Saturday, May 21, 2011

Born This Way - Album Review

I usually don't feel the need to justify myself before writing a review but I have been taking the piss out of Lady Gaga rather frequently around here due to her sticky fingers, so I thought I'd start by bringing your attention to this link. It's my 2009 'best of' countdown. As you can see, I ranked "The Fame Monster" the second best album of that year and hailed it "the new measuring stick for dance-pop". And I still stand by that. When Lady Gaga is making solid pop music without desperately trying to be outrageous or groundbreaking, she is almost unbeatable. Like a demented cross between Madonna, Britney and someone with actual talent - she lifts pop to dark and dangerous new heights. Take "Bad Romance". To this day that song gives me chills. Strip away the "rah rah rahs" and you're left with one of the most honest 'Dear John' letters ever committed to music.

I guess that's half the reason the beginning of the new era has irked me so much - it's all image and hype. Lady Gaga can talk about tackling the big issues until the pointy implants in her face explode but nothing she has released since "Dance In The Dark" - her last great single - has connected with me at all. Happily, there is a lot to like about "Born This Way" when you dig beneath the unnecessary trappings but it doesn't change the fact that the album crumbles under the weight of her own ego. Mother monster needs to stop advocating for minorities that (she mistakenly believes) imbue her with credibility and put together a cohesive album. She's so busy trying to prove she can do everything that she ends up doing very little right. One minute the most powerful woman in pop is bringing back 90s house, then reviving disco, before moving on to 80s soft rock and the industrial rave scene. Her fans call it eclectic and Lady Gaga herself has gushed that this is the album she has always wanted to make. I'm sorry bitch but that doesn't make it good. Just unforgivably self-indulgent. At its worst, "Born This Way" sounds like the soundtrack to a beginner's party at the Hellfire club. At its best, the album reminds me of a mixtape my mum might have made back in 1987 with heavy lashings of Starship, Laura Branigan and Foreigner! It's no masterpiece but definitely salvageable. Here is my track by track review below:

Marry The Night

This is the song Lady Gaga premiered on Facebook application Farmville. I'm guessing people who tend to imaginary sheep don't hit up the club all that often but whatever. "Marry The Night" is a rather inoffensive if somewhat stillborn opener. Which is surprising because I love Fernando Garibay and he usually brings the best out of Gaga. The explosive introduction is exciting and raised my expectations until the song changes pace and becomes a rather strange mish-mash of 80s Bruce Springsteen and bad 90s techno. It definitely has its moments and has grown on me immensely but the track lacks the catchy hook that Lady Gaga usually does better than anyone.

Born This Way

I've already said enough about this heinous mess. "Born This Way" makes me ashamed to be gay. If we've reached the point where we need a middle-class, heterosexual attention seeker who looks like a 47-year-old transvestite to advocate on our behalf with the supposedly uplifting message that we're all freaks but still deserve love and acceptance then I'm out. There is nothing joyous or inclusive about the lyrics and Gaga can deny ripping off "Enjoy Yourself" all she likes but the similarities are undeniable. Everything about this makes my skin crawl.

Government Hooker

Yuck. If any song sums up what is wrong with Lady Gaga circa 2011 then this is it. "Government Hooker" is the most pretentious song you will hear all year. From the pointless lyrics to messy production, this is one big cry for attention. I could probably cope with an instrumental because there are some interesting flourishes but what exactly is the point of this? To prove that Gaga is cool and edgy and can write lyrics about sex workers and dead presidents? Bitch, please go back to riding that disco stick and leave the faux intellectualism to someone with more to say. I will give her credit for the high camp operatic intro though.


The fame monster's unauthorised remake of Loli Lux's stunning "WannaBE" is the biggest flop of her career. And for a while looked like it would derail the incredible momentum she had built over the past two years. The problem is that "Judas" is a massive step backwards. It's a fairly standard RedOne production that sticks to the tried and tested "Bad Romance" formula without bringing anything new or fresh to the table. Even the religious imagery that pervades the lyrics in getting boring. Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys did this shtick better in the 80s - it's not shocking, just lazy and boring. And then there's the chorus that sounds like the worst song Aqua never released. Having listened to the rest of the album, Gaga must have been smoking crack when she chose this as the second single. There are so many better songs on "Born This Way".


