Gaga grabs some blonde am­bi­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - JAR­RAD BE­VAN

IT’S hard to fault the scale of her am­bi­tion but through­out Born This Way Lady Gaga just tries way too hard. It’s more weird than won­der­ful, more bonkers than bril­liant.

In short, the al­bum is a hot mess. It’s a bit pop, a lit­tle ’ 80s metal, a dash ’ 90s rave – which would be fine if she didn’t in­sist on throw­ing in the kitchen sink at ev­ery song.

Mu­si­cally, the re­sults are con­fus­ing. And of­ten, with so much hap­pen­ing, her mes­sage gets buried. Take Gov­ern­ment Hooker as a prime ex­am­ple of the heavy beats and noises drown­ing out the main at­trac­tion.

Like Kanye West be­fore her, she needs an edi­tor – some­one to tell her that not ev­ery idea is the new sliced bread. The am­a­teur­ish al­bum cover is a case in point. When her themes shine through they are, con­sid­er­ing her young au­di­ence, com­mend­able ones such as ‘‘ fol­low your heart’’. But it doesn’t hap­pen of­ten enough.

Hair is a song about self-em­pow­er­ment. It’s stronger than any of the sin­gles Gaga has re­leased in the lead-up to this new al­bum. But for ev­ery Hair, there is a teeth-jar­ring song like Ju­das – pompous, overblown, an­noy­ing. With bet­ter ex­e­cu­tion this could have been a song about love gone wrong and an at­trac­tion to bad boys. In­stead it’s a dud.

There are two mo­ments that give hope for her fu­ture – Edge of Glory and You And I – the only songs where she tones down the wacky fac­tor.

Glory, in par­tic­u­lar, is a ripper. A ro­man­tic bal­lad and an ode to her grand­fa­ther, it’s backed by an E Street Band-style sax­o­phone.

Let’s speak briefly about the al­bum’s ti­tle track and lead sin­gle Born This Way. It was sup­posed to be a joy­ous, cel­e­bra­tory an­them but in­stead sounds like a poor man’s ver­sion of Madonna’s Ex­press Your­self – a to­tal rip-off.

Yet she seems com­pletely obliv­i­ous to the fact she’s bor­rowed so heav­ily.

Gaga says the song came to her in just 10 min­utes. Well, there’s a good rea­son for that . . .

The big­gest is­sue is Gaga veers dan­ger­ously close to Fake­town. By in­ject­ing ev­ery sec­ond with so much silli­ness, the al­bum be­comes generic, limp, unau­then­tic. At worst, it sounds forced, which is at odds with what she’s aim­ing for.

By her own choice, she’s not so much a singer as a theatre act and therein lies the prob­lem. So much time is spent on cul­ti­vat­ing the cult of Gaga that she’s for­got­ten to pay at­ten­tion to the im­por­tance of song­writ­ing.

A wild style and nutty im­age are no sub­sti­tute for the sim­ple act of writ­ing good songs.

David Bowie man­aged both at once, but what is the point of a fancy stage show, crazy film­clip or mes­sage-send­ing meat dress if your mu­sic stinks?

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