All eyes were on Lady Gaga as she gave us our first taste of her highly anticipated album Born This Way with the first single of the same name. Did she go with the more organic rock sound like that of “Speechless”? Another club banger like “Bad Romance”? Neither. She wrote an anthem urging people to celebrate who they are, regardless of their quirks and differences.
While I can certainly appreciate the message she tried to get across here, musically it just doesn’t translate all that well. “Born This Way” packs a pretty generic (but infectious) beat, which would be okay if the hook were catchy. But even the hook on this song is just kind of there to service her message, which leads to my biggest gripe about the song: the music takes a back seat to the message. And even that would be fine, if the message was told well. But let’s get something straight: for all the talent Gaga possesses, she isn’t a virtuoso when it comes to lyrics. And at times the song is cheesy.
One of the criticisms often leveled at Gaga is that her music has hollow production, but most are willing to overlook this because she knows how to write a catchy song and has an incredible voice. In other words, her personality outshines any sort of misgivings one would have about these flaws. On “Born This Way” the generic production stands out more than ever, because the songs hook and melody are just average for her. Ultimately, Gaga has entered Britney Spears-territory. Her name alone will sell this single. But as someone that was looking for a glimpse of what the new album might sound like musically, I can’t help but be a tad bit disappointed. There is nothing new about this sound. In fact, it sounds weaker than the majority of what she has done before.
This is by no means a bad song; as a pop single, it’s decent. But much of Lady Gaga’s praise and hype is that she isn’t just “another” mainstream pop star. While the themes of this song kind of play to that, (after all, how many current major pop stars would release a first album single with these kind of themes?) musically it falls into that category of just being “another” pop single. “Born This Way” should have been explosive; it should have been over the top and made people excited about where she was going to take us next.
In an interview with Vogue magazine, Lady Gaga said that she wrote this song in 10 minutes. While it’s not unheard of for Gaga to write a song in such a short amount of time, this time it seems like she got ahead of herself.