Review Summary: It doesn’t quite reach the heights found on The Fame and The Fame Monster, but Lady Gaga’s Born This Way is still a decent effort.
At this point, I don’t think that anyone can deny that Lady Gaga is nothing short of a global phenomenon. Coupling her musical talents with her eccentrics and, lately, with her social/political commentaries taking center stage during the past year or so, she’s evolved into something more than a simple pop star, and there’s rarely a time when we’re not focused on what Lady Gaga has done, and what she will do next. So when someone of her stature drops an album, the whole world is going to take notice, making Born This Way
, Gaga’s second full-length album, a worldwide event. Does Gaga succeed in matching the success of 2008’s The Fame
and 2009’s The Fame Monster
EP that spring-boarded her immense popularity, or does she experience the dreaded sophomore slump?
Born This Way
opens up with “Marry The Night”, and right away we get a taste of what Gaga is trying to accomplish: thick, stylized synths and effects coupled with her soaring voice and catchy choruses. After a lounge-type intro, “Marry The Night” breaks into one of the album’s most infectious choruses, and suddenly the listener is swept away in an enveloping electronic atmosphere backed by a sledging beat. With “Marry The Night”, Gaga seems to show off some new elements, namely electric guitars and bigger, heavier beats, giving the entire song a very artistic, personalized feel, and it’s not the only time we experience it on Born This Way
Along with “Marry The Night”, Gaga fans are treated to some other great tracks in the same vein. Her lead single “Born This Way” is next on the list, and even though the political message intertwined with the song is a little overbearing, it succeeds as a successful pop song. “Judas”, her second single, although an obvious “Bad Romance” clone, also makes it hard to shake the chorus from your head. “Americano” is a nice spiritual follow-up to “Alejandro”, featuring a terrific mariachi influence, while “Bloody Mary” is a slower, brooding, semi-ballad that features yet another catchy chorus. “Hair” manages to progress smoothly through the five-minute time frame, while “Edge Of Glory” acts as a terrific closer, featuring much of the elements that made “Marry The Night” such successful opener.
But like most pop albums, the listener gets treated to a lot of questionable filler. First off, although “Scheiße” features one of the album’s most infectious choruses, the replay value is stinted due to Gaga’s unnecessary need to prattle off in German for the song’s first minute, almost ruining the song completely. And while Born This Way
tries to marry a stylized sound with catchy choruses, almost half of the album features songs with plenty of style but very little substance: “Government Hooker” is a plodding, boring track with little momentum, while “Bad Kids” is unbearably bad and completely unfocused. “Heavy Metal Lover” lacks any sort of great hook, while both “Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)” and “Electric Chapel” flirt too closely with atrocious 80s hair metal. Finally, “You And I” would have been a spectacular ballad if not for the incredibly cheesy “We Will Rock You”-esque stomps and claps.
Overall, with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way
, I can’t help but feel that she’s taken a step down in quality from her previous material. While a majority of the album is composed of some highly creative and catchy pop songs, I personally don’t feel that there’s anything here that compares with some of her other legendary songs like “Pokerface” and “Bad Romance”. And on the flip side, while we’ve never really been treated to any Lady Gaga songs that have been offensively bad, we are treated to a handful of tracks on Born This Way
that miss the mark completely. I can’t help but feel Gaga could have done more to keep us entertained for fourteen tracks, but in the end, Born This Way
will stand up as one of the best pop albums of the year, even though the highs aren’t as high as we’re used to, coupled to the fact that we’ve been introduced to some new Gaga lows.