Gaga grabs some blonde ambition
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?