[sic] Magazine

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Heard of Lady Gaga ? She’s this loopy pop singer with weird hair and clothes, and most people either love her or hate her. Well, my personal opinion of Lady Gaga’s persona won’t come into this — it’s all about her new album, ‘Born This Way.’ Well, brace yourself: It’s a bloated mess that rambles on far too long, with too many songs, too much noise, and no unifying style.

Born This Way presents itself as a gay anthem, and it does this by thumping you over the head with obvious shout-outs like ‘Don’t be a drag/just be a queen’ and ‘No matter gay, straight or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life.’ But all Madonna comparisons aside, this song is a mess – the producers heaped so many layers of sound that it sometimes sounds like Gaga is being smothered.

Then there’s ‘Judas,’ the second single of this album. This suffers from the same choking overproduction as ‘Born This Way,’ with Gaga’s voice being smushed down under a thick fog of synthpop. Then again, she spends half the song squawking, “Juda-JUDA-AW!” like an epileptic goose, so that might be a good thing.

But what of the other songs? Well, the album actually starts quite strong with the dark, glittering ‘Marry the Night,’ and the bleakly desperate sex-with-presidents thumper ‘Government Hooker.’ But things start going off the rails with the goopy romanticism of the Spanish-flavored ‘Americano,’ the vaguely Germanic club melody ‘Scheibe,’ and the cheesy ‘Hair.’

After that, Gaga just… seems to stop trying, and lets the following songs decay into a soggy mess of mediocre club pop. Some of the songs barely have melodies (‘Black Jesus – Amen Fashion,’ ‘Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)’), and some are just so bland that it’s hard to remember them (‘The Queen’). I like ‘Electric Chapel,’ but most of these songs could have been cut without anyone noticing.

She does rouse herself enough to give distinctive sounds to the last couple songs… but they’re AWFUL sounds: ‘You And I’ sounds like a country singer wandered into a dance club and just started singing, and ‘The Edge of Glory’ is a horrendously cheesy power ballad, complete with SAXOPHONES. (Lord God no! Editor )

In a nutshell, ‘Born This Way’ is a huge bloated mess, bogged down with excess and collapsing under its own weight. It feels like Lady Gaga is trying to do EVERYTHING in this album. More sound! More musical genres! More random references to fashion, nightclubs, sex and gay people! More dance songs that nobody can remember when they’re over!

As for Gaga’s lyrics, they have some interesting elements, like the strong undercurrent of Catholic/religious symbolism and the idea that ‘bad kids’ are just fine because they were ‘born that way.’ But her writing also tends to be insanely clumsy (“You’re black, white, beige, chola descent/You’re Lebanese, you’re Orient’”, and her symbolism is so obvious that it leaves bruises between your eyes.

And her voice? It’s the strongest part of any song where she tries, but too often it falls by the wayside in this album. In some songs, it’s swamped by all those electronic layers, and in some songs she just sort of croons without putting any effort into it.

If they had trimmed off the B-sides and the extra production, ‘Born This Way’ could have been a pretty decent pop album. But instead, it feels like a collapsing monument to pop excess.