After a restful night, I am fully refreshed to plunge back into the depths of Lady Gaga’s most recent auditory explosion, “Born This Way.” Read part 1 of my review here.
I was not too kind to Ms. Gaga in my last post. I explained that, despite my obvious bias against her and all she stands for, I would judge her music purely on its melodic merits. Unfortunately, these merits sucked, save for several tunes. Perhaps the second half of the album has more promise? God, let’s hope so.
Track 10: Bad Kids
This angsty anthem is one of the few songs on “Born This Way” that seems to be targeted to a little-girl demographic. The rest of the album, with its abundant unclever innuendo, is targeted toward adult gay men. “What’s the difference?” you ask. Honestly, I really don’t know anymore. But back to judging the song. This is another one of those terribly mismatched patchwork songs that seem to plague this album. The verses are moody and full of attitude. I dig them. But then we hit the chorus, and it’s like a pink pony just trampled our circuit party. I may as well be listening to Tiffany or Debbie Gibson. Still, while the verses and chorus don’t mesh, they both are catchy in their own right. This is certainly one of the better songs on the album, especially if you don’t understand English and can’t decipher these awful lyrics.
Overall Rating: 6
Track 11: Fashion of His Love
Wow! I didn’t expect this. We just fell into a wormhole that has transported us into an alternate dimension, one where Lady Gaga has assumed the role of a young Whitney Houston circa “I Want to Dance with Somebody.” In fact, the chorus of this song has a melody that somewhat resembles the aforementioned Whitney hit. With its canned drums and old-school synths, this is actually a heart-warming flashback song. Even the lyrics espouse a cute anachronistic patriarchal naivete that you’d likely never hear in another Lady Gaga tune. It’s a welcome relief from all the “independent woman” slogans she screams but fails to back up with any intelligent support.
Overall Rating: 7
Track 12: Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)
Yes, the name of this song is stupid. It conjures images of a one-horned horse carcass rotting on the side of the road. But let’s not judge a song purely by its title. Perhaps, “Highway Unicorn” has some musical value. Oh wait. No it doesn’t. Lady Gaga speaks the verses, which is a waste for someone who has an amazing voice. It’s like the world’s fastest man walking through a marathon. What’s the point? As for the chorus, it’s really just an exercise in repetition. Warning, this song may cause stigmata of the ear.
Overall Rating: 2
Track 13: Heavy Metal Lover
We start with a growing distorted bass line and a digitized Lady Gaga informing us that, yes, this is “Heavy Metal Lover.” And here we go with the God-awful lyrics. “Whiskey mouth” and “blond south?” Hey, Lady, don’t make me gag gag. Anyway, Lady Gaga puts on an extra sultry affectation for this one, purring like a cat in heat. Sure, it’s contrived, but it’s got more attitude than most this album, which is so bubbly it might just give you gas. Overall, this sounds like something I’d enjoy listening to while shopping in the GAP. It’s got the kind of sexy unobtrusiveness I desire when picking out tank tops or jorts.
Overall Rating: 7
Track 14: Electric Chapel
So the woman that sings “Judas” goes all Judas Priest on the intro of this song. We have what sounds like a shiny version of the riff from “Breaking the Law.” By the way, if you want to see a truly sinister leather-clad gay icon, check out Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, who is about as much of a heavy-metal lover as you can get. The triplet vocal scheme is toe-tapping. And I like the relaxed “do do doo.” The whole “electric chapel” thing is a little strange. I’m not quite sure what she’s trying to say. I guess it’s just more excessive sacrilege. And the guitar solo is laughable because, really, who is listening to this album for the rocking guitar solos? Still, a more listenable track than most.
Overall Rating: 7
Track 15: The Queen
With the interesting ambient sounds, this starts out like an Animal Collective tune. I wish more of Lady Gaga sported these quirky electric blips and bleeps. Oh, wait. The fun just stopped once she started singing. In a moment, all integrity has been sapped from this song. Now it sounds completely indistinguishable from a Kelly Clarkson hit. And once again Lady Gaga’s vocals are destroyed by digital tinkering, so much so that it may as well be me wailing. If I wanted to hear a robot shriek, I’d put my computer in the microwave.
Overall Rating: 2
Track 16: You and I
I should mention that the “u” in “You” has an umlaut over it, but I’m not computer savvy enough to figure out how to type that. This song is like if Queen’s “We Will Rock You” had a drunken one-night stand with any random contemporary country song. I’m assuming this is meant to be a genre-hopping chart topper for Lady Gaga. After all, the country market is incredibly lucrative (just look at the recent “American Idol” competition). Because the current state of country music is the auditory equivalent of a cow patty, I can see this song doing quite well. It’s boring, full of cliches and even has an impassioned shout out to Nebraska.
Overall Rating: 1
Track 17: The Edge of Glory
The song title alone references, in part, two gay sex terms. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just do a quick Internet search. But don’t do it at work, unless you work at a gay bar, bathhouse or political headquarters.) This is appropriate given this song sounds like every early ’00s gay club dance track. With its sense of relief and finality, I could see it played over the closing credits of such films as “Trick” or “The Broken Hearts Club.” In fact, I seem to be experiencing deja vu. I swear a newly out version of myself once danced to this song while donning short spikey hair and rainbow gel bracelets. Oh, and this sax solo by the E Street Band’s Clarence Clemons? Tragically hilarious.
Overall Rating: 5
Based on all my song ratings, the entire album averages at about a 4.5. I’d say that’s about right. “Born This Way” isn’t terrible. But there were certainly problems with its conception. Repetition, bad songwriting and over-production sink what could have been a very strong release. Instead, the resulting work is like Frankenstein’s monster, a mishmash of styles that collectively result in a lifeless, but loud, beast.