If I Said I Like Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," Would You Hold It Against Me?
This, folks, is the point where we're all supposed to provide Lady Gaga with the inevitable backlash. She's simply become far too big, far too over-hyped, far too fast. And, besides, isn't this Britney's year?
But first off, I'm not going to play the Gaga Vs. Britney game. It's pointless, cheap and it's the lazy way out. Yeah, both broads put lead singles from their upcoming albums out within a month of each other. And, yes, this will be the first Britney album to arrive in the Age Of Gaga. So?
To really comment on "Born This Way," we have to look back to the very inception of the mountain of hype touting the song, when The Lady appeared on CNN's Larry King Live last June, jibber-jabbering about how her third album was already in the can. She took the opportunity to tell her Little Monsters that the set of jams would not, however, be released until the new year.
And then there was the MTV VMAs, where Gaga continued to fire up her followers when she revealed the title of her forthcoming album by singing a few lines from "Born This Way." Other hype tactics were employed: release dates for the single and album tweeted on New Year's Eve, lyrics posted across various websites in January, news that the single would be bumped up two days.
And that, Lady lovers (and haters), brings us to now. "Born This Way," the single, is here, and it was #1 across the digital retailer board within hours of release. Alright, already—so what the hell does it sound like?
Well, as I briefly noted yesterday, my first impression was that it sounds like old-school Madonna mixed with '90s-era Erasure. I've not had much access to the Internet over the past 24 hours, but I've seen here and there that some folks are comparing "Born This Way" to Ye Olde Vampyre's "Express Yourself."
I can kind of hear that. The way Gaga talks in the beginning can maybe come across as similar to Madge's "Come on, girls!" rally cry. And the vocal melody is sort of like that in "Express Yourself." But let's get real about something—it's not like Madonna herself wasn't the artful queen of ripping off other musicians.
Personally, "Born This Way" did nothing for me the first time I played it. I wasn't overly disappointed, but I wasn't blown away, either. In fact, I couldn't help thinking that there might have been more of a "wow" factor if so much g.d. hype hadn't been shoveled to the masses in the lead-up.
But later in the day, I sat down and played it a few more times. And suddenly, those lyrics—which I found to be highly cringe-worthy and, frankly, quite a turn-off when they were revealed—seemed to work. And I began to think, so what if "Born This Way" sounds like Erasure or old Madonna? At least someone in mainstream pop is using those influences! It beats having to hear, say, Rihanna channeling vintage Iron Maiden.
Likewise, why shouldn't Lady Gaga be able to sing about drag queens and transgendered folks? Would it be better if she used homophobic lyrics?
The more I listened, the less I heard Madge. And what became apparent was that this is the first truly "happy" Lady Gaga single. There's no desperate stalking, one-night stands or tortured love that plays out in the lyrics. Sure, subtlety appears to have flown out the window. But "Born This Way" is just a fun pop song with a positive message. And in that respect, the 24-year-old songstress has shown that she is truly evolving as an artist.
I will mention Britney one more time, though, and just say that, like "Born This Way," "Hold It Against Me" took a few listens to truly click. But I'm glad I gave both songs the chance.
As we navigate this rapid-paced world where absolutely nothing in entertainment really seems new anymore, let's not get so jaded that we forget that there's room enough on Planet Pop for both Lady Gaga and Britney Spears—and it would be a much drearier world without them.
Labels: Lady GaGa