Lady Gaga Lets Me Down With Gay-Pandering Madonna Rip Off "Born This Way"

by thelostboy
February 11, 2011 6:20 AM
8 Comments
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I have to admit, the first thing I did when I got out bed this morning - with very little thought process involved - was grab my laptop and download Lady Gaga's new single, "Born This Way." I was aware of the single's impending explosion onto the pop culture landscape... And totally bought into the hype. Now, I stand disappointed and embarrassed for doing so.

It had taken me a while to warm up to Ms. Gaga. At first I really questioned her "i'm such an outcast let's all be monsters together" pandering to the margins as exploiting mainly gay fans. I didn't buy it, and I also didn't buy her extreme fashion/constant reinvention/shock tactics as anything other than a poor 2010 imitation of the late, great Madonna (my love for whom essentially died with "Hard Candy"). But then "Bad Romance" came out. For one, it was the first time I totally fucking loved a Lady Gaga song... and then there was the bizarre, beautiful and, gasp, original video that came with it. All of a sudden, after 10,000 usually treadmill or gay bar oriented listens, I was totally won over. And as this was happening, Gaga's popularity expanded to her possibly being one of the most famous and talked about pop culture figures in the western world. I found myself starting to truly believe her "little monsters" mantras and appreciate her gay rights advocacy as something potentially sincere and genuine. There was and is definitely something to be said for how far she pushed her gender-bending aesthetics and undeniable pro-gay rights stance far, far into the mainstream. There's obviously loads of better activists and musicians out there, but none of them have the access to the extreme mainstream that Gaga does, and Gaga was not holding back despite her newfound uber-fame. Maybe she really was doing it for her "little monsters," after all?

And maybe she still is. But there's no denying that "Born This Way" is not a promising suggestion of Gaga's future, musically. Sure, so what if she puts out one shitty single, right? Well, for one - it's a shitty single that was hyped as the second coming of "I Will Survive," and suggested by Gaga herself as the first track off the "greatest album of the decade." But it just sounds like mediocre disco with a mediocre modern twist, and more than anything: IT SOUNDS JUST LIKE MADONNA. I swear if I wasn't paying close attention I'd think I was listening to "Express Yourself" with a little bit of "Vogue" and "Holiday" thrown in for kicks. I had finally refrained from the monologues I'd give about how Madonna did what Lady Gaga did ten times better. Because I'd finally come to believe Lady Gaga had something truly new to offer pop culture. And for a moment there, she either did or was so good at looking like she did that I totally bought it.

Worse, though, is how desperate it sounds in the gay-pandering department. It's a gay-rights anthem to be sure, but a lazy and uninspired one. I mean, look at these fucking lyrics:

It doesn't matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up
'Cause you were Born This Way, baby

My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars

She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

"There's nothin' wrong with lovin' who you are"
She said, "'Cause he made you perfect, babe"
"So hold your head up, girl and you you'll go far,
listen to me when I say"

I'm beautiful in my way,
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

Don't hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

Ooo, there ain't no other way
Baby, I was Born This Way
Baby, I was Born This Way
Ooo, there ain't other way
Baby, I was Born-
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be!

Give yourself prudence
And love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice your truth

In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my mouth

A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M (Hey, Hey, Hey)
I love my life, I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah (Love needs faith)

I'm beautiful in my way,
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

Don't hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you're set

I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

Ooo, there ain't no other way
Baby, I was Born This Way
Baby, I was Born This Way
Ooo, there ain't other way
Baby, I was Born-
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be!

Don't be drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're lebanese, you're orient
Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby, you were Born This Way

No matter gay, straight or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born to survive
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born to be brave

I'm beautiful in my way,
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

Don't hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way

I was Born This Way, hey!
I was Born This Way, hey!
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way, hey!

I was Born This Way, hey!
I was Born This Way, hey!
I'm on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way, hey!

