Take the beat from Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” speed it up, layer over some rap-y “Vogue” style lyrics and throw in the word “transgendered” a few times and you have Lady Gaga’s new single which was released (to much anticipation) this morning.
And what a reception! Lots of people in the blogosphere calling Gaga a second-rate Madonna, peeved over the blatant similarities…but I ask them this: Don’t you think Gaga KNOWS all that? Don’t you think the knowing nudge to “Express Yourself” was more of an homage to Madge than a rip-off?
I mean let’s look at this: Madonna’s “Express Yourself” is all about female empowerment and not being afraid to be yourself and demand that men respect you. Gaga’s “Born This Way” is about accepting who you are and demanding respect from, well, the world’s citizens. Gaga is not dumb. She knowingly tipped her hat to Madonna in her first single off her new album as a way of saying “we’ve been talking about respect and self-love for years (SEE MADONNA DID IT, TOO!) Why are we still jerks?”
And aside from having a message that we could all stand to learn a little something from the song also fits perfectly into this very point of Gaga’s career. She’s had two hugely successful albums and as a result, a lot of press. Except this press has been more about her look and her life than her music. This song is Gaga saying, “Let’s move on from my talon shoes and lobster hat and actually listen to the music I’m making because I was ‘born this way’ I’m experimental and artistic let’s accept it and push forward.”
And this is just another message that really resonates with Gaga’s legions of “Little Monsters” who also just want to be accepted and loved for their eccentricities.
We live in a different world than we did even as recently as 20 years ago. Gaga knows this and she’s created an anthem for this period and for the Millennial generation. Elton John called “Born This Way” the new “I Will Survive” in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“[It]… will completely get rid of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive.’ This is the new ‘I Will Survive.’ ‘That was the gay anthem. This is the new gay anthem. Actually, it’s not a gay anthem,” Elton said. “It can apply to anybody.”
It’s not often that Elton is wrong kids. He invented flashy clothes and songs with real meaning.
Yes, I will admit, on first listen I wasn’t impressed with the track. After the innovation and lyrical metaphor in “Poker Face,” “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro” I was expecting something hugely avant-garde and game changing but after letting the song roll around in my head while on repeat on my iTunes I realized that the genius of “Born This Way” is in its commercial simplicity. People will “get” this song even if they’ve never really understood the power of Gaga before. It’s not that she dumbed herself down it’s that she’s no longer just talking to her Little Monsters, she’s talking to the world.
I’ve decided that “Born This Way” gets better with the amount of times you listen to it. You start to notice the actual work that went into this song. Yes the lyrics are a little cheesy, yes the beat is very 1990s Madonna, yes the electro-rap is a little overdone–but throw them all together and you get a pretty great song.
So no, “Born This Way” isn’t Gaga trying to be Madonna and it definitely doesn’t suck. It’s Gaga’s anthem which makes it a monster of a different color from the rest of her repertoire. So while I like my Gaga “Poker Faced,” “Speechless” and “caught in a bad romance,” I stand behind “Born This Way.”
I honestly can’t wait for the album to come out because if this is the new single the rest of the record is probably going to be just as intriguing. And really, her second singles are always better than the first: “Alejandro” is a way better song than “Bad Romance” and “Love Game” was more fun than “Poker Face.”
Gaga shocked the shit out of the music world today but not in the way we expected…but that’s what Gaga does. She really was “born that way,” guys, and we wouldn’t have her any other way.