It’s finally out. After waiting a year and a half (though it felt much longer) for Lady Gaga’s new album, it’s released to the masses. Can you believe this is only her second full album? In that short time, Gaga’s music style has changed pretty substantially, especially for a pop artist. But does Born This Way present a step forward or backward for the newest queen of pop? The answer to that is in this “Mega Review.” First I’ll rank all seventeen songs in order from worst to greatest, giving a track-by-track review of each song, and a rating out of ten. Choosing the order to place the songs was far from easy, but no we have this shiny list! After going through each song there’ll be a more general look at the album. And when my actual physical copy of the CD comes, (damn you Super Saver Shipping!!) I’ll add a bit about the package. Enough intro chat. Let’s start the list.
17. Highway Unicorn (Road to Love) – 4/10
The list has to start somewhere, and this is the worst Born This Way track. While the title of the song sounds awesome, the actual substance is a mess. Every part of the song (verse, chorus, bridge) feels different from each other, in a bad way. The transition from parts feels jolty and totally unnatural. The beat is terrible; it sounds along the lines of a wild monkey banging on drums. Overall, the song feels very unnatural and forced. It’s trying to be too many things, pop, rock, metal, bubblegum. Sorry Gaga, but mixing them all together just makes it sound like shit. On the small bright side, the verses are half-decent.
16. Hair – 6/10
“Hair” is a true pop-trash epic. The song is terribly overlong at five plus minutes, the lyrics are immature and silly (“I want lots of friends who invite me to their parties”), and the song isn’t anything pop listeners haven’t listened to many times before. It’s not a song that I’d ever choose to listen to. And yet, if someone put it on, I’d sit through the whole thing. Silly humans, buying the same song over and over again.
15. Heavy Metal Lover – 6.5/10
“Unicorn” is the only track that I consider horrible, so even though “Heavy Metal Lover” is very low to the bottom, it doesn’t make it a terrible song. “Heavy Metal Lover” and “Highway Unicorn” have a lot of similarities; the first half of the song feels about as bad as “Highway Unicorn”, with an awkwardly high chorus and messy beat. Around the halfway point, the song pulls together and becomes much better. Still, it’s only half a good song.
14. Black Jesus † Amen Fashion -6.5/10
What a title. The song’s lyrics are all over the place; Gaga’s beginning’s, Jesus being the new black (I don’t know either), and a love for fashion are all stuffed into this song. Lucky for Gaga, pop music generally don’t need amazing lyrics. “Black Jesus” definitely has some catchy parts, but it’s no pop masterpiece.
13. Bad Kids – 7/10
Ah Little Monsters, you little bitches. In “Bad Kids”, Gaga is talking about herself and Little Monsters. The verses are entertaining and catchy, with Gaga barraging herself with insults, conveying the insecurities her fans feel. She even reveals herself to be a troll (“I don’t give a damn / I love it when you’re mad”). The chorus feels out of place and pretty boring. The beat and percussion in the song also aren’t great, and become just noise in a few places. It’s a fun track overall though.
12. Americano – 7/10
This is a really strange track. Basically, take Gaga’s talk rap, put a few lines into Google Translate for Spanish, throw in a couple catchy hooks and stuff everything Gaga wants to say about America all over it and you get “Americano”. It could have been a pop masterpiece, but the quality lyrics just aren’t here. Gaga merely mentions some topics like immigration and gay marriage instead of presenting an actual viewpoint. The verses are dry and emotionless, which feels off as well. It certainly has a lot of problems, but “Americano” also is one of the more ambitious songs on the album, so it gains points for trying something daring.
11. The Queen – 7.5/10
“The Queen” also has a lot of problems. Like many of her songs on this album, it’s too long, and the beat can get pretty terrible. Ordinary people will probably hear this and just think Gaga is being an egotistical twit calling herself “The Queen you need me to be.” And yet, “our queen” pulls through. There’s honesty about this song, and you can feel that she really does try and overcome her insecurities to keep being the idol so many people look up to. Truly great music needs real emotion, which is something Gaga has plenty of.
10. Born This Way – 8/10
The song never stood a chance. Being one of the most hyped single in the past ten years, “Born This Way” could never have lived up to the worlds expectations. The beat feels old. Many people noticed the similarities between it and “Express Yourself.” Gaga’s delivery is fairly emotionless. These are all valid criticism, but if this song was just a normal single, it would have received as a pretty good song.
9. Electric Chapel – 9/10
Up until this point Gaga’s more rock songs haven’t gone so well in my opinion. That all changes with “Electric Chapel,” which marks the beginning of the truly great Born This Way tracks on this list. Sure the lyrics are most likely the byproduct of a stoned Gaga and are pretty meaningless. They’re entertaining enough. A lot better is the sound, which has the perfect amount of background noise, unlike “Heavy Metal Lover” and “Unicorn.” The song has a slick feel to it and is catchy as hell.
