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Not Your Teenage Sister's Gaga
on May 23, 2011
If you come into Born This Way and expect to hear the exact same type of dance-pop that laced The Fame and, to a lesser extent, The Fame Monster, you will likely be a bit disappointed with this album. It isn't bubblegum.
Have you ever looked up videos of a young Gaga on YouTube? Have you watched stripped down performances of her dance-pop singles? If you have then you should realize that at her heart Lady Gaga is a rocker chick who has an instinctive ability to break these songs down to a pop enough core that they connect with a broader audience. However, in Born This Way, Gaga didn't feel the need to break the songs down as far as she did previously.
I think this is smart as it keeps her about 30 paces ahead of the Gaga mimickers who have sprung up during the past two years and the established stars who have transitioned to trying to claim a piece of her thunder (Katy Perry, I love your music too, but your public persona has become more and more Gaga in the past 18 months.)
Gaga really shows off her voice in Born This Way - in a much more clear and resonant manner than she was able to with The Fame. "Marry the Night," "Electric Chapel," "Edge of Glory" and "You and I" are show pieces from this perspective. Electric Chapel and Marry the Night are superb fun to listen to.
In reference to comments in a prior review about "Judas" and "Bloody Mary." The in-your-face parallels in songs like Judas and Bloody Mary are poetic in their power while not getting too broken down in the details of a bad relationship. Judas without the name of Judas as the song would become another cliche about loving someone who always betrays that love. By using the name Judas, it is given from the start that this is betrayal at its most extreme and the song can operate more freely within its dance beat without having to explain this fact throughout 2 verses and an extended bridge cycle. I, personally, don't really understand people who freak out about her writing a song with the name Judas as the title. It was probably chosen simply because Benedict Arnold didn't fit the rhythm as well.
Sorry for the ranting, but really, read some poetry and come back to the imagery in Lady Gaga's songs and let us know if it's still complicated. I'm thinking it will not be.
I think if you are looking for a different but well-crafted Gaga sound, you will find it in Born This Way. The sounds are powerful, the lyrics cleverly crafted and the voice stunning. (Stunning because Gaga lets her songs lead her voice instead of constantly having to show off how well she sings.) If you want pure pop, you will not find it here.
ETA: The bonus tracks definitely add a spark to the CD. I like the dance-esque remixes for work-outs. If you can grab Born This Way for a cheap price the first week of release, do that and then download the special edition tracks separately. After the sale prices end, just splurge on the Special Edition.