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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Track-by-Track: Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Not much more can be said about this album, really. In the pop world, it's easily the most anticipated of the year. In fact, I can't remember an artist able to elicit such anticipation since the days of the Jacksons, Madonna, Prince, etc. That may sound like overkill, but there really hasn't been an event record like this in years. The closest thing would have been some of the releases of the late 90's, early 00's teen pop boom, but I think this is even bigger. So does the album hold up to the hype? Let's see.

1. Marry The Night - Opens with a theatrical, slow-burning vocal before blasting into an insanely unstoppable dance beat. As far as the album's concerned, it's one of the more traditional sounding tracks. It only descends into madness at the very end (which coincidentally is the best part) 10/10

2. Born This Way - The first single, which has experienced a resurgence in my eyes since it was released. The lyrics are simplistic, yet somewhat controversial because of it. This will end up as one of 2011's biggest singles and represents a shift in Gaga's music to something more universal and stadium ready. 10/10

3. Government Hooker - A departure from the first two tracks, this brittle number uses a simple casio beat as its base, upon which Gaga vamps and yells. It's rather experimental to be placed so early in the running order, but rewards with repeated listens. 10/10

4. Judas - The second single, which should have been a much bigger hit than it was. Essentially Bad Romance Pt. II, this improved the more I listened to it. Deceptively simple, yet with enough staying power to match that thunderous beat. 10/10

5. Americano - A complete shift in town, this Mexican-inspired track is probably the most theatrical on here. It's great (and slightly mental) in its own right, but I find myself skipping it in the context of the album. 8/10

6. Hair - The first of several rock/pop/dance hybrids, this is an enormous stadium belter with a similar message to the title track. As a song, it's even more successful. One of the best melodies on the album, with jackhammer production and a message that busts through the silliness of the lyrics. 10/10

7. Scheiße - One of the definite standouts, this pulsing club track segues between spoken German and English. It has one of the simplest melodies, but a wicked chorus and a general sense of craziness that pulls you back for more. 10/10

8. Bloody Mary - A demented semi-ballad with some truly unique production. This is that "avante garde" piece on the album, and comes just in time to slow things down a bit. 10/10

9. Black Jesus + Amen Fashion - The first of the deluxe version's three bonus tracks, and also my favorite. Moves between autobiographical lyrics and dance music nonsense, but benefits by fantastic, understated production and a great melody. 10/10

10. Bad Kids - Another standout. This was one of my initial favorites, and remains so. I love the use of guitar and the surging verses. Very 80's, but in the best way possible. 10/10

11. Fashion Of His Love - Even more 80's. The production's too cluttered, and this sounds far more like Madonna than the title track, but it's still pleasant filler. 8/10

12. Highway Unicorn (Road To Love) - A psychedelic, bombastic arena rocker that's more than a little silly. It's the kind of sound that I'd hoped she'd attempt, yet falls just a little short of what I think is possible. It's almost too brash and chaotic and could do with some finessing. Still, it's by no means a song to skip. 9/10

13. Heavy Metal Lover - Back to straight-up dance pop, though with a softer, more European flavor this time around. It doesn't stand out much amongst everything else on here, but it's a great track nonetheless. 9/10

14. Electric Chapel - This sounds a lot like Billy Idol's White Wedding, which is a huge complement. The synth/guitar combo is exactly the sound she's pushing throughout the album, and this is one of the best examples of that. An instant hit. 10/10

15. The Queen - The last "bonus track," and probably the weakest. I like the melody, but the lyrics are pretty weak. I'm not sure why "bitch" is censored in the bridge, as it sounds quite strange to me. The song does provide a fantastic segue into the next one, though. 8/10

16. Yoü And I - The only non-electronic track on the album, though it's given full stadium-stomper power ballad production thanks to Mutt Lange. It would be a great song no matter how it was produced, even though it feels a little out of place here. 9/10

17. The Edge Of Glory - Quite possibly Gaga's best song to date. This encompasses everything that works about this album in one track. The production is stellar, but it's the anthemic melody that really sets this apart. It's hard to imagine a better US single this year. 10/10

Album Grade: 9.5/10

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Anonymous ArkArmy said...

Great track-by-track review Nick. I personally would have given 10/10 to Americano, Highway Unicorn, Heavy Metal Lover and The Queen as well. But that's just me. ;-) Being German, I have some mixed feelings about the Scheiße song. I wish she would have actually learned two lines of German instead of making stuff up (except for the word Fräulein). I guess her announcing at the beginning of the song "I don't speak German" lets us know that. It's definitely a great dance album and I love it.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL this review is hilarious.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

What's so funny?

5:15 PM  
Blogger rcLoy said...

Your review is fuckin' ACE.

11:58 PM  

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