8. Marry the Night – 8.5/10 (what... a higher ranked song got a lower score!? *gasp*)
|Oh Night... oh yeah, don't stop, oh Night!|
The intro to this song is easily the best part about it. Gaga’s voice is still one of the best in pop and hearing it in a stripped down setting is always a treat. The lyrics are also sweet, chronicling a night in NY for Gaga and friends. Each time I listen to it I like it more, especially the wicked catchy chorus. It's goes on a little too long, but it still is a very good song.
7. Government Hooker - 8.5/10
The first time I heard "Government Hooker", I thought it was one of the worst songs on the album. But after listening to it more, it quickly grew on me. The lyrics present an interesting view on government mistresses (surprisingly timely, eh?). This is one of the better songs lyrically on the album. The fact that the song effectively doesn't have verses made me hate it at first. Now though, it makes it addictive to listen to over and over again. And that's a sure sign of a good pop song.
6. The Edge of Glory - 9/10
Being the last song on the album, The Edge of Glory is a great end to a rather shaky effort. Alone it easily deserves the title of Gaga’s next single. The lyrics are far more relatable than most other Gaga songs. The chorus is incredibly catchy. And the bridge! A saxophone solo seems totally out of left field, but it works perfectly in the song. And when you listen to the whole song ending with this song, the song gains a slightly epic feel. You can’t help but feel content with Gaga’s work.
5. The Fashion of His Love - 9/10
Aww, this song is so cute! Finally, a normal love song from Gaga, just a totally innocent-...
And then I found out it was about Alexander McQueen a fashion designer who committed suicide last year.
Oh. That put a rather depressing twist on what appears to be a perfect bubble-gum pop song. Gaga said it was a "tribute" to his life, so I'm almost 50% sure this isn't about necrophilia. I kid!
Honestly, this is a great tribute to McQueen’s tragically short life. Listening to it, you can't help but smile at Gaga's sincerity. It’s oozing with innocence and cuteness. The chorus is pure bliss. While a 'cute' song by Gaga would've sounded absurd just a year ago, this song actually works perfectly. Also, the chorus from Gaga's demo for "Earthquake" is in here, which was an awesome surprise.
4. Judas - 9/10
You can read my full review of this song here. In the context of the full album, Judas stands almost alone in that it's pure techno-pop.
3. Schieße - 9.5/10
|Fan-Made cover by .lukeBrozic;|
God, this is such a good pop song. Some of the lyrics here are silly, but overall it presents a great theme not usually in Gaga songs: the want to live freely single. Ironically, this song is lyrically much closer to "Express Yourself" than "Born This Way" was. The lyrics are wrapped in a fast, crazy good beat the demands you move with it. The song ends before you even think of changing the track. “Schieße” is destined to rise high on Top 25 Most Played lists on iPods all over the world.
2. Bloody Mary - 9.5/10
With almost no pre-release hype, "Bloody Mary" came out of left field as one of the top songs of the album. It's daring in both its smart lyrics and strange style; no current pop song sounds quite like this. The sound is gothic and demonic with a creepy crawly feels like a funeral techno ballad (read: sounds like Adam's Family theme song). Lyrically, the song describes being both human and divine; being a human having to act a superstar. Like the great Fame Monster songs, it's also dangerously catchy.
1. Yoü and I - 10/10
|"Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no trouble, noise, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."|
“Yoü and I” is (to me) the best song on Born This Way. “Yoü and I” was the first song revealed from BTW and it's still the best there is. All the changes made from the live version to the studio were for the better. “Yoü and I” hits out all the parts of a great song perfectly. The lyrics are relatable yet still firmly Gaga’s. The production is flawless, with so many little touches that flow perfectly. There's the strong yet not overpowering beat, the hint of an acapella duet at the start of some lines, and the absolute joy that is the bridge. All this merges with Gaga's joyful and soulful delivery to make as close to a perfect song as you're likely to get. If you don't smiling listening to this song, check to make sure your soul is working correctly. Then listen to “Yoü and I” again.
Whew. Overall, Born This Way is definitely a good album. While it's not even close to being album of the decade, the majority of the songs are very listenable. A lot of songs fell victim to a sloppy beat / percussion section that made them sound chaotic and noisy, not powerful like a good beat should. There were also a fair number of songs that could definitely be shortened a bit.
On the positive side, there's a lot of variety in BTW, from metal to bubblegum pop. With 17 tracks, everyone will find a few they love. This album is a lot more ambitious than almost any other pop album. When everything comes together, Gaga creates some truly great songs. It's just a shame that it doesn't come together as much as it could've.