In the age of iTunes, I hardly ever purchase albums anymore. I think the last full albums (CDs, natch) I purchased were during the Great Glee Obsession of 2009. (No more of that, thank you very much. The “original songs” sort of make me want to hurl.) But this past Monday one of my friends sent me an email reading – and I quote: “Yes, I bought Lady Gaga’s new album. But only because Amazon has it for 99 cents!” I looked and, lo and behold, she was right. (She should have her own Daily Deals site, that one.) So I pulled out my trusty credit card and went to town.
And I’m so glad I did, because Born This Way is really good! I hereby resolve to buy more albums. I’ve missed the way that a compilation of songs hangs together to produce a true piece of art – this is definitely something that is lost in my current iTunes playlist, where Ludacris, Flock of Seagulls, Stravinsky and Ani DiFranco live together in not-so-perfect harmony.
The big criticism of Lady Gaga is always that she’s too much like Madonna. Literally, you cannot walk into a room where Lady Gaga is playing without somebody groaning, “Ugggghhhh, can we talk about how she’s just like Madonna?” (The unoriginality of this statement is somewhat ironic, actually. Next time I hear somebody say this I’m going to respond, “Can we talk about how you’re just like the last five people I’ve spoken to?”) And while Born This Way definitely contains some tracks that evoke both 80’s (“Born This Way,” “Bad Kids”) and 2000’s (“The Edge of Glory”) Madonna, there’s also tons of other influences at play here. These include, but are not limited to:
- Mid-90s Cher (“Marry The Night,” “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)”)
- German techno – or, rather, what I expect German techno probably sounds like (“Scheiße”)
- Mariachi, and a host of other Spanish-ness (“Americano” – I am a HUGE sucker for anything with Latin influence, so this is by far my favorite track)
- Classic rock. Not, mind you, that 80’s business that everybody says is classic rock – usually with the primary purpose of making me feel decrepit – but real, 70’s-era classic rock. (“Electric Chapel”)
- Broadway (“Yoü and I” – yes, with umlaut. Not fully sure why that “u” contains an umlaut. Perhaps it’s been dancing to German techno.)
- Plus, there’s a whole bunch of tracks that are essential, pure, original Lady Gaga (“Judas,” “Government Hooker,” and “Heavy Metal Lover,” among others).
Overall, it’s a really great, diverse group of songs that will keep you excellent company at the gym, in the car, or during a private late-night living-room dance party. Although it’s now skyrocketed to $6.99 on Amazon, I still recommend it highly. To give a few of these tracks a listen, check out the album here.