Review: Lady GaGa – Born This Way

By  |  10 Comments

Even after half of the tracks from Born This Way have already managed to creep their way into my ‘Top 25 Most Played’ songs on iTunes, I’m still a little fascinated and perplexed with each listen. The reasons? I could list them all, but plain and simple – what else can you expect from a self-liberating artist going by the name of Lady GaGa?

First things first, Born This Way is not just another album. Whereas 3 years ago, GaGa was singing of her “Summer Boy” and “Brown Eyes” – now, it’s “Government Hooker” and “Judas”. You can connect the dots yourself. Lyrically, and conceptually, GaGa has evolved beyond her humble (in comparison) beginnings. The theme of being born this way isn’t just employed for the title track, and is more laced throughout the album than initial listens would allow you to realize. A track with a similar formula would be “Hair”, an empowering furor wherein the rebel inside GaGa finds it’s release – even with the somewhat juvenile attitude of going crazy with ‘that’ hair –

“I’ve had enough / this is my prayer / that I’ll die living just as free as my hair”

GaGa herself continued to tweet that she’ll “dye” living just as free as her hair. She’s crazy AND has a sense of humour. Who would’ve known?

Something already established about GaGa is that she pushes boundaries – that much we know. It seems like only yesterday she was bluffing with unmentionable body parts (see “Poker Face”) and now she’s blatantly singing about being employed to flaunt said unmentionable body parts (see “Government Hooker”). Surprisingly though, the efforts don’t seem forced (in the most case) and it really does make for some incredible dance floor music:

Put your hands on me / John F. Kennedy

I’m not sure how he’d feel about being referred to in such context, but again, one of the standout tracks for sure. The album is full of moments like the above – a tense silence, a clenched fist and frozen glare, as for half of the first listen you wonder how she gets away with it all. Scheiße (read ‘shy-za’) blares German from the speakers, as ironically, GaGa sings over the noise “I don’t speak German / but I can if you like”. It makes no sense but it works. The controversial Biblical references come thick and fast too – “Judas”, “Bloody Mary”, “Electric Chapel” and “Black Jesus-Amen Fashion”. Maybe she’s converted, but I don’t see her becoming a nun anytime soon (except when singing about her multiple Italian lovers – see “Alejandro”).

Perhaps the clearest thing of all about the otherwise shady record, however, is the sheer musical quality: crisp and polished on all fronts. It is a totally fresh sound, like none heard before, and GaGa’s vocals layered on top simply add to the sheen. Listening to Born This Way and then returning to her roots (The Fame), her origins don’t have a patch on her new sound. If this is only album two, her evolution could birth wondrous things still. It’s a term often thrown around, but GaGa truly is a revolution. Comparisons to previous icons (Madonna’s Express Yourself) lead only to fuel her to defend her creations, and my, she does a fine job.

Although often shrouded in hooks about highway unicorns and heavy metal lovers, GaGa does allow the softer side of herself to peek through, even if just for a moment, on the closing songs of the record. “You and I” is a throwback to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and has such a simple sound and idea that is just brought to life with GaGa’s help:

“You said sit back down where you belong / in the corner of my bar with your high heels on”

A break towards the end of the track has GaGa announce that there’s “something about the chase – 6 whole years” and the feeling emerges that she’s not only talking about her Nebraska guy, but her chase of this whole dream, her whole dream. It’s the track “Edge of Glory” however that has the responsibility of closing the cover on this chapter of GaGa’s life. A power ballad and disco anthem all in one, a lament and yet a song of extreme liberation she leaves us with these final thoughts: “I’m on the edge of glory / and I’m hanging on a moment of truth / I’m on the edge of glory”. Another homage to heaven nonetheless, but, I can’t help but think she’s long past the edge and is already on to something glorious.

