On Monday, May 23rd, Lady Gaga released her much anticipated third full-length album, “Born This Way.”
The deluxe version, boasting 22 complete tracks indulges the listener’s senses by presenting a wide array of sounds- from techno-synth pop, to 80’s ballads, to grungy rock and roll. Lady Gaga’s fans, who she lovingly calls her “little monsters” have been waiting for “Born This Way” for nearly a year. Overall, I would say this album was well worth the wait.
“Born This Way” showcases Gaga’s vocal talent, versatility and cutting edge lyrics. One thing that Gaga does effortlessly is bring attention to herself at the right times. Her marketing genius has already made “Born this Way” a huge success, even in the first 48 hours of its release.
Unlike several artists who make relentless efforts to keep majority of their songs under wraps, Gaga released four songs before the album’s release on itunes, and also provided links to her fans of her live performances of other songs. This was a smart marketing move on her part—experts say the album would have leaked months ago instead of a week ago if Gaga didn’t release these songs when she did. One of the songs released last week, “Hair,” ranks high on my favorites list on the album.
“Hair” is a response to people who have criticized Gaga in the past, calling her a shock artist, or someone who looks outlandish for the sake of attention-getting. The message in “Hair” is Gaga telling her naysayers that her appearance is part of who she is and a true expression of her inner-self.
Many people criticize Gaga in saying that she is mimicking beats, melodies and riffs from Madonna. I think this is due in part to the fact that Gaga’s vocal tone is similar to Madonna’s (well, when Madonna was good in the 80s.). However, “Fashion of His Love,” written for the late Alexander McQueen, definitely sounds like an early 80’s Madonna-like track. Not like one that has been recorded before, but one that Madonna would have sang in her “Like a Virgin” days. It even features a sax solo from Clarence Clemons, who is best known for collaborating with Bruce Springsteen.
“Queen,” a bonus track on the deluxe album version, also has an 80’s pop sound that I love. It is one of the cheesiest songs that Gaga has ever done, proclaiming that she can “be the queen that’s inside of me.” This squeaky clean track surprised me more than her meat dress.
Of course, it wouldn’t be like Gaga to not have controversy. The third song on the album, “Government Hooker,” is a dark, eerie, hard-tempo beat that starts off with an operatic intro. Although a reference to JFK is made, the song does not carry a heavy political tone. The song’s hook says,” as long as I’m your hooker,” an emotionally tender, borderline-desperate thing for her to say.
Gaga is fearless with what she sings about, and religion is no exception. In her second single, “Judas,” Gaga is torn between good and evil. She stays with a man who betrays her over and over again, even though she knows “Jesus” loves her. She says, “Jesus is my virtue, and Judas is the demon I cling to.” The video is equally controversial, as she turns the 12 disciples into a motorcycle gang, and has a young, Hispanic, gay male play Jesus.
In “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion,” a pop-techno dance song, Gaga pays homage to one of her biggest loves—runway fashion. She says, “Jesus is the new Black,” though I’m not necessarily sure I understand what that means and where she’s coming from. Nonetheless, it is one of the best dance songs on the entire album.
Aside from all the Gaga greatness, there are a couple of tracks that I don’t like. “Americano” is probably my least favorite. Not only is it lyrically all over the place, but the music itself never really kicked in for me. I wasn’t sure if she was talking about her love affair with a foreign girl, immigration social justice issues or wanting to move out of the country.
“Bloody Mary” is a song I only heard good things about, but I’m just not hearing what all the fuss is about. It’s another slower tempo, ominous type of song, and it is a little too theatrical for my taste. These songs don’t really fit with the main album, in my opinion, and I would prefer them to be bonus tracks.
Aside from the mentioned “Queen,” The bonus tracks on this album are remastered and remixed versions of songs already on the regular album. If you like club dance remixes, you will enjoy them. I saw them as unnecessary, and I now wish I would have bought the album on the first day of its release, when it was only 99 cents on Amazon.com.
One of my favorite tracks on Gaga’s last album, “the Fame Monster,” was “Speechless.” Just her, a piano and some background musical accompaniment. “Speechless” is a deep, heartfelt song that shows Gaga’s raw vocal talent and refined piano skills. The second to last song on “Born This Way” is not a new song, but a song that (until now) did not have a studio-recorded version available for purchase. Fans could only hear this song at her “Monster Ball Tour” where she would sing it live.
“You and I,” tells the story of two people that just can’t seem to stay away from each other, no matter what their circumstances. It is a passionate, romantic, rock and bluesy type of song that is really fun to sing along to.
The album ends with “Edge of Glory,” a song she wrote after her grandfather’s death. The song is from the point of view of someone who is in their last moments of life, when nothing in the world is left to scare them. This song is very uplifting, and quite easily my favorite song on the album. It’s the perfect closer to an amazing piece of work.
Gaga’s extreme fame and success will inevitably burn out one day, and whether that’s soon or decades from now remains debatable. But there definitely is something to be said of the body of work she has put out in such a short time. She is dedicated to her status as a pop star, and takes the role very seriously.
Her fans questioned how she would top “The Fame Monster,” but I really think she may have done it.