A Gaggle of Gaga


While we’re on the topic. A critical roundup, of sorts.

Alfred Soto: “With Born This Way, Gaga aspires to become an all-purpose avatar for misfits and losers. Laughing at her for selecting the godawfulest album cover ever printed is part of the point. She accepts our derision; she invites it. That she succeeds three quarters of the time is testament to her development as a songwriter. Where she once struggled to write decent choruses for solid bridges or vice versa, every song on BTW boasts the surefire get-outta-my-dreams-into-my-car stomp of a Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange composition (when Lange himself co-produces a song I barely noticed).”

Kitty Empire: “The spaceship thing, especially, is misleading. Gaga may have given birth to an alien race in the eye-catching video for ‘Born This Way,’ but its parent album is recognisably terrestrial, dividing its affections between two landmasses — the Americas and Europe. Born This Way runs big, timeless American themes — freedom, self-actualisation, the romance of the road, the Boss, even Neil Young — through the pointy prism of decadent European dance music. It effects Cher’s transition from AOR diva to dance queen in reverse.”

Nitsuh Abebe: “Gaga has quickly reached that brief apex of stardom where anything an artist does is compelling simply because she’s made the decision to do it. To make this record successful, all she needed to do was produce something — almost anything — bold enough for people to react to. And Born This Way is, from the cover on in, a fire hose of such things. On one single, Gaga says she ‘vomits her mind,’ a metaphor that’s hard to improve upon.”

Michaelangelo Matos: “Gaga is also big on that other ’80s child here: self-help. ‘Born This Way’ admonishes, ‘Don’t hide yourself in regret/ Just love yourself and you’re set.’ That palpable urgency to simultaneously accept everything and push it out at the edges gives those platitudes more charge than usual. They could come from anywhere, but only one person would put them together like this. Finally, an album to match all those photos.”

Ann Powers discusses the secret connection(s) between Gaga and Dylan at Soundcheck (a podcast).

Rob Sheffield: “It’s one thing to sing about a motorcycle, and it’s another to sing about a unicorn. But when you put your motorcycle song and your unicorn song in the same song? And call it ‘Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)’? Now that’s a pop visionary.”

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