Radio Rant: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Game time.

As of writing, this single had yet to technically chart, but think about it. There’s no way it won’t debut at #1 on the Hot 100, and it’s slated to be the 1000th #1 on the chart, something I refuse to chalk up to coincidence.

And crap like that is why I can’t call myself a Lady Gaga fan. It’s not her music; I actually liked most of The Fame Monster and gave it a four star review. It’s pop, but it’s really well-done pop by someone with a great voice. I also appreciate that she legitimately gets people excited about pop music.

My problem with Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga. She’s not the whirlwind of creativity and originality that everyone claims she is. I mean, shit, throw a 1980’s pop Madonna obsession, a shot each of camp/glam, and an unchecked budget at each other, and she’s the natural result. The lack of actual originality and the hurricane of bullshit produced by her public persona keep booting me off the Gaga fan-train. But you know what? I like the music, I can deal with her indirectly, and I’m honestly curious about her new stuff. Let’s get this party started.

…we are not off to a great start. Gaga’s spoken word intros were the least appealing part of The Fame Monster; they’re lame and reek of pretension. Thankfully, the beat kicks in before too long, and it is gigantic. When “Born This Way” kicks into chorus mode, there is no way to not dance to it. Gaga’s always been known for giant choruses, but “Born This Way” is an out-and-out club stomper, and possibly the catchiest thing she’s done. Turn it up and let it play.

Of course, Gaga and her producers seem to have taken care of the “turn it up” part for you. For someone whose production has been nearly flawless so far in her career, “Born This Way” is a misstep; overloaded with synths, too many superfluous noises, and too loud. Gaga’s previous releases had breathing room up until they became singularly focused (usually the chorus), and it made for a great dynamic. “Born This Way” comes in “loud” and “headache”.

The lyrics. Alright, last week, I quipped that I was getting tired of “be yourself” songs…and now here I am looking at a song called “Born This Way”. I still stand by my previous statements about those songs, but “Born This Way”, coming from Gaga–who herself is bisexual and an honest to God gay rights advocate–is nothing but sincere, and I can’t hate on that. And these lyrics aren’t even bad, the first snag comes at the second stanza of the chorus, which is just a little too much on the hokey life-coach side of things. Then there’s this.

“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen”

Really, Gaga? Your big anthem, and you had to toss that clunker in? To be fair, it’s not the worst thing she’s written (“I’m bluffin’ with my muffin” and “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” come to mind), but it’s still bad enough to stop the song’s momentum. Other lyrical fuck-up is using outdated pejoratives “orient” and “chola” in a “Everyone is cool!” song.

In the end, “Born This Way” leaves me pretty lukewarm, not especially pulling me either way. As something loud and fast to dance to, it’s perfectly fine, but as a song it’s nothing special. Yeah, it’s catchy, and Gaga always sounds in control, but to tell the total truth, this is a little a bland. It could have never lived up to the hype (well, not unless the song was able to fix the economy, or cure cancer), but Gaga’s music is usually more than overstuffed, feel-good pop. It’s not her worst single, but definitely underwhelming.

Oh yeah, then there’s the whole Madonna problem.

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About bgibs122

I enjoy music and music culture; I hope you do, too.
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