Album Review: Lady Gaga ‘Born This Way’

Born This Way is Lady Gaga’s 2nd official studio album, after 2008’s ‘The Fame’ was spun off in 2009, released as ‘The Fame Monster’ with 8 new tracks.

Since 2009, the Madonna comparisons have escalated, her online following has grown (Gaga now has a Twitter following of over 10 milion ‘little monsters’), and her extreme image has entered bizarre new heights. She was also recently named Time Magazine’s 5th most powerful person in the world. Not bad for a girl who started her career aged 14, playing clubs on New York’s lower east side.

In the run-up to the release, Gaga explained:

The album is my absolute greatest work I’ve ever done and I’m so excited about it. The message, the melodies, the direction, the meaning, what it will mean to my fans and what it will mean in my own life – it’s utter liberation.

Can the most-anticipated album of the 2011 live-up to this kind of hype?

In an interview with the BBC, Lady Gaga commented:

“The album is a marriage of electronic music with major, epic, dare I even say, metal or rock ‘n’ roll, pop, anthemic style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats. It’s finished and all, it’s just fine-tuning everything. It’s kind of like the post-operative stage of the album. I’ve already done the full heart surgery. I’m just sewing myself back up again. I think that lyrically this album is more poetic. It’s really written by the fans, they really wrote it for me because every night they’re funneling so much into me. So I wrote it for them. Born This Way is all about my little monsters and me, mother monster.”

Those ‘sledge-hammering’ dance-pop and euro-pop beats dominate ‘Born This Way’. This is a dance album, first and foremost, built around Gaga’s unique brand of insanely catchy pop songs.

4 tracks have already been released as singles. The title track is unrelenting, a freedom song about embracing who you are, which when matched with latest single ‘Hair’, sets the tone for the whole album. This is Gaga’s freedom record, and it is clear from the outset she’s has been offered free-reign over the creative process.

“I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.”

“I just wanna be myself, and I want you to love me for who I am.  I just wanna be myself and I want you to know, I am my hair. “

Follow-up ‘Judas’ has been less-well-received, heavy rock guitars and synths offering an assault on the ears before a cheesy 80s pop chorus kicks in.

Underneath all the flashy effects and production, there are some real gems here. ‘Edge Of Glory’ was written by Gaga and her father, following her Grandfather’s death, and features a stunning saxophone solo from Clarence Clemens of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band.

Equally, ‘Yoü & I’, produced by Shania Twain’s ex-husband Mutt Lange is a standout, featuring a Hey Jude-style singalong chorus and is sure to be a winner performed live. Here the dance beats are dialed-back to give way to a foot-stomping piano rock anthem.

Perhaps the one thing that ‘Born This Way’ suffers from is too much production. Lady Gaga is at her most talented when sat behind the piano bashing out a simple, stripped-down version of one of her hits. Over the course of this album, adding so many layers of synths, guitars and autotune has the effect of diluting her sound.

In conclusion – this album isn’t going to change the world, but Lady Gaga just might. She’s already a global superstar after just two albums – it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

If you don’t buy the album, download: Born This Way, Edge Of Glory, Yoü & I.

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