Album Review: Lady Gaga, Born This Way

Ok, ok. So if Trent Reznor produced a Cindy Lauper album…no, wait. Ok. If Trent Reznor produced a Bruce Springsteen album, except Tina Turner sang….dang. Ok, I’m pretty sure we need to involve Trent Reznor, and I’m sure we need some pop from the ’80s. The stuff that was popular in the 80s, not the stuff from the 80s that people like now (Yes, they’re different).

In short, this album is good. Gaga is very good as self-promotion, so when she began calling her new album “amazing” a year ago, I was a bit skeptical. Hopeful, but skeptical. Now it’s arrived. Born This Way doesn’t sound like her previous albums, but it’s good and it’s interesting! On the other hand, a lot of people have accused her of essentially stealing other peoples songs. A number of these melodies sound suspiciously like other songs…

It doesn’t take malicious intent to lift a melody. I don’t mean to downplay the similarities, which are obvious and undeniable. There’s plenty of melodies which are suspiciously similar to other melodies, like Tina Turner’s “I Need a Hero,” and even Gaga’s “Poker Face.” However, most songwriters accidentally write someone else’s song every now and then; they just catch it before they get very far! I once wrote a song, and almost finished recording it before I realized it was essentially Radiohead’s “Electioneering.” This isn’t uncommon. It’s just that most people realize it, or someone else points it out, and they scratch that song and start working on another! The question here isn’t why Gaga is so dumb or lazy she had to steal someone else’s work. The question is “why didn’t it get recognized (long) before it was released?”

That said…

There’s some killer pop on here.You may not think too much of pop. It’s not as glamorous a form as a sonnet. On the other hand, what it is, Gaga rocks like the proverbial hurricane. “Americano” mixes Latin American rhythms into Gaga’s club music, and it works. Good lord, does it work…The next track mixes Gaga with New Wave, a common blend on this album. Think maybe Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time” and “Poker Face.” This combination seems less innovative, because it’s a path that’s been walked before. But then, who expects every single song to be completely original? Heck, who expects any song to be completely original? “Bloody Mary” is some sort of…gregorian chants and Gaga? Works. It’s pretty catchy.

I think the questions that are being asked of this album point out both its tremendous strength and its weaknesses. Complaints that Gaga’s music isn’t original show that she is being held to a high standard (which she encourages). After all, how much pop music is original? In spite of this, she manages to do some things that really are original, at least by the standards of the genre. Most of Born This Way is catchy, but there are some distinctly lukewarm tracks. “Highway Unicorn,” on top of reusing the melody from “Poker Face,” just isn’t that good. It does bring unicorns to the dance floor, but…

I think the best standard may be to compare Born this Way to her earlier albums. The Fame was almost completely filled with radio-ready singles. The only exceptions, in my mind, were “Brown Eyes,” “Money Honey,” and “Summer Boy.” That’s eleven or so songs that could be radio singles. That’s a remarkable accomplishment, which she repeated a year later on The Fame Monster. It wasn’t particularly original, and it was very well done. Born This Way is much, much more original, but that creates some songs that aren’t going to be incredible singles.

Overall, Born This Way is a mixed bag. Basically it’s good, and I’m glad to own it. However, some stuff just doesn’t work that well, and some songs aren’t that catchy. Everything is either great or very mediocre. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

    • chris mortimer
    • June 19th, 2011

    Would like to see Trent Reznor and Lady Gaga do a colaboration, and not just one song, but a whole album.
    She is celebrated for her postivity and he for his negativity, I think it makes perfect sense to combine both and see what comes out of pandora’s box.

  1. February 2nd, 2012

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