Gaga said she wrote the song in 10 minutes, and it shows. Not to say the message isn't fine (though her use of the word "orient" is a bit unsettling.. and all the god references just plain annoying), or that crappy lyrics aren't the framework of MANY a great pop song, but there NEEDS to be a catchiness involved. Take Pink's "Raise Your Glass," which has a similar message and similarly crappy lyrics. But it sticks in your head like no tomorrow, a destiny not likely for "Born This Way." In fact, it just seems like a footnote to a group of much better "It Gets Better" pop that took up half of iTunes charts last year - Pink's noted song, Katy (cringe) Perry's "Firework," Ke$ha's "We R What We R" or whatever its called... The whole phenomenon irritated the shit out of me from the get go (especially when the songs came with videos that had gays, obese people, handicapped people and sick people all rolled up into one outcasted ball while fireworks shot out of Katy Perry's boobs)... The message, yes, was well-intentioned. But when money-making trends in pop culture develop from tragic events, it always seems a bit questionable. And, as a good friend fleshed out in response to these ideas:

"I would say that it is indeed harmful, however, to lump all disadvantaged groups under one "you're just fine!" banner, as it codes all of these "deviations" as negative or undesirable (even while the bland text concurrently tries to reinforce the opposite). Moreover, it promotes the idea that there is a pure, untainted normalcy (Perry and her firework tittas) and disregards any sense of intersectionality. At best, it's hopefully naive - at worst, downright offensive and dated."

Overall, though, I'd say Gaga's heart is probably in the right place (much more so than Ms. Perry - the worst offender with regard to my friend's complaint)... And her work IS undeniably effective in promoting tolerance (even if it also promotes her).... it just feels safe and old and boring as a message as far as I'm concerned - especially in this song.

However, harder to negotiate is my disappointment in the simple fact that "Born This Way" sucks. You really had me going for a minute, there, Gaga... part of me actually believed this would be the second coming of "I Will Survive" or the first track off a truly classic pop album. Or at LEAST a great new song to add to my iPod gym mix. Instead, I got this:

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8 Comments

  • musiclover | September 21, 2011 12:38 PMReply

    I think this girl from the Uk called TALA is going to be the next big thing.. her lyrics are definitely better


    Check her out :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfJ47U8uPL8

  • Harry | April 9, 2011 12:13 PMReply

    Methinks you over did with the Gaga bashing. Who are you to say that Born This Way truly does suck? I happen to think it rocks, and is extremely catchy. My opinion is equal to yours. We are both right, and we are both wrong. I think the message in Born This Way is a good one, and its definitely one of the best Pop Songs of the last decade.

    I dont understand the Gaga/Madonna comparisons. They have their similarites, and they do have their differences. Gaga is much more specific when it comes to what she sings about than Madonna. Thats the difference between them IMO. Madonna is classic, but Gaga is taking what Madonna did and directly challenging it. Good on her, shes doing great!

  • Jess W. | February 18, 2011 8:06 AMReply

    I have to say, thanks for making me re-consider Pink there, pretty cute and catchy song she's got. If trite. And, in defense of Gaga (you turncoats!), that song is really good for one thing: If you set up a Pandora station with "Born this Way" as the model song, the picks are AMAZING precursors! I'm expanding my knowledge as we speak...

  • fred | February 13, 2011 12:00 AMReply

    Gaga is lazy when it comes to write lyrics.

  • Jeana | February 12, 2011 10:16 AMReply

    I have to agree with you; especially about the unoriginality of the sound. A wopping disappointment after I, too, was star-eyed by Bad Romance & her following hits. Well articulated.

  • MGL | February 12, 2011 10:04 AMReply

    I also gave in to Gaga around the time The Fame Monster dropped. A large part of my fascination came from the way she managed to grab the mainstream pop-culture moment by the balls. But the moment is a fickle, fleeting thing and pastiche wears thin so quickly. I'm not surprised to hear her stumble this soon.

  • Matt | February 12, 2011 6:00 AMReply

    I agree - and you know how much I love pop music. I forgive anyone, anything - even Katy Perry - when they comes up with a good pop tune. Poker Pace, Paparazzi and Bad Romance had great melodies. This is prime wank.

  • Anthony Nicholas | February 12, 2011 12:06 AMReply

    Yeah the song is really god awful. As far as I'm concerned Robyn is Madonna's true successor when it comes to quality pop music. Gaga just proves here that shes going to have a rocky and inconsistent career. No one at this point has matched Madonna's amazing string of singles from 1986-92.

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