Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lady Gaga Born This Way 2011

Those of you who read this blog regularly (and I just know there's 4 or 5 of you) probably have a sense of my musical taste. And it had to come as a surprise (disappointment?) when I reviewed the first set from Gaga back here.

Oh well. It is my wife's fault. But as with most of her ideas, my initial trepidation was later reversed by my own enjoyment. Of half the record anyway.

This new one is OK, but not quite as interesting as the first. There's 17 songs here, so that's a lot of space to fill up with ideas, and there are clearly less than 17 ideas. So some of it is obvious filler. Also, the novelty of the "New Madonna" thing is wearing off.

The thing that hurts it the most is the writing. Almost all of the song are written by Gaga with Paul Blair and/or Fernando Garibay (way too many). Redone returns for a few, but only Hair represents the same quality he brought to the first record. There were more writers involved in the first one, so there was more variety. But there's still some good stuff here.

The highlights include the title cut, a blatant rewrite of Madonna's Express Yourself with a little Vogue in the middle eight, and Hair, a great teen girl anthem with the line "I'm as free as my hair. I am my hair" sung with the conviction only a fifteen year old girl could bring to those words. Bad Kids is another teen anthem, but it's also pretty good. Fashion Of His Love is a Big Rock Anthem done, again, a la Madonna, with different Madonna riffs borrowed throughout.

Highway Unicorn (Road To Love) is a mix of Gaga, Bon Jovi and Madonna all wrapped up in another Big Song. You And I changes things up from the rock anthems to a big country ballad. It sounds like one of those barely country things Keith Urban or Shania Twain does. The Edge Of Glory returns to arena rock, with a giant chorus that sounds like a Journey song (with a sax solo by Clarence Clemons!).

So there's seven that I like. Not a great return on your investment, really. There's at least five more that are interesting (Marry The Night- standard disco, but good, the quasi-Latin Americano, Scheibe, a darn good faux-Kraut-rock disco tune, Bloody Mary-nicely developed melody, but sounds plastic, and Queen, a pretty good pop tune). Five others could have been left off the record.

If there's four or five from the first album that I'll like hearing five years from now, there's probably only a couple on this one that are that good. I should also mention the sound. It's overcompressed. Not as bad as a few I've heard, but bad enough. And there are no sounds on this record that could ever be called organic. This is polished product, not made for anything except dancing. But you can enjoy it that way.

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