“Born This Way,” Lady Gaga’s new single and the titular song of her upcoming album, is in many ways very different from her previous works. The track is the most pure pop song that she has ever released — it is an ’80s-sounding, Madonna inspired anthem.
In fact, the song has garnered much criticism for being too similar to Madonna, specifically the song “Express Yourself.” The song is certainly influenced by the former icon, but the controversy is over-hyped. “Born This Way” has similar style to “Express Yourself,” but is not a carbon copy, as some have claimed.
The anthem has an in-your-face message about loving who you are: “I’m beautiful in my way/‘cause God makes no mistakes/I’m on the right track baby/I was born this way.” One of Lady Gaga’s most outspoken and supportive fan group is the gay and lesbian community, and she has said her new single is a gift to them and to all her fans who feel like they don’t belong.
Lady Gaga pushes the boundaries of her music and genre with every album that she releases, and this single is no different. Her previous records, “The Fame Monster” and “The Fame,” featured songs that were pure rock like “Speechless,” dance hybrids like the country inspired “Teeth,” disco-pop tunes such as “Disco Heaven” and girly-pop/rock like “Summerboy.” Gaga usually shines when she stretches herself beyond straight dance music, and “Born This Way” is a perfect example of this.
On first listen, the song may be disappointing for many fans. The single is much faster than much of her previous works. The beat is also not as big as some of her previous singles, like “Bad Romanceor “Just Dance,” that were perfect for the club scene. The track places larger emphasis on Lady Gaga’s voice, however — her singing has always been strong, but in “Born This Way” her voice is the best it has ever sounded — even better than in her clean-sounding rock ballad “Speechless.”
After a few listens, the song really grows on you, for the same reason that all of Lady Gaga’s songs do. Namely, it’s catchy as hell. If you don’t want a song stuck in your head all day, definitely don’t listen to this one — it will grab a hold of your psyche and never let go.
The one flaw with the single, unfortunately, is the mixing. Throughout the song there is a noisy backbeat that clouds Gaga’s voice slightly and is simply unnecessary.
The noise really detracts from the anthem-like quality of the song — the mixing makes it feel like the producers tried to force a more electronic/dance sound into a song where it didn’t belong.
The bass is also still a little too thumpy, even though it’s already much subdued compared to regular Gaga. Despite the song’s few shortcomings, it has already become an instant Lady Gaga classic, as shown by its rapid and impressive sales.
In its first three days, “Born This Way” was downloaded over 450,000 times, the biggest debut for a woman, and the third biggest debut for any song — it was bested only by Flo Rida’s “Right Round” with 636,000 downloads and the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” with 465,000. “Born This Way” is also the 1,000th song to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Additionally, the single is only the 19th song to debut at No. 1, in Billboard’s 52-year history.
“It is a tremendous honor,” Lady Gaga told Billboard.com. “To be the 1,000th No. 1 on Billboard … I would be silly not to say this is the greatest honor of my career.”
On “Radio Songs,” Billboard’s chart for a song’s radio play count, “Born This Way” had a first-week audience of 78.5 million — the largest radio opening for a song since they started counting in early Dec. 1998.
This past weekend, Lady Gaga was also nominated for six Grammys, including Best Album of the Year for “The Fame Monster.” She lost that award to Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.”
She won three of the awards she was nominated for, however, including Best Female Pop Vocals and Best Pop Vocal Album.
Lady Gaga also performed “Born this Way” for the first time, only two days after it was released. She did so in typical Gaga fashion, namely by being wacky. She was carried into the Grammy Awards inside of a giant egg by a hoard of scantily clad minions — later on stage, she was “born” out of it and rocked the audience with her live rendition of the single.
The album “Born This Way” will be released on May 23.
Penney is a member of the class of 2012.