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Lady Gaga - Born This Way the Tenth Anniversary Music Album Reviews

Lady Gaga - Born This Way the Tenth Anniversary Music Album Reviews
A decade ago, Lady Gaga created an enormous, bravura flex of electronic pop. An anniversary edition arrives with six “reimagined” versions of its songs by LGBTQ+ artists and allies.

Lady Gaga was wrapped in raw beef when she announced her third album at 2010’s MTV VMAs. The meat dress was only a warm-up. Born This Way, first released in May 2011, is a bravura flex of electronic pop as big as a Bosch canvas that charges between hair metal riffs, taint-tightening bass, and synths that crackle like hot coals. On her best front-to-back album, Gaga belts each crushing hook with every fiber of her chest, with personal pain turned into placard-ready manifestos. She sings like she’s making a blood pact.

In a way she was. On Born This Way, Gaga, who is bisexual, made pop her pulpit and pledged her fight for LGBTQ+ rights in alliance with her young, queer fanbase. In February 2011, the album’s bright, brash title track became the first U.S. No. 1 hit to directly reference the trans community, with the lyrics, “No matter gay, straight, or bi/Lesbian, transgender life/I’m on the right track, baby/I was born to survive.”

As if to reinforce that these songs are for everyone, Gaga now marks 10 years of Born This Way with six “reimagined” versions of its songs by LGBTQ+ artists and allies. It works best when they scorch the earth. Big Freedia, who was supposed to be part of the album back in 2011, turns “Judas” into exuberant New Orleans bounce with drumline snares, squealing sax, and a gospel choir; The Highwomen’s “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)” is inviting folk-rock that could be an early Heart treasure. The faithful covers from Years & Years, Orville Peck, and Kylie Minogue are less distinctive; most unforgivable is Ben Platt’s mawkish take of “Yoü and I,” which already has two wonderful, and very different, remixes from Mark Taylor and Metronomy.

A decade ago, Born This Way was mostly co-produced by Gaga with RedOne, DJ White Shadow, and her then-musical director Garibay. The “Banditos,” as Gaga called the crew, made the record over 18 months on her 2009-2011 tour. They worked around her erratic schedule—Gaga claimed to hardly sleep, subsisting on “music and coffee”—and set up laptops backstage and a makeshift vocal booth in her tour bus. On-the-road recording isn’t uncommon for a busy pop star—Rihanna recorded 2011’s Talk That Talk in a similar fashion—but the time crunch distills the kinetic energy of Gaga’s stadium-sized life straight into music. If it sounds like she’s singing every phrase with an exclamation point, well, it’s likely because she was due on stage in 10. There was also a practical reason for urgency: Incredibly, given the commercial success of The Fame and its sibling EP The Fame Monster, Gaga’s Monster Ball live dates had put her three million dollars in debt, and she needed the next record to get her back on the road and out of the red.

She called the album “a giant musical-opus theater piece.” It was made to be performed on a stage set up like a Transylvanian castle, and is laced with enjoyably over-the-top gothic flourishes: Gregorian chants on “Bloody Mary,” echoey organ on “Highway Unicorn.” Created in arenas, for arenas, Born This Way’s Vatican-sized ambitions imbue the album with a holistic sense of scale. With the exception of Taylor Swift’s Reputation, mainstream pop hasn’t sounded this big since. And it set a bar for promo excess in the iTunes era too, with stunts that dropped a spider-silk blanket across pop culture. Gaga arrived at the Grammys in an egg, wore prosthetic horns, and partnered with corporations like Google, Starbucks, and Zynga, the tech company whose popular FarmVille app offered in-game album previews and motorbike-riding sheep.

