REVIEWED IN WORDS Lady Gaga – Born This Way (Interscope)
Sadly, Gaga doesn’t seem to understand the difference between being a ‘product for change’ and a ‘movement for change.’ Or maybe because she’s in the product business that’s all she’s able to offer. But it all comes across a bit self-congratulatory for someone who isn’t exactly Harvey Milk, let alone Harvey Fierstein. Especially since, as a social activist, Gaga dehumanizes everything she touches. Her fans aren’t people like her who happen to like the music, in her eyes they can only be acolytes, disciples. They are her children, and she is their (overbearing, overwrought, overreaching) mother.
But what about the music, you ask? Fine. Born This Way is Lady Gaga’s Be Here Now. It is bloated and too full of itself, hysterically ambitious and consistently half-assed. And like the Gallagher brothers, it sounds like Gaga was doing shitloads of cocaine when she recorded it. The album sounds harsh and trebly, and most of its second half is basically 80s hair metal with a disco beat. In fact, it sounds a lot like this song.
It’s a fucking mess. There’s a difference between having a head full of ideas and simply throwing a bunch of shit against the wall to see if anything sticks.
And yes, if we take this metaphor literally, it does mean that listening to Born This Way is akin to being in a room where the walls are covered in feces.
Fourteen songs, 61 minutes. There’s a song called ‘Highway Unicorn (The Road To Love)’ that sounds like Meatloaf, only more dramatic. There’s a song called ‘You And I’ that sounds for all the world like Shania Twain. There’s a song called ‘Judas’ (a ‘Bad Romance’ rehash where Gaga the gay activist advises her lover, “Don’t wear your condom next time”) and another called ‘Bloody Mary,’ that suggests Gaga is willing to steal Madonna’s lapsed Catholicism as well as her melodies.
I had planned on joking that Born This Way represented the final piece in Bruce Springsteen’s Born trilogy. You know, Born To Run, Born In The USA, and now Born This Way. Then I find out last night that E-Street Band member Clarence Clemons contributed guest saxophone on the album’s last song, ‘The Edge of Glory’ (sadly, the song title is missing a parenthetical ‘Holing’ at its end).
His sax solo goes on for over a minute. Even Springsteen, the Fonzie of rock’n’roll (cred. R. Meltzer), wouldn’t have stood for that shit.
Still, here at Collapse Board we believe in giving credit where credit is due. At least Lady Gaga is making music that — unlike Fleet Foxes — recognizes we are living in the 21st Century. Some of the sounds on the album are jaw-dropping in an electronic avant-garde sense (‘Government Hooker’ is the best at being the weirdest), though these parts rarely last a few seconds before we’re rushed back to the cocaine hair metal disco. And Born This Way is nothing if not timely. In its incoherence, its crass pandering, its desire to be everything at once for all people, will make an ideal soundtrack for the upcoming US presidential election.
Me, I’m voting for this guy.
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