Lady Gaga / Born This Way / Universal
Even though it is billed as Lady Gaga’s second album, Born This Way has a very rich and very well loved couple of older sisters that it will inevitably be graded up against – The Fame and Gaga’s 2009 follow-up EP The Fame Monster. Both yielded more than their fair share of singles and fashion statements and iconic videos and, well, before she even got underway with Born This Way Gaga definitely had her work cut out for her. Would she answer critics with a really weird, “difficult” second album? Would she put out another dance hits compilation guaranteed to gobble up the maximum amount of radio play? Would she collapse under the pressure? Upon listening, it’s clear that she didn’t collapse; she’s definitely back and she brought hit-making writer/producer RedOne with her. However, the degree to which she accomplished either of those other two possibilities is a little less clear.
A discotheque-approved beat is pretty much uniform across all 14 tracks, excluding the country rock “You and I” – but influences in instrumentation abound, ranging from spaghetti-western-esque mariachi (“Americano”) to house (“Judas”) to German industrial (“Government Hooker”). Things get more abstract on “Scheibe” with its unexplained German-sung intro, but not really “Marilyn Manson weird” or “Maynard James Keenan weird”. There are probably some bizarre videos on their way that might make me regret this statement, but for all of Gaga’s kooks and image, she’s not that avant-garde of a songwriter – and this album might be what brings many people around to that fact. “Hair” and “Marry The Night” might not have ’80s pop princesses threatening lawsuits for copyright infringement, but they still sound like you’ve heard them before.
Download: “Born This Way”, “You And I”
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