Beneath all the weirdness, Lady Gaga is a savvy artist. Like Madonna before her, Gaga’s strength is taking the best cultural bits of the past few decades and adding a few marabou feathers and some impeccable production values.
It’s worked pretty well for the diminutive 25-year-old, who, in the three years since her debut, has transcended pop stardom right into the realm of pop deity.
Singles off of Gaga’s third album, “Born This Way,” have trickled out gradually over the past months. But Monday’s big reveal offers a cohesive disc that shows Gaga had a plan and a direction all along.
“Bloody Mary” is the culminating step in a pseudo-religious journey from “Alejandro” to “Judas.” “Schise” is half-spoken, half in German and all Gaga: “Love is objectified by what men say is right,” she muses. She’s got some new sound bites for her ongoing “Free to Be You and Me” movement, too: “I am not a freak. I was born with my free gun,” she shouts at the beginning of “Bad Kids.” And it’s worth grabbing the special edition of the record for power anthems such as “Queen.”
It goes without saying that Gaga shows her influences: “Bad Kids” is one of many small-scale Madonna vs. Pat Benatar vs. Blondie battles. “Electric Chapel” steals everything good about Kylie Minogue since the turn of the century. “You and I,” an almost-ballad, feels a little like a passed-over Carrie Underwood B-side.
Despite all expectation, these songs aren’t cliche; they’re the best pop music anyone’s released in a long time. They don’t feel like the glitzy, artificial romps of her previous efforts, “The Fame” and “The Fame Monster.”
This record is Gaga’s manifesto — one of her favorite words. This time, Gaga is out about her identity: She’s a product of her fans and of the times. Without them, there would be nothing monstrous to mother.
The Right Tracks on ‘Born This Way’
Note: You’ll need the special edition of the disc to hear all these selections. A.G.
» “Americano”: As sexually ambiguous as the “Telephone” video, this may well be the conclusion to Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s prison break gone mass homicide gone road trip.
» “Heavy Metal Lover”: A perfectly seductive coda for sweaty summer nights at the club: Gaga waxes on dirty ponies who need to be hosed down.
» “Fashion of His Love”: Gaga’s purely ’80s tribute to her late bestie, Alexander McQueen.
» “Hair”: Katy Perry had her “Firework.” Ke$ha had “We R Who We R.” Gaga’s iteration is more Madonna’s “Express Yourself” than the album’s title track.
» “Government Hooker”: Marching from the ’80s into the ’90s, it’s the disc’s most entertaining track.
Written by Express’ Adam Griffiths