Why we should buy an album? Obviously for the music. Unfortunately the “normal” answer is not quite the right one. As music becomes part of the entertainment industry and artist becomes brands, just like with the clothing, we pay for and buy the brand. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta aka Lady GaGa conquered the world after releasing her debut “The Fame” in 2008 with some catchy songs, singable choruses, “Poker Face”, “Paparazzi” and later “Bad Romance” from “The Fame Monsters” (2009) were strike at first, easy to memorize, singable, catchy songs. Sledge hammering dance beats, plodding keyboard patterns, pumping drums are not necessarily everything, not without melodies. “Born This Way” seems to be written for performances as part of the show where music mainly becomes secondary and much more matters the costumes, the scenography, the dancers, the lights and lasers and well, for the singer it becomes difficult to focus on singing while she have a main role in the show and have to dance as well, so complicated or consumptive vocal scores are not quite recommended. Lady GaGa becomes part of a pop cabaret, a traveling circus and her music is only an accessory of the whole picture. And that brings be back to the beginning. In that case, if this is “only” a soundtrack, part of a bigger production, why we should buy the album?
Well, Lady GaGa seems to thought about everything and everybody as long as she promised that it would be the album of the decade. “Mary the Night” is a self-indulgent ballad switched up and pitched up, which reminds me of pop hits of the 80s such as “Maria Magdalena” by Sandra. “Born This Way”, hyped by (Sir) Elton John as a “new gay anthem”, to reference post-queer theory texts, isn’t one of its strong points. Club-orientated pop in Madonna’s foot-steps and shadow with left-over 80s synth sounds over-tuned, pizzicato strings and operatic vocals, actually do not really impress. “Government Hooker” have incisive grooves and the hooks that made out of “Poker Face” such a great songs, but I don’t really believe that the record label would be interested to promote it as single. “Put your hands on me John F. Kennedy”..? “Judas” bring us back to the patterns of “Bad Romance”. “Americano” aims to the crown of Shakira, it’s a blending of gypsy and latino tunes into dance music. “Hair” is much better than the leading single “Born This Way”, identity questions are spiced with irony – “I am my hair” -, still, I don’t see any use of the cheesy trumpet. “ScheiÃŸe” bring a little bit from the Berlin taste-like techno. “Bloody Mary” slow down to a fade semi-ballad. “Bad Kids” it’s a mixture of 80s pop with 90s dance sounds, reminds me of P!nk eventually, kind of reiteration of “I’m a jerk”, “I’m a bitch”, “I’m a selfish punk” and cliches like this. “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)” push us back to the dance floor, well, if you feel like dancing. “Heavy Metal Lover” in contrast with it’s “noisy” title slow down again and grinding in the 80s EMB/techno style. “Electric Chapel” take off from a quite surprising guitar riff to become a dance floor anthem. It’s a quite good sound production. “YoÃ¼ and I” have the air of the 70s rock anthems with resonances from The Beatles pushed to the 90s while the chorus phantomatically reminds me of “Hey Jude” style singalong and Janis Joplin with an ending of “What’s Up” by 4 None Blondes. “The Edge of Glory” close the set in pumping disco rhythms and it may be an anthem while it’s the third single of the album.
“Itâ€™s a triumph in sound engineering” – the NME rushed to declare. Well, it’s sounds ok, but not that glorious. Or eventually it may be the victory of technology over art (music).
If we compare it with Britney Spears’ “Femme Fatale”, “Born This Way” is brilliant, but if we compare it to some real brilliant dance-pop albums – mainly released back in the 80s… – well, this is not so brilliant anymore, actually it’s quite boring, tasteless and fade.
Which brings me back again to the beginning. “Born This Way” seems to be the soundtrack for Lady GaGa’s following tour performance, the music it’s secondary, part of an elaborate entertainment construction, but there’s actually not too much music. So, why we should buy the album?
“Born This Way” is scheduled for a worldwide release on May 23, 2011 and against all the desperate efforts of US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the whole album leaked out to the intern shortly after its debut on May 18, 2011 on the music streaming service Spotify in Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, Finland, and Spain, as well as on Metro.Co.Uk in the United Kingdom.
Lady GaGa – Official Site
Lady GaGa – on MySpace