By this point I was lamenting the death of my love affair with Lady Gaga. I thought the time had come to throw my paws into the air one last time and leave the monsterhood for good. "Americano" is so fucking lame it needs a walking stick. A sad re-imagining of "Alejandro" that combines Mariachi music with bad Euro-disco, the track apparently tackles heady issue of illegal immigration. It's as hideous as it sounds. If the prospect of a white woman singing chunks of a song in bad Spanish before breaking into the occasional burst of "la la la" then this is for you. If not, do your ears a favour and press delete. This is the worst song Fernando Garibay has ever put his name to. Shame.


Just when I was ready to write of "Born This Way" as a total trainwreck, along came "Hair" and instantly revived my interest in the project. One of the many buzz singles released to promote the album pre-release, this got lost in the circle jerk over "The Edge Of Glory" but I think it's every bit as good. Although not quite as amazing as Ashley Tisdale's genre-defining song of the same name. But back to Gaga. This is just a solid, I am who I am pop song that I can imagine Cydni Lauper belting out in the 80s. It's fun, catchy and genuinely uplifting. RedOne is such a strange producer. He's done more for recycling that Planet Ark but occasionally he pulls one out of the bag and I love this odd hybrid of 80s Starship-esque pop and dance elements. Great use of sax too. This has to be a single.


As it turns out, Lady Gaga - I can speak German and your pathetic attempt at butchering my mother tongue in a bizarre bid for Teutonic chic is an epic fail. It doesn't even make sense. Is this some kind of anthem for scat lovers or just a lame attempt to revive late 90s house? Whatever the case may be the title accurately describes the song. This is shit.

Bloody Mary

The dubiously talented DJ behind "Government Hooker" returns for "Bloody Mary" - a song that has been singled out by many critics as one of the album's highlights and a future single. I'm not that enthusiastic about it but it is definitely one of the most straightforward floorfillers on "Born This Way". It's like a less intense but more authentic "Judas". The lyrics are less ambitious but they work and there's something hypnotic about the simple chorus. Not great but not bad at all. And if the rumours about this becoming a single I implore Lady Gaga not to ruin it by sitting on a crucifix shaped dildo in the video. Because we all know that's the moment she's been waiting for her whole life.

Bad Kids

"Bad Kids" is everything I want from Mother Monster - a fun pop song with a catchy chorus and universal lyrics. This encapsulates the sentiment I think Lady Gaga wanted to say with "Born This Way" until her pretentious streak got in the way. "I'm not that cool and you hate me, I'm a bad kid that's the way that they made" sings the diva against the crispest 80s beats to hit the airwaves since the glory days of Stacey Q. Who didn't feel like that as a teenager? There's something organically anthemic about "Bad Kids" that makes it a standout on the album. I know that Lady Gaga likes to sing about being shunned and different but more often than not it strikes me as a marketing exercise. This, however, no doubt comes from a time in her past when she was just a mannish teenager called Stefani. Credit must go to producer Jeppe Laursen (of Junior Senior) for bringing the diva back down to earth.

Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)

This has singled out by some critics as the worst song on "Born This Way" but I kind of like its 80s hair band on acid sound palette. Sure, the lyrics are completely inane but I love the hands in the air chorus and I can imagine singing along to this in the car. As long as I was sure no one was listening. The production meanders and it's generally a bit of a mess but I find this kind of good natured experimentation a lot more forgivable than something like "Government Hooker" or "Scheiße".

Heavy Metal Lover

"I want your whiskey mouth all over my blond south" is the worst lyric of the year. I'm sorry but a song about eating Lady Gaga's pussy was always going to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Pun intended. I get the frenzied monster response to this. It's pure filth and the sleazy beats are great - I'd love to hear a dub - but it's nothing but distracting filler for me.

Electric Chapel

Now I know bringing up plagiarism claims are a big no no when it comes to Gaga but damn this reminds me of The Cardigans' classic "Losing My Favourite Game". Those "do do dos" are so familiar and I think she's lifted the guitar riff too but whatever. This is a nice song and sometimes you don't have to break new ground to deliver a decent pop song. Ever since "Speechless" I've been wanting Lady Gaga to explore her inner rock chick and she almost does it here but her current obsession of mixing guitars with electronic elements takes over yet again. My problem here is the lyrics. What exactly is this song about? I just get visions of Elvis weddings in Las Vegas but knowing mother monster it's probably about resolving the Middle East conflict or famine in Africa.

