Lady Gaga is without a doubt the single most talked about female pop artist these days. I won’t lie, the girl knows how to stand out from a crowd whether it’s because of her controversial performances or her downright ‘wtf was she thinking’ outfits. It’s been about a year since Lady Gaga first told us that she would be releasing her third studio album, Born This Way and so thus was born, ahem, one of the most anticipated albums of the year. All records receive their fair share of press and BTW was no different. From negative responses to the album’s cover, claims that the video for Judas, which was yet to be released at the time, was slammed by the Catholic Church and Gaga’s statements that her new facial horns were real and now was the right time to show them off to the world… It almost makes you forget that there’s an actual record behind all the talk. So here we are with the question on most people’s minds, is BTW a step-up from it’s predecessors? Well…
When asked, Gaga described this record as a marriage of electronic music with major, epic, metal or rock’n’roll, pop, anthemic style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats. So without any help from the media, well at first, she had already placed BTW up on an extremely high pedestal for herself. Luckily for her, Gaga doesn’t just talk the talk. She’s perfected the walk too.
She proves that she’s still got it in her to pen some seriously catchy tracks that’ll have you craving a stint on the dance floor and yet, at the same time, actually stand out as very strong material in their own right. The albums finest moments are Marry the Night, the religious themed love song Judas, the identity crooners Born This Way and Hair, the ‘it’s fun to be bad’ track Scheiße, the Queenish power ballad Yoü and I, and the 80’s inspired The Edge of Glory. If you have the special edition, I’d throw in Fashion Of His Love which is purportedly penned after the late Alexander McQueen who, if you remember, Gaga stated was her puppeteer from heaven. Either way, the song is so very Whitney circa I Wanna Dance With Somebody. The best way to describe BTW is that it’s like fashion. Gaga reuses a lot of musical ideas from the likes of Madonna and Whitney to Queen and The Boss himself and then adds her own personal twist.
It’s easy to forget why Gaga actually stands out from her contemporaries without referring to the outrageous outfits and stage antics. It’s actually because she knows how to sing a song they way it’s meant to be sung. She’s one of the few who can not only hit a note on a record but live too, low and behold! Of course, I know I shouldn’t really be praising her for what a singer is actually meant to do but it’s hard not to these days with all the lip-syncers or those you really wish would mime just so you wouldn’t have to here them live. It’s like finding a rare gem! Her vocals are spot on throughout the entire record – enough so to maybe raise some goosebumps – so when she covers them up with techno beats and then there are her past uses of autotune (shudders) it makes you really wonder why she bothers.
Sure there are a couple of issues with the record, as if any record truly goes unscathed. None of which are how good or bad the album actually is – not one song grazes the bad category. Even if most of the songs come off a bit choppy on the first few listens which is more than likely due to the amount of genres Gaga has decided to clump together – not all of which blend with ease. The issue that’ll be like the thorne in the paw of some is simply the emphasis on how amazingly innovative and all important BTW was going to be by none other than Gaga herself. Now I’ve no trouble with an artist talking up their record cause hey, isn’t that part of their job? But I think it’s premature to put it up on some never before seen or touched pedestal like she’s done. It’s also a little self-important. If this record was to be the one to define Gaga as a force to be reckoned with (and there was me thinking that this was a no-brainer!) then it falls short but only slightly.
Even if BTW isn’t as ground-breaking as Gaga made it out to be or as we, as the listeners, expected, it’s still a great record and there’s an explanation for this. She tested herself. She could’ve made another record like The Fame Monster. She didn’t. She could’ve gotten lazy but Gaga’s always tried to be different and there’s a real sense of trying even harder with BTW. Although I’m not convinced that she manages to accomplish making an album that’d blast everyone’s expectations to smithereens, it doesn’t make what she does accomplish any less great. If you’re a self-confessed little monster there is little worry that you’ll be disappointed. If you’re like the rest of us then I can guarantee you this, BTW hasn’t a single dull moment. Seems Gaga’s hit the right note yet again.