhythm. It caught my attention instantly, showing that she knows exactly how to market her music.
Every track I’ve listened to has its own aural fingerprint; every song stands out from the next one, differing so greatly from the melody to the pace to the beat to the vocals to the overall feel. Songs like ‘Judas’ and ‘Government Hooker’ almost smack you in the face with their balls-out approach and obviously controversial lyrics while pulling you back in to drink up the blistering dance beats and daring you to resist the breathless need to move your body to every pulse and every throb within the song.
‘Bad Kids’ stood out starkly because the intro was so similar to something Pink would produce, and as the song begins the lyrics catch your ear and draw you in to see what this song is saying beyond the usual mad-Gaga lyrical menagerie of insane, sexually aggressive poetry. The song seems to celebrate the idea of being, well, an asshole kid who’s proud of how bad they are and welcomes the idea of blaming it all on your parents. The reason it stuck with me was that the beat and melody was reminiscent of a happy-go-lucky 80s pop song while churning out the dark and angry lyrics such as:
‘I’m a bitch, I’m a loser baby maybe I should quit/I’m a jerk, wish I had the money but I can’t find work/I’m a brat, I’m a selfish punk, I really should be smacked/My parents tried until they got divorced ‘cuz I ruined their lives’
Quite a few of the songs are swimming in influence from 80s music with their dirty saxophone solos, mild guitar sequences, overzealous synth and upbeat, poppy happy-go-lucky melodies, most of which end up being all the richer for taking such ideas and meshing them with a mind like Gaga’s. From ‘The Edge of Glory’ which conjures images of the ending scene of a movie where our beloved protagonist finally gets to be with the one they love in standard ‘run-to-one-another-and-cling-to-each-other-as-one-of-us-is-swung-around-and-we-all-laugh-along-happily’ end-of-movie sequence, to ‘Fashion of His Love’, a beautifully upbeat and uplifting piece that reeks of Whitney Housten’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ when the chorus hits in. Both songs struck me as such wonderful additions to the album simply because they have such joyous emotion contained within them, offsetting the dirty, sleazy (yet very welcome to be on my Ipod) likes of ‘Government Hooker’, ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ and ‘Scheibe’ with their gritty, grinding beckons to the listener.
Three absolute gems on this album I found to be songs I couldn’t only listen to the once were ‘You and I’, ‘Born This Way’ and ‘Born This Way (Country Roads Version)’. Obviously ‘Born This Way’ has to be commended for the simple fact that whether or not you like it, it is in face an anthem for everyone. Although tipped as the ‘gay anthem’ by Sir Elton John and then viciously verbally torn apart by a minor section of the gay community, it has to be recognized as a standalone anthem musically. It oozes feel-good factor and shines joy and pride in big rainbows (no pun intended). It screams ‘I’m here, I’m me, I’m proud’ with every incendiary beat and every vocal explosion. It has nothing but positivity and light within its lyrics, beat, melody and core.
The variation of the anthem (Country Roads Version) is an utter treasure, something that utterly surprised me. I half expected some frightening ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ remix of the original, bracing myself for insane banjoes and heavy beats and some kind of weird Rainbow Confederate Flag imagery. And man was I impressed when I heard what it really was. Somehow the guitars and harmonica swirl melodically with her vocals, creating this intensely beautiful, paradoxical storm of soft, lovely music that merges like heavenly lovers and makes you want to stand up proudly while still chilling out in the back.
Finally, there’s ‘You and I’. At first, you’re not sure what to make of it. It has a beautiful, bluesy country feel to it but then the heavy beat trundles in, and amazingly they complement each other so wonderfully that the song just works. This song is Born This Way’s country blues love song (strongly reminiscent of Journey’s ‘Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ with a little extra happy in there) and seems to fit perfectly together despite the obvious mixing of genres that ordinarily might never work together.
The album is a must-have, by all means. From the ‘80s pop-meets-‘00s dance meshing of songs like ‘Edge of Glory’, ‘Fashion of His Love’ and ‘Bad Kids’ to the workout-must-have definite club-hits like ‘Scheibe’, ‘Government Hooker’ and ‘Americano’, Gaga definitely ‘brung it’. Every song I listened to whisked me away to the world that was contained within and painted every scene before me with every lyric sung and every beat pumped through the speakers. It might not be the ‘album of the decade’, but it’s certainly a masterpiece in itself. Whether you adore every yelp and growl and perfectly-held high note that escapes her pouty lips or despise the noises that come from the pulsing, insanely dressed character before you, you have to admit: the woman is fucking talented.
Although I’m not a fan of her and her ideas and morals, I can certainly ignore that aspect and enjoy the music she has brought to the table with this album for what it is: pure, absolute music. Lady Gaga is a performer and a writer, a singer and a theatrical enigma that brings us these insane musical pieces straight from her intense imagination and never apologizes for it. She brings us something new, something frightening, something different and unafraid and unashamed to be that kind of different. She brings us her music, as she makes it and as she wants it to be. For that, because I don’t have a hat to take off to you, I salute you, Gaga.
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