Reviewed: Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’

As always, originally published on iafrica.com.

“I promised that if I won this, I would announce the name of my new album. It’s called Born This Way.

At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards Lady Gaga picked up the Video of the Year Award and with those two lines – and the first public performance of the chorus to the album’s title track – sparked a media frenzy. The industry has been chomping at the bit since September last year for this album, and now that it’s out, does Born This Way deserve the hype? The answer: totally.

Born This Way

The cover for 'Born This Way'

Lady Gaga is the proverbial acid trip of the music world. In fact, she has an entire team – Haus of Gaga – to ensure that she keeps up the blinding kaleidoscope of her identity. So with everybody focusing on the meat dress, the crazy shoes and the Grammys egg, the album could only be one thing to succeed: obscenely over-the-top.

Sensory overload

Born This Way is a total sensory overload. It’s highly ambitious, in your face and completely excessive – and that’s why it works. There’s not a single low-energy moment; from the mood-setting opener of Marry the Night and into the iconic gay anthem Born This Way all the way through to the massive Euro-trance beats of Scheiβe and the incredible 80s/90s pop-rock feel of You and I and Edge of Glory.

Gaga and her team throw simply everything into this album. Not content to have a Bruce Springsteen-inspired sax riff in Edge of Glory, they bring out the Boss’ actually saxophonist, Clarence Clemons, to rock our socks off. And, in possibly the greatest moment of the entire album, Brian May rips into face-melting solo on the phenomenal You and I, which also samples the iconic beat from Queen’s We Will Rock You.

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Lady Gaga’s Judas video – A brief review

You know, there’s a fine line when artists/studios/labels balance when promoting a piece of work.

Too little publicity and your product will disappear among the masses, destined to either fade into obscurity or (if they’re very, very lucky) become a cult classic. Too much publicity and you over-stimulate your audience to the point where no matter how amazing your film/song/novel is, somebody else expected it to be better.

To me, this is what’s happened to Lady Gaga’s video for Judas. For weeks and weeks we’ve heard Gaga talk about how it was the most exciting artistic moment of her career. We’ve heard hype from her creative partner, seen leaked details splashed all over the media and then, of course, the controversy surrounding the track itself. And then, she premiered the video – which you can watch below. My 2c and the video itself after the jump…

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Lady Gaga’s Judas controversy

You didn’t really think I’d let this one slip through the cracks, did you?

Lady Gaga – never one to do something quietly – has released the audio for her new single Judas. Now, with a title like that you’re not going to do anything but offend the Christian community, really. So I’m pretty sure Gaga saw this one coming. If you want the background to the whole story, you can click here – but basically it boils down to this: Gaga sings about being in love with Judas. You know, the guy who betrayed Jesus to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver.

The president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights threw a small hissy fit on the matter, accusing her of “trying to rip off Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances”.

“This is a stunt… Lady Gaga tries to continue to shock Catholics and Christians in general: she dresses as a nun… she swallows the rosary. She has now morphed into a caricature of herself”.

Let’s be honest – of course Gaga is trying to be controversial. It gets her sales. And attention. That’s how she rolls. Yes, I’m starting to feel that she’s trying way, way too hard to be “out there” – but it’s better than being vanilla, right?  And there is no better way of stirring up controversy than poking a stick at the Christian community and watching the feathers fly.

But surely, surely these people should realise that they’re being baited? When she dresses like a nun, or swallows a rosary, or covers herself in blood or sings about being in love with Judas, Gaga is trying to get a rise out of you.

And that’s okay. Her soul does not need to be “saved”.

She’s a musician, and much more of an artist than other mass-produced pop acts. If she wants to express herself in a particular way, then let her. Just as the person on the street is allowed to preach in favour of Christianity, she is allowed to use it to as a metaphor.

All of the religious rubbish aside – I’m not particularly impressed with this track. It’s a thumping dance track and is going to be a massive, massive club hit – it’s a powerful track. But it also sounds a hell of a lot like Bad Romance – and still has quite a solid early Madonna feel. But, much like every other song she’s ever written, it’s probably going to grow on me in a massive way.

I just can’t wait to see the video – she’s apparently starring as Mary Magdalene. That’s going to go down very well.