Lady Gaga – Born This Way


Posted June 2, 2011 in More, Music Reviews

DDF apr-may-24 – Desktop

Let us consider for a moment the possibility that this album could have been a load of old rubbish. After all expectation for it was so high, and the album has had so many column inches thrust its way, that it feels like we’ve lived with Born This Way for ages. That kind of hype has a way of leading to thudding disappointment. For example, I know nothing about console games, but some friends of mine who do inform me that L.A. Noire – possibly the most anticipated game in history – is, in their words, “crap”. While I can’t grasp my friends’ varied criticisms of L.A. Noire, I can sympathise with their disappointment. When an NME journalist pointed out the similarity between Born This Way and Madonna’s Express Yourself, Gaga blubbed and protested that no homage was intended. This did not bode well. Was she losing it? The suspicion that Gaga is more interesting as an idea than in reality has flourished recently and Gaga has not made life any easier for herself. Had Born This Way turned out to be a ropey “jazz-odyssey” in the vein of Gaga’s recent Radio 1 Big Weekend appearance the Little Monsters’ weeping would have been audible from space.

Fortunately Born This Way, while not being the best album ever made and lacking the “Retire Now All Other So-called Popstars – I’ve Arrived!” quality of The Fame Monster, is far from rubbish. It consolidates Gaga’s achievements thus far, and some of it is outstanding. The promised pummeling metal dance music is present and correct; in fact most of Born This Way straddles the twin, camp, worlds of musical theatre and gay dance music. Americano, Hair and the title track all strive to champion the dispossessed and the marginalised, and although one must admit that Gaga’s constant claims to outsider status can become wearing, one also has to admit that her heart seems to be in the right place. Almost every track comes with a walloping major chord chorus. This is pop music writ large, a lavish meal with all the trimmings. And then some more trimmings. And then yet more whether you like it or not. When it gets a bit overstuffed – a superfluous sax solo here, crashing reverby drums there – it comes unstuck; but generally the ploy of marrying screeching rock guitars to technopop works brilliantly throughout the album.

For its flaws, Born This Way is frequently brilliant; Judas is an absurd single in the best possible way and its tune and sense of its own importance are both delightful and hilarious. Scheisse, similarly, is ridiculous and all the more fantastic for it. Should Born This Way be taken seriously? Actually it’s an excercise in camp – anti-serious, and yet with something to say and a funny, attractive way of saying it. It is, like much of the best pop, hilariously serious and seriously hilarious. Don’t listen to it if you have a hangover though.

Words: Ciaran Gaynor

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