It’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t actually long ago that Lady Gaga mocked the concept of hype and fame through songs such as Paparazzi. Somehow, since then, she has morphed into an over-the-top caricature of herself that embodies the very things she playfully mocked in the past.
With the release of Born This Way, Lady Gaga has traded catchy pop hooks for pretentious experimentation that, at best, has nothing to say or, at worst, says the very things that she shouldn’t be saying. The title track is an eye-rolling… er, “homage” to Madonna’s Express Yourself, only with cringe-inducing preachy lyrics that seem calculated to pander to her core audience of disenfranchised and bitterly misanthropic fans who view her as their cult mistress. Born This Way is one of the songs here that fall into the “songs that remind everybody of the 1980s and 1990s, given tinkling electronic beats as a superficial kind of gloss” category. In a way, there is a simple charm to songs like The Edge of Glory and Marry the Night, but they remind me too much of songs by Cher and other iconic ladies whose footsteps Lady Gaga pretends so hard not to emulate.
Then there are the other bunch of songs that fall into the “hot mess of electronic diarrhea”, such as Judas and Government Hooker. These songs see the over-processed metallic thin voice of our self-proclaimed icon of the new millennium babbling over tedious beats. These are the songs that Lady Gaga hope will convince me that she is, indeed, the most fabulous pop star in the universe.
The trouble here, though, is that Born This Way doesn’t have much to say other than “Lady Gaga is trying very hard, but not succeeding completely”. If this had been a less pretentious collection of songs, then it may have been worth a listen. But here, melody is sacrificed for desperate pretensions of greatness, and pretentious third-rate preachy verbosity is passed off as profound wisdom. What could have been an average and forgettable pop album ends up being unbearably insipid.