Born This Way (Lady Gaga, May 23, 2011)
Lady Gaga promised her fans (aka Little Monsters) the best album of the decade when she was amping people up for the release of her second studio album, Born This Way. Is it the best album of the decade? I’m not sure that it is. That’s the way I’m leaning. But, I will say that this album is a powerful dance-pop-hard rock album with its ups and downs.
- Marry The Night
- Born This Way
- Government Hooker
- Bloody Mary
- Black Jesus – Amen Fashion
- Bad Kids
- Fashion Of His Love
- Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)
- Heavy Metal Lover
- Electric Chapel
- The Queen
- You and I
- The Edge Of Glory
- Born This Way (Country Road Version)
- Judas (DJ White Shadow Remix)
- Marry The Night (Zedd Remix)
- Scheibe (DJ White Shadow Remix)
- Fashion Of His Love (Fernando Garibay Remix)
- Born This Way (Jost & Naaf Remix)
Gaga repeatedly said that this album would be full of sledgehammer beats, and that is definitely true. Start to finish, Born This Way has intense dance tracks mated with a broad range of other genres – opera (‘Government Hooker’, ‘Bloody Mary’), hard rock (on multiple tracks, including ‘Born This Way’ and ‘Electric Chapel’), 80s pop (again, on lots of the tracks), maybe even some latin influences (‘Americano’).
I was really interested in listening to this album to see what kind of music Lady Gaga would create for her second album, especially with higher and higher expectations of her, which come naturally as she tries new things creatively. I have a feeling she would probably say that it doesn’t matter what people think about her new album, because its an album of self-expression and embracing your true nature and who you are. Its a powerful message to put into sledgehammer dance tracks, but really, there’s nothing wrong with that, although I wouldn’t say its something I’ve heard a lot of in the past. On first listen, I didn’t like this album – there are cheesy parts (including the saxophone on ‘The Edge Of Glory’ – I’m sorry, I just don’t like it) and some of the themes (self-love, self-expression, sexuality, religious references) feel a bit much – a little repetitive. But when you listen to a few tracks at a time, they are engaging, unique and for the most part, memorable.
The so-called “Special Edition” is a full album of 23 songs, and that sledgehammer beat drives right until the end. It starts off powerful with ‘Marry The Night’ and captures you with a few ballad-like lines before the driving dance tracks starts and continues for the rest of the album. Its a great amp-up at the beginning of the album. Throughout the entire disc, there’s this synth guitar sound that is featured on a lot of the tracks, and I guess it kind of creates a throughline that connects tracks together, even though so many are distinctly different.
The title track, ‘Born This Way’ is a huge dance tune with a lot going on, and at first it sounded really chaotic to me, and I thought there was too much noise happening. Now, I think its a really well-orchestrated track with an impressive mix of sounds, including 80s dance style beats and melodies with rock elements, all underscoring powerful lyrics about self-love and self-expression.
I dig this album because its very different from the pop or dance music out there right now. Gaga has completed an album that cross-breeds genres and tops it all of with interesting and very intentional themes. I don’t think the lyrics on this album are incredible, in fact there are some parts that are just cheesy, like the beginning of ‘Americano’ – it just doesn’t sit right with me. There is something that is unnatural about it. But the rest of the track is really catchy, and was even based on an Arizona immigration law, if I’m not mistaken.
This is the thing: there are some parts of the album that have cheesy moments, and there are other parts that are kick ass, catchy, unique dance tunes that stick in your head and make you want to move.
I don’t think all the tracks on this album should be on the album. ‘Black Jesus – Amen Fashion’, ‘Fashion Of His Love’ and ‘Electric Chapel’ are okay tracks, but the other tracks are all so high-intensity, and unique that these three just don’t seem to cut it for me. They are missing the diverse sound that the other tracks on the album have. But Lady Gaga doesn’t do things by accident. She has a very specific mission and is clear about what she wants to achieve through her music. So if she included tracks on this album, I think its safe to say she feels they are necessary.
Born This Way is different from The Fame or The Fame Monster, and its a good thing. If it was the same, it would just be catchy pop-dance tunes. Her new album pushes the boundaries of music a little bit further and challenges the mainstream music industry as a result. I think its great. Not to mention, she worked with a team of incredible collaborators, including RedOne and DJ White Shadow, who has a few remixes on this album as well.
If you are looking for some unique new dance tunes, check this album out. It’ll probably grow on you. You might have to skip over some songs (I sure did). But there are still quite a few that I really like.
Lady Gaga sings her heart out on all these tracks, and they all have a clarity that is different from the last album. Gaga is singing more honestly and comfortably about the subjects she wants to and her love for her music shines through the music.
So is it the album of the decade? I don’t think so. But I do think that Born This Way is a landmark album in pop culture just like Lady Gaga herself. The album is a reflection of Gaga – its unique, its honest, its committed to something powerful, and it does not ask for your acceptance, it just wants you to enjoy it by letting lose and being yourself.
Check it out, and let me know what you think!