Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gaga's Born This Way. My 2c.

Simultaneously hectoring and pandering, lyrically inept, poorly performed (since Gaga's lyrics on this one are supposed to be very important to her, it's staggering that her diction here is easily her worst, i.e., of all her singles - compare Gaga with, say, Loretta Lynn when she's got something to say about 'god making no mistakes'),[1] musically pedestrian (at best), busy but hookless with cluttered/muddled/airless production.[2] In sum, this is a genuinely bad, reputation-deflating record a la, say, Michael Jackson's Bad single or Oasis's D'you know what I mean? I imagine that the BTW album will be more the sort of tepid-by-comparison-with-previous-triumphs disappointment that MJ's Bad album was than a laughable fiasco like Oasis's Be Here Now, but who knows?

Avoid in favor of contemporary wonderfulness such as:


Update March 1, 2011: Born This Way's vid. has dropped. It uses about two minutes of Herrmann's Vertigo score for an intro.. I can't decide whether I'm angry about that or not! At any rate, it's a complete mismatch with the (somewhat grotesque) images, which are heavily indebted to Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle. Moreover neither the Herrmann nor the Cremaster-meets-Transformers -meets-The Jackson's Can You Feel It images seem to have anything much to do with Gaga's own musical contribution. It's all a little bewildering. Realistically, too, Gaga's song just drowns in this mass of allusion and overdone ornamentation: you'd need to have written something as assured as Life on Mars or Station to Station or Somebody to Love or Cloudbusting or Paranoid Android to survive it, and BTW isn't close to that level. I do suppose that we have to give Gaga credit for her obsessions: she referred to Vertigo and other Hitchcock films in the lyrics to Bad Romance, and here we go again.

Update April 16, 2011: Gaga's next single, Judas has dropped. Bloody hell, what a horrible mess - Bad Romance sped up minus the hooks. Gaga appears to have completely lost her way both musically and lyrically - she needs to take a break from the music business to recharge, find herself is my guess. Judas also features the same cluttered/muddled/airless production as BTW. Awful. Can't wait for the inevitable, overbearing video. :(

Update May 5, 2011: Judas's vid. has dropped, and while it's an overblown/incoherent mess, it at least gets through its business without too much faffing around. To me at least it feels like a net positive for the song. It's being reported that the vid. cost $10 Million = Gaga does her bit to keep the economy moving perhaps! Can't see her accountants being amused.

[1] Note that Lynn's use of 'God makes no mistakes' is relatively coherent: it's part of a broad embrace of the (admittedly unsatisfying) Book of Job defense against the so-called 'argt from evil' (to the conclusion that the God of monotheist tradition does not exist). Gaga's use, by way of contrast, is completely incoherent: she doesn't want to get God off the hook for 'evil', as it were, rather she wants to encourage a specific attitude of acceptance/tolerance/don't try to overcome/cure anything by humans. But that's a stupid non sequitur: someone can think that all manner of hardships are God's deliberate testing of us and still think that overcoming/curing/struggling against/preventing future instances of that hardship is an appropriate response (i.e., what constitutes passing the test), and that passively accepting that that's just the way things are and ever will be is inappropriate (i.e., constitutes failing the test). More generally, Gaga's insinuation is an instance of the naturalistic fallacy-mongering that's one of the banes of much modern gay-rights activism (cf., 'born this way', 'we're here, we're...', 'love doesn't discrim., neither should the law', and so on). Insofar as this fallacy-mongering is strategic, it's contemptible, and insofar as it's sincere, it's idiotic.

[2] How compressed and loud is BTW? I'm no audio-maven but the whole thing sounds like 'bricked' static to me. I therefore expect that a formal frequency analysis will be very telling in this case.

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