Yoü And I

This has been doing the rounds for a while now. Lady Gaga has performed it during her Monster's Ball tour for the best part of a year and the studio version isn't all that different. Produced by Mutt Lange, "Yoü And I" - what is with that fucking umlaut? - is this album's "Speechless" or "Brown Eyes". An overwrought piano rock ballad that is supposed to highlight the diva's versatility but just sounds like a Richard Marx B-side. I can't help but think Mutt would have been better off giving this to his ex-wife. Shania Twain would have nailed this. Gaga tries so hard to imbue it with pathos and meaning that it ends up being an empty exercise of vocal acrobatics. If nothing else it gives her something new to sing behind a flaming piano on the next tour. Distinctly average.

The Edge Of Glory

First things first. This does sound very similar to Soraya's iconic 2008 smash "Sin Miedo" with a bit of Cher's "Song For The Lonely" thrown in for good measure. But they are two of my favourite songs of all time, so anything that borrows elements from them was always going to be a winner. I'm not convinced that this is the masterpiece that some have held it out to be (now that I've listened to them back to back a couple of times I think I prefer "Hair") but there's no denying it's a great song. There's a real sense of melancholy that permeates the verses, which only serves to make the explosive chorus all the more joyous. I love the now or never theme that runs through the lyrics and applaud Gaga from not making stupid noises or randomly singing in a different language. She has treated this song with the respect it deserves and Fernando Garibay moulds the craziest mix of Eurovision ready pop with "Born To Run" Bruce Springsteen. I even love the crazy sax solo. "The Edge Of Glory" is a worthy addition to Gaga's cannon of hits and deserves to sit proudly next to "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance". I just hate the fact that she will ruin the video with those stupid face implants but whatever. This is a reminder of what Lady Gaga is capable of when she just lets the music flow. It also underlines how sub par the vast majority of the rest of the album is.



tommie said...

She is so shit. I give her 0/10.

Thank God for Ke$hu$ Kri$t!

Anonymous said...

middle class doesn't quite cut it, i just read an article stating her father was made chairmen of the company in charge of the on/off switch for the internet in '99. puts into perspective the insane monopoly she has over all corporate entities in the digital world right now, it's beyond interscope.

Bruce said...

Stillborn This Way.


Can't wait to actually hear this mess so I can love to hate to love it as much as you don't!

Seth said...

I agree with you Mike, this album is just beyond being shit. Filled with pretentious tracks and songsthat are WAY too long, just to make it look "more nifty". Altough i sort of think that Scheibe and Government Hooker are the only good moments on the album, the rest comes in pretty bland, safe, boring and plain mediocre.

This isn't the masterpiece that is The Fame Monster.

Diva Incarnate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

BITCH PUH-LEAZE! You have lost all credibility!

You dis this but proclaim Beotchoncé' latest piece of shite a masterpiece?

Are you for real? And I love it how you don't mention how her latest excrement has been a REAL FLOP all over the world.

Seriously, bitch. You ain't black.

Bloody Mary said...

Lady gaga has created the greatest album of the last two decades that breathes new life into the genre of pop music taking it in brave new directions that have never been explored by a popular artist. She has created the soundtrack for our lives that will go down in history next to The White Album and St Pepper. 11/10

Mike B said...

Even worse than The Fame. She continues to get trashier as time goes on.

Anonymous said...

I think your review, if anything, is quite generous. To me, having finally heard the album, I'm surprised nobody has likened it to Confessions, which was obviously a good few years too early for the US market if suddenly they think 4/4 eurodance is "new". It wasn't even new when Confessions came out, but at least it had feeling and didn't have its head this far up its own ass.

Anonymous said...

You just wish your cock was as big as Gaga's. Your blog is getting very tired, lame and predictable. Blah.

noelster_sf said...

