Do you remember who Lady Gaga was in 2008? She was not “Mother Monster,” she had eyebrows, her outfits were outlandish, but she could have been someone you knew. Some eccentric fashion-obsessed friend who was into performance art, someone who frequented bars, smoked cigarettes and played piano with her hands and feet. The Lady Gaga of 2011 is not someone you could know. This is a transformed person, someone who was already a vast mutation, now mutated beyond recognition in a very short period of time. Lady Gaga is incapable of true extensive human interaction. She is the most famous person in the world right now, and probably the loneliest. On the other hand, at two billion fans and counting, you can no longer be considered an “outcast” and it is insulting to suggest otherwise.
In the first three years of her career she has put all her cards on the table, all the shock value, stories of a painful childhood, drug abuse, her dropping out of NYU and most importantly, her music and clothing. There is a reason for the word “clothing” going after “music.” If only as much time was put into the recording process as her outfits and set design. Lady Gaga is a sensation, but her latest album, Born This Way, fails in comparison to her previous package, The Fame and its expansion, The Fame Monster. The problem is in the title. Lady Gaga was not famous at all when she wrote and released The Fame. It was a cute title, endearing and tongue-in-cheek. Every song on The Fame was about money, recognition and sex. The later work, The Fame Monster was an obvious foreshadowing into dangerous territory.
In 2009, The Fame Monster, an eight song follow-up that featured club hits like “Bad Romance,” “Alejandro” and “Telephone,” already provided a window into the Haus of Gaga mindset. Lady Gaga was here to make a statement, she was weird, into Hitchcock and Alexander McQueen. She loved gay men. We already knew! The fact is, The Fame Monster was an excellent CD, and everyone knew history was in the making. No one since Britney Spears had even come close to achieving the pop-culture obsession of someone like Madonna or Michael Jackson. The sheer frenzy of it drew out the excitement or in some cases, extreme frustration, in everyone. The media became consumed, the fans became crazed and everyone in the world was waiting with bated breath, anticipating her next album, which had been described as “…Too precious to talk about” by RedOne, her own producer. On the topic of Born This Way, to her fans, Lady Gaga was quoted in saying “I promise you, I’ll never let you down.”
Let me get something straight, for any doubters. I am a Lady Gaga fan, I’m just not a blind fan. She is by no means an idol of mine. I follow her, I listen to her music in my house and car. I saw her in concert last summer. I loved her first two albums, but, here it comes, Born This Way is simply half-assed. Unlike her previous ventures into fun topics and hooks that could land Captain Ahab Moby Dick, or Santiago his giant marlin, Born This Way is drab, lacks creativity and is largely religious. Well, I take it back, it isn’t actually religious at all, but biblical mentions are not few or far between, Jesus in particular. It is my strong feeling that is not wise to alienate one’s fans. Fortunately for Lady Gaga, her fans are so devoted at this point she could truly become a satanist without them blinking an eye. Obviously the Jesus references are part of her schtick, and a not-so-subtle attempt to stir up controversy, especially on the second single “Judas.” The video for “Judas” is possibly her worst yet, a metaphorical ode to a very bad man indeed.
I feel very uncomfortable at all the Jesus references, being an atheist or at least a agnostic, and I can imagine many of her more fair-weather fans might as well. Honestly I’m more uncomfortable at how ridiculous it is in general to write a song called “Government Hooker” or “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion” or even “Electric Chapel” which are all titles on her album. The absolute worst though I must say is the non-religious “Highway Unicorn (Road 2 Love)” which is not a funny joke at all if indeed it is one. Gaga explains to E! News that she is “…Obsessed with religious art” on defending “Judas,” and probably over half her album.
Here are some of the obvious preachy and over the top references to look out for, all very strong cases for contemplating Lady Gaga’s lazy songwriting abilities…
“I’m beautiful in a way and god makes no mistakes.” (“Born This Way”)
“Jesus is my virtue but Judas is the demon I cling to.” (“Judas”)
“I won’t speak your Jesus Christo.” (“Americano”)
“On the runway, work it, black Jesus.” (“Black Jesus + Amen Fashion”)
“I’ll dance, dance, dance with my hands, hands, hands above my head like Jesus said.” (“Bloody Mary”)
“Pray for your sins right under the glass disco ball.” (“Electric Chapel”)
…I suggest buying this album in its entirety on Amazon.com for 99 cents if it’s still available, because that is what it’s worth.