Friday, May 27, 2011

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

"The greatest album of this decade" is what Lady Gaga declared Born This Way several months prior to the album's release.  That's a high bar to set for yourself no matter what genre of music you create, but either way she promised a record full of "avant-garde techno rock".  If you have no interest in Gaga or her music then the "greatest album" statement may sound cocky and egotistical, but if you're one of her Little Monsters, it sounds like the next level of her record shattering career.

There's no denying that Gaga has captured the world's attention, not only with her music and outlandish videos, but also through her persona.  She projects a message of individualism and equality.  The album's lead single, "Born This Way" symbolizes the theme as a complete piece of work.  That very single broke records upon its release back in February.  Now it has found itself as track number two on the seventeen track album, Born This Way.

Her first two albums, The Fame and The Fame Monster, consisted primarily of dance-pop music.  A great amount of growth was witnessed between the release of those albums.  The latter dabbled with gothic and industrial styles. However, with Born This Way, Gaga called upon artists from past decades for inspiration.  She tips her hat to Whitney Houston on "Fashion Of His Love", Bruce Springsteen on "The Edge Of Glory", Madonna on "Born This Way", Journey on "Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)", Queen on "Yoü And I", and countless other icons from as far back as the seventies.  It's amazing to hear her project the various artists that she loves back into her own music.

From the opening note of "Marry The Night", Born This Way is musically much more complex than any of her previous work, or perhaps it's simply the massive hooks and stadium sized power that gives off this illusion.  Every song is bigger than the previous as she experiments with new instruments.  On "Hair" and "The Edge Of Glory", Clarence Clemons of The E Street Band plays the saxophone.  I can't remember the last time I heard a saxophone on Top 40 radio stations.

"Americano" shows off her ability to grasp a completely new genre and morph it into a bilingual epic.  Gaga returned with her Spanish tongue to write a song about immigration and gay marriage.  It's a weird concept, but the mariachi-techno piece is one of the album's highlights.  The album also holds a good handful of French lines, while "Scheiße" is full of German gibberish.

Religion is another theme that is heavily stressed on the record.  "Judas", the metaphorical single that caused backlash from some religious groups, is only the beginning.  "Bloody Mary", an eerie track that could possible be the best part of the record, and the guitar driven "Electric Chapel" incorporate the subject even further.  "Black Jesus † Amen Fashion" intertwines fashion and religion, combining them together as one.

The racy Gaga is still present on this record.  "Government Hooker" and "Heavy Metal Lover" take on the dirty beats that were found on her previous albums.  "I want your whiskey mouth all over my blonde south" wraps up "Heavy Metal Lover" into a mellow droning pace that turns out to be one of the most interesting tracks.

Still, the core of Born This Way is simply self empowerment, acceptance, and equality with lyrics like, "Don't be insecure if your heart is pure - there's nothin' wrong with lovin' who you are - I just wanna be myself".  The bridge of the title track broke boundaries in mainstream music.  There weren't any complicated metaphors.  The message is loud and clear.  It's hard to classify Lady Gaga in the same category as other pop stars such as Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Ke$ha.  Gaga just has so much more meaning and musical depth as a songwriter, and that's what propels her music to the top.

Is Born This Way the best album of the decade? Well, we won't know for a long time, but it's definitely the best "avant-garde techno rock" album of the decade so far.  Many people say that Gaga's fifteen minutes of fame are almost over, but it actually looks like she's just getting started.  Sure, the album may be overly camp and outrageous at times, but that's what Gaga does best.

The one factor of Born This Way that may hinder its universal acclaim is how the album seems tailored towards her long time Little Monsters.  Gaga knows her core audience and that may push away the casual fans that buy the record on a whim.  However, shouldn't every artist write music that pleases their central fan base?  Why should she try to appeal to Top 40 radio standards when she already knows who listens to her music?  When you open the first page of the album's booklet, it reads "This album is for ü".  That one line tells you exactly what Gaga's intent was with Born This Way.


  1. I love her new CD so much! Especially the new sounds like the saxaphone solo's.

  2. I really love how you write your reviews! So precise and straight to the subject. Hope to hear more of you.
    I adore Americano(was repeated in my playlist over and over again yesterday), Judas, The edge of glory, Scheiße and my album favourite, Hair. All of them could be succesful singles. It's an almost amazing album, but Heavy Metal Lover, You and I are not quite I expected. But the album is gold.