We live in an age where the release of a high-profile album is almost always preceded by some form of internet leak; and illegal copies of Lady Gaga‘s ‘Born This Way’ were popping up on various outlets even before a pre-release stream on the Metro website today. Still, what else would you expect when it comes to an artist whose début single alone sold 7.7 million copies worldwide, and whose world tour netted £139 million to rank as the 14th highest-grossing jaunt of all time?
The hype around a Lady Gaga release is undeniably insane, but lest we forget that some critics have already suggested she’s hit her peak and is on the downward spiral. Is it really that silly to over-analyse the fact that a Glee episode based on her music was the series’ lowest-rated episode to date? Or that neither ‘Born This Way’ nor ‘Judas’ could top the UK Singles Chart? Is the Gaga phenomenon beginning its slow decline mere months after it hit its peak?
Well, if we’re going by the quality of the music itself, no. ‘Born This Way’ is a massive album; a pop force to be reckoned with and one that makes recent efforts from Nicole and J-Lo look like nothing more than the warm-up. Whereas ‘The Fame’ gave us the impression of a girl nowhere near as revolutionary as she thought she was, we can’t argue that ‘BTW’ puts her firmly at the forefront of the current pop scene. Of course, just calling a song something as whacky as ‘Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)’ isn’t enough in itself to class someone “boundary-pushing”, but it’s all backed up by the tunes. The two singles are both outshone by tracks elsewhere on the set, particularly the subtly amazing ‘Heavy Metal Love’, the piano-led rocky effort ‘You and I’, and the hands-in-the-air finale ‘The Edge of Glory’, which is simply one of the best tracks she’s ever released (AND IT’S GOT A BLOODY SAXOPHONE IN IT).
Does anything match ‘Bad Romance’? Not quite, but then A) that’d be a pretty tough target to hit, and B) this collection doesn’t really demand that kind of song. Perhaps that’s why the odd been-there-done-that tracks like ‘Judas’ don’t quite make it as the modern classics they strive to be whereas euphoric anthems like ‘Marry The Night’ are almighty triumphs. But in any case, ‘Born This Way’ doesn’t disappoint. The production compensates when the lyrics get too bizarre to be taken seriously, and there’s enough variety in the standard edition’s 14 tracks to keep things fresh and exciting throughout. She might be an oddball, but she sure knows her way around a fucking good pop song.