And that is the pleasure of it all. You need not know what it is that is so fascinating and perplexing about it all. It’s one huge piece of elaborate GaGa fantasy that we, the so-called ‘Little Monsters’ can consume and take a little piece of it back to our everyday lives. Whether for simply a moment, or something infinite, the evolution is upon us all the same. (Interscope)

[xrr rating=5/5]

Get your weekly wrap-up along with insight from our Editors

  • John Freemont

    Fantastic review! Not a huge fan of hers but this record is fantastic!

  • patrick

    what kind of people take this seriously! Is it really worth a track by track review.I still think this bullshit is a prank to see how stupid yall are!

  • chuck

    It's called an album review Patrick. You review an album track by track.

  • Ian Roulston

    Great review for a great album. It seems to me that all those with a taste for cutting-edge and extreme music would take our Lady seriously. Keep it up GaGa.

  • Dennis Ludin

    @ Chuck: When you correct people, you might want to check what you're saying….
    Open up any mag, or check any review. – Reviews can be as short as a one-liner & are certainly most of the time not reviewed track by track. Which doesn't mean they aren't or can't be reviewed track by track either.
    Point is, just get your shit straight before you bother to correct someone….

  • Dennis Ludin

    Oh & regarding lady gaga musically…
    For all I care you could physically insert actual fecal particles into your ears, that's cool with me; but I can't help but find it offensive for that to be considered serious music.

    Really disappointed in the way music is commercially accepted and consumed these days.
    Then again humans are like sheep… followers – consuming what the media feeds them. Mmmmeeehh
    Seriously keeps getting worse. Not just the music, but in past years it's now even alright to have totally meaningless lyrics in popular music.
    A decade ago Britney Spears, C. Aguilera, J. Simpson etc. already had predictable, thematically unoriginal lyrics. But now it's gone to either pure repetitive blabbering "Peh Peh Peh Poker Face" , or merely aiming to be filled with"provocative" insinuations. & provocative in the sense and level that it's inappropriate for 6 year old kids to sing along to.

    To be fair 2 – 3 of Gaga's early songs had good songwriting underneath the disturbing production and sound of the actual music.
    The only good thing about Lady Gaga is the marketing behind it… evidently worked.
    Although that's partially due to a generation that is somehow shocked by someone dressed up in a bubble outfit, Kermit the frog jacket and a face smudged and covered with pearls. That's not extreme. That's pathetic and a joke. Obviously catches attention and good PR. & I'm contributing to that by voicing my dislike towards it. One would expect it to either just stick out and somewhat work or be ridiculed and just laughed at.
    But it's surprising that such idiosyncrasy can actually be taken serious. And that in more than 1 way…

    To each their own.
    I listen to all sorts of music and people may consider some of it shit. Everyone has their own taste, whether music or food…..
    But IMO, saying Lady Gaga's music is "shit" is actually a compliment.
    Shouldn't even be considered "music". L. Gaga is simply an entertainer in the most minimal way; excluding any form of genuine musicianship.

    Gaga minions – feel free to slate me all you want – You're just gaga anyway ;)

  • Michael

    @Dennis Luden: Look, this guy was asked to do a review for the album and he did his job. Personally i liked the way he did it track by track because it gives me a better idea of what the album is like, rather than a short review that merely summarizes it. You don't have to like Lady Gaga, but i don't think you have the right to say she is "excluding any form of genuine musicianship", yes she's very OTT and extravagant but if you strip it back she is a good singer and a talented pianist. She may just be an attention seeker but she's No.1 on the Forbes most powerful celebrities list, so obviously she's doing something right:-)

  • Ian Roulston

    So guys, Born This Way = WIN and @dennis ludin = FAIL :-)

  • http://twitter.com/crand2003 @crand2003

    Last I heard she made $90 million last year but ended up $3 million dollars in debt and has to declare bankruptcy for the 5th time.

  • M-m-m-monster

    She’s not converted :P she went to catholic school for 13 years of her life. The edge of glory was written about her grandad.