Album review: ‘Born This Way’ inspired by Lady Gaga’s social media savvy, and her Little Monsters

Lady Gaga Born This Way Regular and Deluxe Edition Covers, courtesy of PopCrush.com

Three days before the release of her album Born This Way, out now,  Lady Gaga starred in a Google Chrome video that showed her dancing around on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Spliced in were fan-made videos covering her latest Billboard Hot 100 Hit, “The Edge of Glory,” as she sent inspirational messages to them via her website.

And that video is just one of many promotional efforts Gaga employed to ramp up the excitement for one of the year’s most highly-anticipated pop records.

As it stands now, Gaga has officially reached over 10 million followers on Twitter, and over 30 million fans “Like” her Facebook page.  This makes Lady Gaga, a blond-haired, New York-bred, Italian-American Catholic (much like a certain other pop goddess she’s often compared to), more popular than President Obama.

So, either America is wrongly prioritizing, or Gaga is a visionary. Though the former can be true, I’ll argue the latter.

Born This Way is quite the achievement, and though “hype” is such an ugly word, it lives up to its own potential, thanks to an incredibly high-bar music industry standard set by Lady Gaga herself.  This album was her opportunity to bring on the crazy that the world reluctantly embraced (sales of her 2008 debut, The Fame, didn’t pick up until the following year).   With so many millions of people watching, scrutinizing, publicizing and glorifying Lady Gaga’s every move, she had to deliver.

Born This Way is not the greatest album of the decade, as Mother Monster promised. It is a heady adrenaline rush at over an hour long,  that is only squelched by any instance in which Gaga holds back.  For example, “Electric Chapel,” a melancholic 80s coo of a tune, is one of the few moments on Born This Way where Gaga sounds restrained, poised even.

The public is so used to Gaga In The Meat Dress, or Gaga Dying Onstage, that anything other than total Gaga-walk-walk-fashion-baby-move that-bitch-crazy is unacceptable.

Thankfully Born This Way, for the most part, doesn’t beat around the bush.  “Marry the Night,” the album’s opener, is a pummeling assault that hardly lets up. It’s opening church organ sets the tone for a thrilling album that finds Gaga tackling rough sex, religion, famewhoring, immigration, feminism, follicles and unicorns – often simultaneously.

Only Gaga could rope in childhood idols Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band (“Hair,” “The Edge of Glory”) and Queen’s Brian May (“You and I”) for songs that celebrate hair, public intoxication, grandfather love and Nebraska.   And only she could purposefully craft many moments like these that beg you to give the album a gold star for a high WTF factor (See: “Heavy Metal Lovers”).

Only Gaga could mix feminist politics with 90s Berlin house, while rap-singing in German (See: “ScheiBe”).  “I wish that I could be strong with no permission,” the singer pleads over a skittering gay-club unst chorus.  It’s an honest moment for the singer, whose last album, 2009’s The Fame Monster EP, found her about as lively as a vampire in the Twilight movie series.

But perhaps Born This Way’s most impressive accomplishment – despite all the cheese-tastic 80s and 90s Eurotrash-y deliciousness – is how incredibly warmhearted Gaga sounds. She sings here with her whole heart, and the power of her voice is chilling in the right ways. It’s not like The Fame Monster, where Gaga experienced oddly disconnected wanderlust, and as a result, wound up in icy Siberian terrain.

That’s definitely not the case for Born This Way.

Gaga, a star who has always expressed in interviews what religion means to her, sings about her Holy Trinity, in “You and I”:  “It’s my daddy, and Nebraska and Jesus Christ.”  It’s one moment though, not a tactless #trendingtopic throughout a highly trendy, yet trendsetting album, which makes its revelation that much more powerful.

And that’s the beauty of the bigness that is Born This Way – an effort that aims to empower the powerless, and give people reason to celebrate their existence and stuff.  Almost always, Born This Way hits the mark.

It even liberates the always-combustible Lady Gaga, a pint-sized New Yorker who is more popular than the president, a feat that isn’t bad for a second album.

Mickey Woods

 

 

 

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