I’ve spent the last five days pretty much listening to Lady Gaga’s new album, Born This Way, non-stop (with just a little bit of Fitz and the Tantrums thrown in…I know, weird mix, shut up). Anyway, The mere fact that it’s gone through so many listenings is a good sign, but I must admit that there are a few songs that I skip over. I did this with The Fame Monster, too, in the beginning, but that didn’t make me any less than a fan. I’m sure those few tracks will grow on me eventually, because they always do. It’s simply the power of Gaga.
I was beginning to wonder how many songs she was actually going to release before this album came out, because it was getting a little bit ridiculous. If you take the plain edition of the album, there’s only 14 tracks and she released at least four (five if you count “You and I”, also what’s up with the umlaut on that one? There’s supposed to be one). Granted, the deluxe edition has 17 plus five remixes, but still.
Only once I listened to the album did I really get it, and it was a great marketing scheme. People always buy that album for that song that they heard on the radio. Well, you’ve already heard (and most likely enjoyed) about a third of the album, so why not just buy it? Also, that whole Amazon/$1.00 thing really helped out, too. That dollar goes a hell of a long way when you consider the fact that this album is projected to sell 800,000 copies.
We expect Gaga to be (and this has become my new favorite word) “a weirdy”, but she’s really gone all out on this one. I mean, have you seen the video for “Born This Way”? If not, check it out. There is not enough LSD in the world to make that video “normal”. David Bowie would be proud. While previous albums were all about disco sticks, gettin’ drunk, and generally being fabulous, she’s gone off on an entirely different tangent. This time it’s religion and I still can’t tell if she’s genuinely into this whole religious thing or if she’s just being facetious. In one way, you have the uplifting, eponymous, anthem, but then you have songs like “Black Jesus/Amen Fashion”. She’s been going in this direction for a while, with the whole “Mother Monster”/”Little Monsters” situation and even with the Haus of Gaga, in a sense. Lady Gaga is no longer just a musician, she’s a brand, an entity. It’s easy to forget that this album entailed the assistance of 60+ people.
Even when speaking about the album in an interview with the BBC’s Newsbeat Gaga stated, “It’s finished and all, it’s just fine-tuning everything. It’s kind of like the post-operative stage of the album. I’ve already done the full heart surgery. I’m just sewing myself back up again. I think that lyrically this album is more poetic. It’s really written by the fans, they really wrote it for me because every night they’re funneling so much into me. So I wrote it for them. Born This Way is all about my little monsters and me, mother monster.”
Perhaps I’ve thought far too deeply about a pop album. That’s also quite possible. Apparently other people get this, too, though. From the EW review:
“The gospel of Gaga, as told in Born This Way, goes something like this: Humanity will be damned by its own self-doubt until Gaga the Savior delivers us with the might of her music. On the album’s first two singles, the messianic “Born This Way” and “Judas,” our muffin-bluffin’ Lady of yore is reborn as an earnest dance-party evangelist, retaining the beats but trading in her disco stick for a splinter of the Cross.”
In addition to that reoccurring theme, though, Born This Way is just as much about equality…in religion, freedom, sexuality, race, and pretty much anything else. Kind of an All American ideal over a euro-dance beat. Oh, and don’t forget the slutty parts like “Put your hands on me, John F. Kennedy” in “Government Hooker” or “I want your whiskey mouth all over my blond south” in “Heavy Metal Lover”. In a world of standard, radio-friendly pop hits, Gaga’s imagination is a welcome change.
The vast majority of the album is very good. “Marry the Night”, reportedly an homage to her love of New York opens the door to a fantastic pop album. Perhaps not the “album of the decade” like Lady Gaga promised, but pretty damn fun none the less. Minus the weird, diva-like aria at the beginning, I’m also really digging “Government Hooker”. Something about this song makes me think of a female Tim Armstrong. Maybe it’s her weird ass, almost drunk sounding “chorus”. That is a distinct possibility. For as weird as this song is, I can’t stop loving it. The perils of going Gaga, I suppose. It’s got a pretty fun, late 80’s inspired goth hook though, which also has elements present in “Highway Unicorn (Road 2 Love)”. Alright, I just want to stop to mention that that’s a ridiculous fucking song title. Gaga has managed to make everyone love her, from pre-teens, to teens, to twenty and thirty something party chicks to frat boys, to soccer moms to everyman. No everyman is going to be caught dead listening to a song called “Highway Unicorn”, okay? Other than that, it’s actually a pretty badass song.
The song that has really just fucked the shit out of my ears, though, is “Scheiße”. Gaga goes straight up German Hardcore. Well actually, she doesn’t speak German, but she will if you want her to, and in her own brand of quasi-fantasy German. That doesn’t make it any less hot, though.
Songs that I’ve been skipping are “Americano”, an in your face knock-off of “Alejandro”, except in female form, “Hair”, disappointingly self-explanatory, and “The Queen”…just can’t get into that one. This does not mean they won’t grown on me. Chances are they will in just the same way that “Dancing in the Dark” and “Monster” did.
All in all, I can admit that I expected more from Gaga, but I hold her to pretty high standards. At this point, I feel like this album is already over. With all the pre-releases, it’s like we’ve all been listening to this album for a year. Now, it has me eagerly awaiting her next, strange adventure. It still gets an A, but in the lower percentages. You can check it out for yourself, streaming for free on her Myspace.
Have some videos and a great holiday weekend, everybody!
“Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)”