BORN THIS WAY

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:17 PM ET


Lady Gaga
Born This Way

Phew. That was close.

For a minute there, I feared we wouldn’t hear the new Lady Gaga album before the world ends on May 21. Thankfully, the rapture came early for millions of little monsters when Born This Way leaked onto the interwebs on Wednesday, six days before its official North American release on May 24.

Can it possibly live up to the massive, months-long hype? Well, it depends. If your idea of heaven is fuzzy disco thump-thump anthems sprinkled with absurd button-pushing lyrics and blatant nods to artists like Madonna, Queen, Def Leppard, Elton John and even Bruce Springsteen, the hour-long disc will be your salvation. Seeking something truly gamechanging or groundbreaking? Your prayers will go unanswered as Gaga spends most of the disc preaching to the upraised paws of her fanatical choir.

Speaking of preaching, I could blather on here about how Gaga is a triumph of marketing over music, or about how that hamfisted Photoshop nightmare of a cover actually reflects the disc’s collision of contemporary and classic, organic and electronic, unbridled audacity and clumsy obviousness, and blah blah blah. Truth is, I’m tired of writing about the phenomenon of Lady Gaga. I’d rather write about her music. So here’s a track-by-track review of Born This Way:

Marry the Night | 4:24

For Gaga, an understated opening: Just her voice and some churchy keyboard swells. Of course, it soon rachets up into an insistent club stomp that builds to a funky crescendo. Still, not bad.

Born This Way | 4:20

It’s a Madonna song. You know it. I know it. Deep down inside, she knows it. Let’s all just climb into our giant eggs and move on, shall we?

Government Hooker | 4:14

Gaga mashes sex and politics — “Put your hands on me / John F. Kennedy” — over a low-slung techno landscape that grinds like a senator on a page. Bonus points for the Ahnuld-like vocals.

Judas | 4:10

More look-at-me! provocation. But the lurching syncopation and rubbery bass synth provide a change from the relentless four-on-the-floor beat. Favourite moment: Gaga goes “Ewww!”

Americano | 4:06

The mandatory Latino cut, with strings and handclaps and flamenco strums. A little Alejandro, a little Evita, a lotta Santa Esmeralda — but really, about as exotic as diluted espresso.

Hair | 5:08

The Lady channels The Boss — complete with Clarence Clemons on sax — amid another stuttery dance-floor whomp. “I’ll die living just as free as my hair,” she proclaims. Take that, Bruce.

Scheiße | 3:45

Gaga raps in German over a faceless backdrop of wobbly electro blip- bleep. The title means ... well, let’s say crap. Read whatever you want into that, damen und herren.

Bloody Mary | 4:04

Finally, a tempo change. Over sluggish grit, plucked strings and Gregorian backups, Gaga finds enough room to croon about Mary Magdalene. One of the disc’s more interesting cuts.

Bad Kids | 3:50

It starts off promisingly — with synths spewing glam-rock power chords — before backtracking into twinkly pop. It ends up like two songs sandwiched together.

Highway Unicorn (Road to Love) | 4:15

Thankfully, it isn’t quite as ridiculous as the title — basically, it sounds like a Eurythmics number with bits of Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield. If you like that sort of thing.

Heavy Metal Lover | 4:12

No actual metal — just more fuzzy synths, another scuzzy groove and ludicrously smutty lyrics like “Dirty pony, I can’t wait to hose you down.” Is Craig Ferguson writing these songs?

Electric Chapel | 4:12

Better late than never: Metallic guitars — and even a searing solo! — help drive this chugging synth-rocker outfitted with a soulful vocal. 

It doesn’t go anywhere, but it has style.

Yoü and I | 5:07

And more guitars: Brian May co-stars on a big-budget piano-rocker produced by Mutt Lange — imagine Def Leppard covering Elton over the stomp-stomp-clap beat of We Will Rock You. Way over the top, but oddly intriguing.

The Edge of Glory | 5:21

A final synth-fuelled blast of disco-ball triumph — and another dose of Clarence Clemons’ sax. “It isn’t hell if everybody knows my name tonight,” proclaims Gaga. Mission accomplished!


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