Listeners on Chicago’s B96 can hear tracks from Lady Gaga’s new album Born This Way all weekend. However, based on an early listen to the album, they may want to skip out. Born This Way is the worst album by a major superstar since Madonna unleashed American Life almost a decade ago. At least Madonna didn’t describe her album as the album of the decade.
The main problem with Born This Way is that Lady Gaga tries too hard to emulate Madonna, but it comes across more desperate than as a tribute. The title single is the poor man’s version of “Express Yourself,” but without the soulful vocals and the irony. Lady Gaga tries to make herself the queen of gay rights, but comes across as someone who is exploiting gays rather than helping them. It doesn’t help that she is using racist terminology by referring to Hispanics as “Cholas” and Asians as “Orients.”
“Judas” will remind some people of “Like a Prayer.” The music isn’t the same, but the concept of comparing a lover to a “higher power” is still there. However, “Like a Prayer” is a classic, while “Judas” sounds like a bad parody of Lady Gaga’s much better songs.
“You and I” recalls Madonna’s 1992 ballad “In this Life,” which was about friends lost to AIDS. A song like this was groundbreaking and risky in 1992, but not so much in 2011. Even worse, the song sounds contrived and insincere, as if Gaga’s marketing team is holding a gun to her head and forcing her to sing the song. It’s all about the “gay “dollars and sadly, some are falling for it.
When Lady Gaga isn’t ripping off Madonna, she is trying to recycle other artists’ work. “Edge of Glory,” with lyrics that sound like they were written by a loser of a 1st grade poetry contest, sounds strangely similar to Cher’s “Song for the Lonely” and Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You.” The song might have worked as a Cher parody, but Lady Gaga lacks the vocal power to pull it off.
In “Hair,” Lady Gaga tries to be groundbreaking and thought provoking by declaring “I am my hair.” It sounds like a throwaway track from Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love days mixed with a generic 80s dance beat. It is one of the worse tracks from an album that is already bad enough.
There are some standout songs here. “Government Hooker” recalls New Order’s “True Faith,” but not in a bad way. “Marry The Night” is enjoyable, even though it is a little self-absorbed. “Americano” may have cliché lyrics, but the Lou Bega type beat makes you forget about the lyrics.
Lady Gaga can wear meat dresses, Madonna outfits, lobster hats, and penis shoes all she likes. However, it won’t cover up for the fact that Born This Way is dead on arrival.