Gaga often sounds like she has gazed into the depths of hell and is back to tell the tale. (“I have been for three years baking cakes, and now I’m going to bake a cake that has a bitter jelly,” she said of her music’s evolution). “Government Hooker” is a sneering dance stormer that sends up powerful creeps and, with DJ White Shadow’s aircraft hangar-sized techno, takes her pointed polemic to the rave. Amid the airtight industrial pop of “Scheiße,” the best non-single of Gaga’s career, she rebukes the dumb shit that trailed her—the sexism, the transphobia—with a monster hook sung in pseudo-German and vulcanized synths that squeal like a Formula 1 starting grid. Caustic messages make Born This Way’s triumphant moments feel alluringly sweet. The fist-pumping album closer “The Edge of Glory” soars with self-belief, as Gaga’s repetitions of “I’m on the edge/The edge/The edge” build momentum like an athlete spinning the hammer throw.

She switches vocal styles like she changes satellite-dish-sized hats. On the scuzzy disco-pop “Heavy Metal Lover,” she coos coquettishly before flipping to Auto-Tuned camp. “Dirty pony, I can’t wait to hose you down,” she growls. The wonderfully blasphemous “Judas” is pop-house whiplash with the drama of Mosaic law. You can guarantee that some gay bar, somewhere in the world, is blasting it right now, with or without the video starring Norman Reedus as the sleazy daddy love interest. “Hooker prostitute wench vomits her mind,” she sings, as if catching darts in her teeth and spitting them back.

Gaga described Born This Way’s title track as a “magical message song” for the Prop 8 era, and, she wrote on Instagram recently, it was inspired by disco artist Carl Bean’s fabulous 1977 cover of the gay liberation classic “I Was Born This Way.” Of the whole record, it’s the song that has aged least well, both for its essentialist message and dated electropop. As Owen Pallett recognized in a 2014 article for Slate, its major-key composition was a departure from the “sexy, spooky” minor-key songwriting of Gaga’s biggest hits. In an aim to reach everyone, she broke from her own winning formula. In 2011, the unsubtle “Born This Way” may have been what the world needed, and it’s intensely meaningful to many queer people—including Gaga, who has the phrase tattooed on her left thigh. Still, you wish a better song had become the de facto soundtrack to LGBTQ+ rights in the Obama era. Ten years on, it’s a weak link in an album that has so much more to say about freedom and autonomy, and, elsewhere, embraces being an outsider while pausing to question the social norms that push some of us to the fringes.

These days, it’s cool for pop stars to play the bad guy or the vengeful ex. But it was less so in the early ’10s, when the charts were cluttered with party-rocking rubbish and self-affirmative dreck. It’s hard to rankle at Gaga’s version of outsider empowerment, perhaps because it’s rooted in something real. On the joyful “Bad Kids,” a song inspired by hearing fans’ stories while on the road, Gaga makes high school jibes sound like phrases you’d want to wear on a badge: a “degenerate young rebel,” a “bitch,” a “jerk,” a “brat,” “a selfish punk [who] really should be smacked.” At other times, she looks unflinchingly inwards. “Marry the Night,” a song about Gaga’s pre-fame years on the Lower East Side, puts a megaphone to a bruised mind racing with survival instinct. A cinematic video seems to reference the sexual assaults she suffered at 19, which, she said in a 2019 interview, led to hospitalization and a “psychotic break.” These details, which she didn’t share at the time of Born This Way’s initial release, cast a starker shadow on this hustler’s anthem. It was always a fantastic soundtrack for stomping down the street; it’s also a solemn vow to “marry the dark” despite the violence that can lurk in its shadows.

Born This Way’s reclaimed confidence goes down to the half-woman, half-machine composite on its cover, a mutant gynoid that screams with the fury of a saint. It’s ridiculous, ugly. People hate it. It’s also a perfectly punkish match for this scrappy colossus of an album, an apex of off-the-leash creativity and unapologetic commerce. It still makes you want to live without the Scheiße—but is just as suited for a world full of it. For an hour it makes you feel like you are made of steel.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Lady Gaga - Born This Way the Tenth Anniversary Music Album Reviews Lady Gaga - Born This Way the Tenth Anniversary Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, July 09, 2021 Rating: 5

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