Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Albums2010 #39: Born This Way

Lady Gaga has continued to surprise me and after listening to this album, I honestly hope she never stops. Now, I'll come right out and admit it- I've been a Gaga fan for awhile. Not a huge one- not like a 'let get some weird protruding bits of me and show them off and odd angles to the world' type of a fan, but I found her music to be a breath of fresh air- initially a nice throwback to the dance-pop craze of the early 90s of my youth and she was fun, creative, bringing a touch of avant garde loopiness to the music world not seen, since, well, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground really.

She dominated the pop charts with her first two albums and then promised that this album would be utterly epic and push the envelope in entirely new ways- and having listened to it all the way through, I can honestly say that she delivers and then some.

I'll go ahead and warn the casual listener: you'll probably have to listen to this twice to really dig down into the music. It took me a couple of times to do so- but once I did, songs started popping out at me all over the place. Tracks like 'Hair' celebrate the glory and awesomeness of, well, hair. 'Americano' is a latin-infused ballad about a lesbian wedding in East LA (I don't know why this sounds awesome, but it does.) 'Scheibe' is a hardcore German infused techno track and 'Government Hooker' just sounds, well, strangely amazing- it gets into your head and doesn't really let go all that easily.

There are a few tracks that stand out from the rest: 'Bad Kids' really got to me- it seemed like a fist raising soundtrack to a revolution, almost- and after listening to it, I really felt that if Gaga would have popped ten years ago when I was in high school I could have heard this song and felt just a little bit cool and a lot better about myself. Awesome song. 'You and I' is another track that popped out at me, because with a few adjustments and if you make it a duet and throw in Keith Urban or Kenney Chesney, Gaga could top the country charts with room to spare. The lyrics, the chord structures- everything about the song could easily translate into a straight up rock n'roll power ballad or even a country jam. Amazing stuff.

Then of course, there are the single already out there. 'Born This Way' everyone should have heard by now, 'Edge of Glory' is starting to grow on me- and it's hard not to at least have some mad props for a song that includes a face melting sax solo from the E-Street Band's Clarence Clemmons. But to me, the standout of the first trio has got to be 'Judas.' Naturally, due to the relgious nature of the song, it attracted codemnation from the word go- probably from the Catholic League and their ilk, but if you examine the lyrics and more importantly, watch the video, it's actually an extremely thought provoking re-interpretation of a lot of Catholic thought.

Overall: If there were any tiny seeds of doubt that Gaga was just a passing fad, this album blows them into tiny little pieces and then stomps on them just for good measure. In a word: amazing.

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