Born This Way
Amid Lady Gaga’s rise to world domination, it’s easy to forget her debut album The Fame was actually pretty ropy, an old-fashioned pop rip-off consisting of a clutch of hit singles padded out with filler. So Born This Way offers her ladyship a chance to come up with a set of songs as striking as her image.
Unsurprisingly, considering the spectacular way she has taken to superstardom, she succeeds. Dirty synth riffs grind and pure-pop hooks soar in enjoyably garish illustration of the album’s themes of good and evil, Gaga alternately pledging her troth to Judas (“Oh baby, he’s so cruel”) and misremembering the New Testament (“Like Jesus said, I’m going to dance with my hands above my head”). “Scheiße”’s fierce beats pay tribute to Berlin techno, “You and I”’s electro-boogie channels US hair-metal, “Americano” mashes up Mexican mariachi and disco. On “Heavy Metal Lover” she sings with a slight Germanic inflection, a 21st-century Sally Bowles.
Unlike Madonna, whose influence is acknowledged and superbly shaken off on “Born This Way”, Lady Gaga combines world-conquering ambition with a magnificent sense of the absurd.