This is such a well thought out and articulate review it makes me love coming to this site to check out the best of pop trash even more. <3 I completely co-sign the disappointment over this album and the hype that has built up has been so ridiculous when listening to each song as it's leaked. as gaga has become more of a corporate schill and less of the rebel she was in 'fame monster' (wtf, farmville? SRSLY) songs like 'born this way' no matter the intent come off as shallow and opportunistic pandering that leaves me scratching my head and pressing 'replay' on 'born this way' again and again.

Chris said...

Actually I have never been a big fan of Lady Gaga but I like "Born This Way". Then came "Judas" and all I could think was WTF? :D But now there are some songs on the Album I really like. Which came as a big surprise as I really think it would be shit from beginning to end.

And although German also happens to be my mother tongue (didn't know till today that Mike speaks German) I must admit I like "Scheiße". It is funny that she thinks she might sing German words but everybode in Germany just keeps wondering what the hell she is singing. :D And the song keeps sticking in my ear everytime I hear it.

a.d.R.I.a.n. said...

Why does everyone hate on Government Hooker!? lol It, along with Electric Chapel and Schiebe are my favorites lol

The album is okay. Nothing amazing.

kotsos4ever10 said...

Lady gaga has created the greatest album of the last two decades that breathes new life into the genre of pop music taking it in brave new directions that have never been explored by a popular artist.

-Agreed with Bloody Mary.-

Wide Open said...

The word verification for to leave a comment is "fistin" - tee hee!

cotdeath said...

The opnion of anyone who prefers Ke$ha, a disease riddled crack whore over this incredible talent, is irrelvant.

Me said...

Take away the overhype, pretentiousness, "zany" fashions, cheap publicity stunts, self-proclaimed Saviour Of The Gays title and the quasi-religious icon status the VILE attention whore Stefanny CRAPalotta has bestowed on herself and what are you left with? A piss-poor Madonna wannabe that when not blatantly ripping off the Crone Of Pop is stealing from every 80's diva before recycling her own aural turds and oh so tired lack of ideas...

Nothing On Shit Piss Bouquet is in any way anthemic, creative, original, edgy, appealing, listenable, inspirational or anything that it is supposed to be. Only lobotomized MONGsters who jumped on the CaCaizdabwezt1111 bandwagon will enjoy it - until the inevitable FLOP when the rancid titless blunder trips over her own ego.

To think that she managed one decent track on The Shame and three decent tracks on The Shame MONGster only to manage a whopping ZERO on this abomination...

Worst album since DULLta's self-titled shitefest 0/10

Richard said...

I thought this album would be good. Needless to say, it was terrible. Brilliant review!

Calen said...

Mike, I love you.

I wholeheartedly agree with this review.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Lady Gaga's album is horrible. I think tried to stray a little out of her comfort zone. In some ways it worked for her and in some ways not so much. However, I do not believe the album is a complete failure considering there are still a few good songs on it. I think the hype came only a little bit from Gaga. I mean sure she pushed the album but I think the press did more. How can an artist not push their own work? Also the fact that it was so waited for was because of the fans not her. Obviously The Fame, and The Fame Monster were waaay better, but i think if she just tries to keep to her style she can make more hits. I think she just thought people wanted something new. You know Gaga she cant stay with one idea for too long it will get "boring."

Justin said...

LMFAO at the retarded DELUDED monsters defending this abomination. She is not breaking boundaries and this album WILL not go down as one of the greatest of all time. What kind of fucking drugs are some of you on?

Nasty G said...

Though I don't agree with you for the most part on which songs are good and which aren't on this (though Born This Way and Judas ARE drivel), I do agree with your overall comments and review. It's half amazing, half crap. Not at all what I was hoping for, but somehow I've also listened to the good tracks on repeat, so... Anyway, I think you did an awesome job here with your analysis. :)

Anonymous said...

The album is shit, however "Government Hooker" is the only decent track on the album. It's actually NEW for her (considering this is the sound of S&M nightclubs all over the world) to do unlike the rest of the album.

In saying that: "Middle-class" she is not. She had a fairly privileged childhood. So if anything she's an "Upper-class" cunt.

Emma said...

Americano is not about illegal immigration, it's about gay marriage.

The umlaut appears over the u in Yoü and I because it's a tribute to her relationship with Lüc Carl.

