Album review: Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this Way’

Not many have little to say about Lady Gaga. My relationship and understanding of Gaga is complicated. Mainly on a thoughtful level- she is a marketing machine, she rips off queer culture, she uses queers as pawns for fucked up companies like Target, and her intense ego mania has made her the self-declared mother of all freaks. This bullshit pisses me off.

However; I like her music. I like her videos. I enjoy following her in the news. She’s a really unhealthy piece of gay candy that I often indulge in with and without the guilt. So when I was able to get an advanced copy of Born This Way- her 3rd album outside of her monster series- I was more than excited.

Born This Way is her best album so far and is a good example of what a talented and versatile musician that Gaga is. Given the formulaic and boring nature of this albums first hit single- ‘Born This Way’– I was rather surprised about with the complexity and thoughtfulness of this album. And because of this thoughtfulness and complexity- it is her most mature work. And by mature- I mean she has made an album which would appeal to anyones’ mother; any respectable dance party; and a critical listener.

There are a lot of interesting layers to this album. The one I find the most intriguing is frequent use of the soprano sax- an instrument used in most power ballads ranging from past albums of WHAM!, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, and Bonnie Tyler. The songs ‘Hair’ and ‘The Edge of Glory’ are building off of these power songs that are melded really well with dance beats. The track ‘U and I’ is one of Gaga’s broadway ballads in a diva and queer tradition of intense song and performance that Gaga also exemplified in her last album- The Fame Monster with her song ‘Speechless’.

What I like the most about this album is that it is able to bring together contrast in each song. It’s original but completely ripped off. It’s formulaic and highly produced but in a way that has not been done before. It is a marketing juggernaut. An album that listens well as an album but each song is sounds like it was meant to be a single. It’s as if Lady Gaga’s ego mania has reached its apex wherein she believes that each song she creates is part of her greatest hits. She will most likely in the next decade reach the international recognition that transforms a person into a brand. Her name will be recognized with those such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, McDonalds, and Nike. As long as we continue to engage with this piece of popular culture as an image and a brand- things should be fine. Gaga’s songs and performances are not feminist; they are not going to liberate the world from violent homophobia and hetero-normativity; and they most certainly do not exist in a vacuum. Gaga exists because of us not the other way. It’s a piece of enjoyable popular music.

Let’s just enjoy it and leave it as that.

And as an added bonus here’s a couple clips from Gaga’s weekend appearance on Saturday Night Live.

4 comments to Album review: Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this Way’

  • Renee Babette via Facebook

    Way to go, Katey Pants! I can think of no one better to straight talk us about such an interesting, if unwanted by some, queer icon.

  • Renee Babette via Facebook

    Also, your writing voice is so true to you that I can actually hear you rasping out these lines. Love it!

  • Also the post includes embeds of all 4 SNL videos: a skit, the 3 way digital short and her 2 musical performances

  • 5/23 at
    Today only, get “Born This Way,” the entire brand-new 14-song MP3 album by Lady Gaga, for just $0.99. Play your music on the web or on Android with Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player. For a limited time, buy any album, including this one, and get 20 GB of Cloud Drive storage for free.