Lady Gaga: Born This Way

Posted September 4, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Dancing queen pulls off her crusade of rock-fueled, religious-tinted electro-gasms

Lady Gaga’s on a mission to save the world from right-wing conservatism and obnoxious boredom on her raw and ambitious sophomore album Born This Way. The reason why Gaga is “tricking” up her album with tougher rules and guidelines may surround the idea that she’s tired of being pegged as a singles’ artist. Certainly she’s sold millions of copies worldwide of The Fame and her follow-up EP The Fame Monster, but her singles are especially hard to rival with. Each single dispersed from Gaga’s camp gives Rihanna and Katy Perry the hives. So it is with every intention for Gaga to boldly amp up her anecdotes, strange use of metaphors (unicorns, Bloody Mary, muscle bikes, oh my), religious obsessions (“I’ll dance with my hands above my head like Jesus”) and adventurous leaps into hypnotic choruses. She also engages in more musical risks by mixing bumping club beats with an overload of Eighties pop, epic rock and…need we say it…more Madonna.

Certainly the title track – bearing all the familiar vibes of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” – garners the most attention for becoming one of the gayest gay anthems to hit the pop charts since Diana Ross’s 1980 coming-out hit (“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen”), but it’s far from being crowned the album’s glorious moment. The Elton John-pacing of “You and I,” co-produced by Mutt Lunge, places the glitzy glitter gal right in the heart of Nashville soul. It’s a very different wardrobe for her, but one that proves she has the gutsy pipes to tackle a Southern rock ballad. “Bad Kids” is a delicious mash-up of hard aggressive ‘90’s dub bass with a breeze of Madonna pop on the chorus. And “The Edge of Glory” leaves open space for Clarence Clemons to blow his sax as if he was giving Gaga her own “Jungleland.” She also bends the ear of the dance world with more disarming genre-bending strategies, like Bollywood and “Bad Romance” remnants on “Judas,” like opera on the sloppy electros of “Government Hooker,” like trance club pounces akin to “Pokerface” and glimmers of the Eurythmics on “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love).” Even “Electric Chapel” provides a sensible blend of ‘80’s rock and orgasmic Eurodisco. Sometimes the experiments fall flat, particularly on “Americano,” which slices Mexican guitar and the romantic strings of Latin music into a bad “Alejandro” knockoff. But Gaga isn’t afraid to bend the rules as she squeezes mind-blowing, ear-popping robotics into the echoes of Eighties guitar-fueled rock.

Gaga has unequivocally gone on the record to suggest that Born This Way is the album of her career. That’s easy to say when you’re only two albums into your career. But it’s easy to believe her assessment. She works harder on this one to try to appeal to the masses and as strange as it sounds, it doesn’t sound like the disaster it should’ve been. Somehow, someway Gaga turns her wacky collage into an interesting, bewildering showcase of experimental disco that isn’t meant to satisfy dance floor novices. 



  • Release Date: 23 May 2011
  • Label: Streamline/Interscope
  • Producers: Lady Gaga, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, RedOne, Jeppe Laursen, DJ Snake, DJ White Shadow, Clinton Sparks
  • Spin This: “The Edge of Glory,” “Bad Kids,” “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love),” “You and I”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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