Anonymous said...

The whole album follows one concept, one message, one beat, same chorus pattern. Everything just sounds too redundant, she keep repeating things, makes me feel as if she is talking to deaf people. All she wants is to be called the best or seen as the best, she is pushing herself too hard, she wants to impress people all the time. Worst written album of 2011, lyrics are too childish, A 12year old can write better !!! Complete mediocre !!! Worst than the Fame. 4.5/10

Anonymous said...

r u fucking kidding me u no nothing about born this way or madonna becuz in this blog post u said enjoy yourself not express yourself and plus lady gaga said madonna is her inspiration in born this way and also sheibe the song wasnt meant to be german it was supposed to be a made up language based on german and bloody mary is one of the greatest songs in the album if u think lady gaga is getting suckier the truth is u r (btw im not a little monster but i think im going to be)

Anonymous said...

I think the metaphorical genius that is Scheisse is lost on a lot of people. The 'German' is meant to be gibberish, its complete bullshit. Just like the stigma that is put upon women, she is saying that if it is wrong or 'shit' for women to act however they like then it is 'shit' that she wants, scheisse scheisse be mine.
That is my interpretation anyway

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, if you are going to write a review, please know what the hell you are reviewing. In "Schiesse" the broken German is on purpose. If you actually listened to the song, the first line states "I don't speak German but I can if you like." Also, every song you hate is the ones most people love and the songs you love, most people hate. Schiesse, Government Hooker and 
You and I are the three best songs on the album. Not saying this album is a masterpiece cause I feel she rushed it  and it suffered considerably but it's not as horrible as you are saying. 

ryan said...

I loved this album. It is catchy and different. People have problem with change and that's why they don't like the album. Born This Way Rocked!! Gaga your albums don't disappoint. Bring on the next album!!! hehe

Anonymous said...

Its strange that all the songs like Judas, Sheibe and Americano are much more popular than Bad Kids and Hair. You and I is one of my favourite songs ever. I hate Bad kids and Hair but really like most of the other songs. I'd Give BTW 8/10. Its almost as if Gaga is changing pop. I love it. I hope she makes a album with 50% of the songs like BTW but the rest dance songs like from The Fame Monster. She would make the best album ever that way :)

Buddy said...

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Sterling750 said...

I find the album rather genius personally. I think we are so used to hearing generic pop, that when something new, different, and innovative comes out, we dismiss it right away calling it "a sad plunge" or simply garbage, when in fact our standards have become garbage. Lyrically Born This Way is GaGa's best, as is the detail to attention. I agree with you that Hair and The Edge of Glory are GaGa's best on the album, but the other songs are not half of what you make them out to be. Government Hooker is about the media/government controlling you, and Marry the Night is one of my favorites that refers to GaGa's days in New York, an inspiration to her creativity. Yes the album is most def not for everyone, but it is by no means 6/10, I would give it 8/10 possibly even 9, the album mixed up the pop world which I like, the pop industry needs to be poked every once and a while and I believe GaGa has done this well, with a smart disco stick in hand

AdiSin said...

I strongly disagree....;
Even I was not a big fan of Born this Way (single) at first... but it does have a catch to it. i fell in love with Judas at the first play itself...the rocky beats in the background are so electrifying! You n I can be called as the "speechless" of the album; but the purpose of these songs serve as a reminder that Gaga is a piano-ballad performer first; and then a pop-artist. And if you may have paid attention; she does say "I can't speak German" in the beginning of Schiese but then confesses "But I can if you like"... And just for you to know, the song is about feminism. Marry the night is currently my most favorite Gaga song...reason: The lyrics are inspirational enough (maybe I understood the depth coz I am a songwriter myself) and theres just so much going around in the background. There are church-bells; some techno synths and disco beats. Also, I must say that I have never heard anything like Government Hooker before. Bloody Marry used to creep me out in the beginning; but then I just started humming with the tune. Heavy METAL LOVER is pretty good as well cause I've never heard that bass loop before! The whole album is new and not a rip-off because what she has done today; nobody dared to do it since thats not exactly ripping off, is it? And before I end the note...The whole Lalbum represents her....cause unlike the other artists, she puts her heart and soul in each and every song of hers and not just her vocals