"Christmas Tree" may be a festive guilty pleasure that every one of us has secretly bopped to at least once, but being catchy can only take an otherwise insubstantial song so far. Ho ho ho, under the mistletoe, yes everybody knows this 2008 single is Gaga's worst.
While DJ White Shadow produced a fantastic beat, most fans weren't totally enthused about what is a rap song with Gaga as the hook girl. However, a valiant effort at trying something new... and it gave us the iconic "From across the pond… T.I.! They wouldn't let him into the country, poor thing."
Initially released as a bonus track in Brazil and Japan, and then later onto the deluxe pressings of The Fame Monster, the funk-influenced, minimally-electronic, "Retro Dance Freak" harks back to the early stylings of Gaga's music.
When the album artwork for Born This Way was revealed, Gaga tweeted: "Get your hot rods ready to rumble, 'cause we're gonna fall in love tonight," not only revealing the lyrics to this song but also explaining the reason the album cover pictured her as half-woman, half-motorcycle. Gaga presents herself as a vehicle for change, riding down the "road to love" to preach love and fight for justice. On this journey, she invites all her fans to join, after all, "she's just an American riding a dream."
"Again Again" was a bonus track on the Canadian edition of The Fame, later included on the deluxe edition of The Fame Monster. While not an inherently bad track, the song isn't really necessary or important in Gaga's discography. Why couldn't we have f-f-f-featured "Future Love" on the album instead?
"Donatella" greets listeners by the fluid-gush and splash of bedazzle-laced fashion into a diamond-studded challase. The beat drops and immediately struts down a glass runway, and it pops its hips, extending its claws.
"Brown Eyes" is the only ballad on the international edition of The Fame. It's a sad song about a break up and what could have been that reflects the mindset of a young woman and demonstrates her growth as both a person and an artist.
"Black Jesus † Amen Fashion" is Gaga's autobiographical homage to New York City, fashion, culture, and her love for the lower east side underground pop scene. In her pursuit of stardom, Gaga "moved downtown when [she] was just 19" and was given one year by her father to secure a record deal. She used the money which was initially meant for her placement at NYU Tisch School of the Arts (where she left the program) as a starting point for her career. There, Lady Gaga met Lady Starlight and was exposed to new art, symbolism, and a different way of life. "Black Jesus" is Gaga's recognition of this change in her perspective in art and her subversion of the norm. By claiming that "Jesus is the new black" she creates new meaning and new ways to see things through art, fashion, and music.
An eternal summer banger, "Summerboy" forgets all the worries of relationships and focuses on the light-heartedness of summer flings. The throwaway lyric, "Let's get lost who can take me home, somewhere nice we can be alone" sums up Gaga's quest for a carefree, non-committal fling where the passionate heart is encouraged to take over the rational mind. However, there is a hint of sadness in her voice, as she admits that this is what every girl wishes could happen, but never does. "Summerboy" is one of Gaga's more relaxed songs, dipping a toe into flirtatious fancies and not taking life too seriously, since "we'll still have the summer, after all."
Serving the full, raw flavor of the nonchalant New York scene, "Vanity" boasts all that's fabulous and bitchy about Lower East Side glamour. The tickling lyrics, "touch me baby, but don't mess up my hair," "love me baby, but don't get too attached," and "look at me, whatchu' lookin' at" all emphasize Gaga's thirst for and rejection of attention. The moment her thirst is quenched it is immediately rejected, exposing the fickleness of fame, yet she is in love with vanity. At the same time mocking and owning this attention-seeking attitude, "Vanity" glamorizes the fame that comes from within us. Capturing the essence of The Fame, "Vanity" preaches the feeling of being famous even if no one knows who you are. Although "Vanity" embraces and promotes the glamorous side of self-inflicted fame, this fantasy bubble is popped as Gaga sassily reminds us that "everybody's gotta work tomorrow at 9."
One of the three bonus tracks off of Born This Way, "The Queen" is Gaga's only song to feature a major sonic change part way through. The first half of the song is a fairly upbeat pop song about feminism and feeling like, well, a queen, but the second half transitions into a guitar-heavy Americana outro that sounds like what driving into the sunset would be like. She's the queen of mid-song transitions, she's the queen of selling a million albums in one week, she's the queen of releasing the album of the decade.
Standing alone, "Dope" hurts more than it helps, but in harmony with ARTPOP as a whole it gives the listener a break from the album's utter elation and helps recenter before the big, two-part finale.
One of the few Martin Kierszenbaum-produced tracks, "I Like It Rough" was initially released as a bonus track for the Canadian and Australian editions of The Fame, and later included on the deluxe version of The Fame Monster.
A single in Australia, New Zealand, and a few other European countries, "Eh Eh" is definitely a different style of song in Gaga's discography. It's overly upbeat, bubblegum pop stylings are quite unlike anything else on its parent album or really anything else in her catalogue.
Written by Gaga and RedOne, later pitched to Heidi Montag, and then in 2008 officially released by Gaga on the Confessions of a Shopaholic soundtrack, Fashion is about, well, fashion. It's a fun song, and features the typical stylings of a RedOne production, but the fact that Heidi Montag could pass it off as her own goes to show that it's not really a strong indicator of Gaga's identity as a musician and makes it understandable why she never stuck it on The Fame.
Pros: 1. One of Gaga's career-best verses. 2. Badass Michael Jackson-inspired intro. Cons: 1. One of her career-worst choruses. 2. Can't unhear "You're still good to me if you're a f****t baby."
Killing off her former self in maniacal laughter, Gaga asks the world whether they "want to see the girl who lives behind the aura," the girl underneath the outfits, the makeup, and the wigs. What she reveals is her power as a ‘woman of choice', denying the perceptions of her being a ‘wandering slave'. Gaga reclaims her creative freedom from the media's portrayal of her hiding behind her looks, addressing the fact that the girl presented to the world and the girl "behind the burqa" is indeed one and the same. Her tantalizing spoken verses challenge perceptions of her taking political stances in her fashion and artistic choices. Gaga hits back in the song by saying that "it's not a statement as much as just a move of passion."
A tribute to the late fashion designer, Alexander McQueen, "Fashion of His Love" is definitely one of Gaga's most 80s-influenced songs—you can pretty much hear Whitney Houston belting this in 1986.
The titular track from its parent album, "The Fame" is a song solely about the desire to be famous. The inclusion of the sounds of falling coins is a nice production flourish, and the Bowie-style funk guitars give a pretty overt nod to one of Gaga's biggest idols, and one of his most iconic songs which essentially shares the same name.
Is "Starstruck" generic? Yes. Absolutely inessential to Lady Gaga's discography? Sure. Could've been sung by literally anyone? Certainly. Does any of that make it any less of a colossal bop? Cherry Cherry Hell No!