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opinion

Born This Way is Gaga's Magnum Opus

Bebe

I was in the mood for a little "throwback" recently and decided to go back to Born This Way and explore the era again. When looking back it really is, in my opinion, her Magnum Opus.

In the context of her career, Gaga had just lit the world on fire with The Fame/The Fame Monster and was everywhere. She was breaking records, every song was a hit, every music video or performance was an event - hell every time she walked down the street it was an event. The female pop stars before her (Like Britney Spears, PCD ect.) were sexy, flirty and yet also the girl next door when it came to their fashion. Gaga was bold, eccentric and theatrical - anything but the girl next door.

Other record labels at the time reacted to the meteoric rise of Gaga by taking her electro-pop sound, uplifting messages of inclusion and eccentric image and sanitising it. 
Trying to make it less controversial, less polarising and more palatable. I don't want it to be seen as disrespectful or shady when I compare Gaga to her contemporaries, it's not a bad thing for a commercial artist to take a popular sound/image and make it your own, I just think it's hard to really have context around how groundbreaking and different Gaga was without also discussing what the pop landscape looked like at the time. 

Kesha's Tik Tok was a Dr Luke produced attempt at another Just Dance.

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Katy Perry went from indie-rock pop to electro pop with glossy highly produced music videos.

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Nicki Minaj went from underground, hip-hop star to RedOne produced Euro-Dance beats.

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Even Beyonce went from simple and understated to embracing avant-garde looks:

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What was special about Gaga is that, although she wrote great pop hooks, she refused to sanitise her image or her music. She decided to push it further with the imagery, the lyricism and the sound without seeming to care about being too polarising and alienating a broader audience.

Born This Way was not your typical mass-market, pre-teen fodder. It was an industrial, electro-pop album taking inspiration visually, lyrically and sonically from heavy metal.

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While other pop artists released self-acceptance power anthems that seemed to apply to anyone, Gaga was direct in her lyricism at a time when Don't Ask Don't Tell was still in full effect and even Democratic politicians, like then President Obama, were afraid of supporting gay marriage:

"Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, cholo 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, transgender life
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born to survive
"

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I really can't think of another pop-singer (at the time, or now) releasing a single like Judas with that dirty electronic breakdown and lyrics that include:

"In the most Biblical sense, I am beyond repentance
Fame hooker, prostitute, wench vomits her mind
But in the cultural sense, I just speak in future tense
Judas, kiss me, if offensed, or wear ear condom next time"

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I can't think of another of Gaga's contemporaries that would have released a song, about their grandfather passing away and turned it into a 80's power anthem.

"Another shot, before we kiss the other side
Tonight, yeah, baby
Tonight, yeah, baby
I'm on the edge of something final we call life, tonight
(Alright! Alright!)
Put on your shades, 'cause I'll be dancing in the flames
Tonight, yeah, baby

Tonight, yeah, baby
It isn't hell if everybody knows my name, tonight
(Alright! Alright!)"

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That's not even mentioning the album's tracks like Bloody Mary, Americano, Heavy Metal Lover or Scheiße that simply wouldn't have have featured on albums like Teenage Dream, Pink Friday (Roman Re-Loaded), Femme Fatale, Animal or any other Electro-Pop albums that were released around the time. There was no song on the album that could have feasibly been sung by anyone else.

While many think of Born This Way as the start of her commercial decline, I think of it as what really cemented her staying power. It didn't need to have #1 hit after #1 hit, it needed to be authentic, bold, boundary pushing, political and different from anything her contemporaries were doing. Frankly it's even different to what the pop acts of today are doing. I think that's what gives it staying power.

Although Gaga writes great pop songs, they never seemed designed to reach a mass market. It seemed like Gaga wrote great songs and was just working with producers she liked and was writing about whatever she wanted to write about. No pop-star creates an album cover with her as a motorcycle with bold metallic font because they think it is super marketable, or puts horns on their face while rolling in slime for the lead singles music video.

The messages of Born This Way are still integral to her public image now. She is seen as this strong, opinionated political advocate and gay rights activist. She has the Born This Way foundation and has remained a superstar where other's haven't because she was genuinely different from the rest of the pack. I am a big fan of all Gaga's albums, I even adore Cheek to Cheek, but I really think that in the future critics and fans will look back at Born This Way and consider it her greatest work.

Edited by Bebe
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Reality

I think most people would agree.

𝒯𝒽𝑒 𝒮𝒸𝒶𝓇𝓁𝑒𝓉 𝒲𝒾𝓉𝒸𝒽 ᱬ // GOᗪ Oᖴ ᗰIᔕᑕᕼIEᖴ ४ // 𝕊𝕠𝕣𝕔𝕖𝕣𝕖𝕣 𝕊𝕦𝕡𝕣𝕖𝕞𝕖 ۞
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Anderson123

I agree. I can't believe someone like Gaga made that album at that time in her career when she was on top of the world and her team supported her vision, she's so lucky, she's the boss.

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Agunimon

I'm still shocked that this was only her third album and third year after The Fame.

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Schizophonic
9 minutes ago, Anderson123 said:

I agree. I can't believe someone like Gaga made that album at that time in her career when she was on top of the world and her team supported her vision, she's so lucky, she's the boss.

by the way, gaga’s original vision was to use one of the images covered in slime from the btw shoot as albumcover but interscope refused.

 

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kukuryku666
13 minutes ago, Schizophonic said:

by the way, gaga’s original vision was to use one of the images covered in slime from the btw shoot as albumcover but interscope refused.

 

is it really true or just a rumor?

because the artwork we got is perfect for the album
and gaga explaining it makes 100% sense
not only is it a mix of reality and fantasy but she's a vehicle for little monsters

Edited by kukuryku666
was I friendly? or was I bragging? and did I start to bore you?
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holy scheisse

Btw changed many lives too. :bradley: I remember when the song came out, I was still closeted and I HATED it. And then I started to wonder why am I hating on this self love anthem? I needed to love myself more. I'm so lucky to have had this album come out when I was coming of age :bradley:

She coulda chased chart success but she wanted to give her career meaning and depth and BTW did that, all from a place of genuineness 

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metalguru

I def agree. Marvelous album. One of my all time favorites, next to classics like Station to Station (Bowie), Hounds of Love (Kate Bush), Roxy Music, etc.

But I see that there are two big problems regarding its legacy.

1) Tracklist.

2) The cover.

The trackless is so long and out of control. 

And the cover is... just no.

I hope one day she remasters BTW and tightens it up and releases with a new cover (from the same photoshoot of course.. what a shoot it was with all the glorious photos taken, sadly the worst had been chosen as the cover). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggs

It'll be interesting to see whether or not the critical reception to the album will be reevaluated in the coming years. It was well received at the time, but with a bit of a 'it's good but...' attitude going on, and critics were resistant to acknowledge it as the landmark on popular culture I think that time has revealed the album to be.

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KEVIN STEVE

Easily one of the greatest pop albums of all time. I said it and meant it. 

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ShayCristoforo

It is, for sure.
Not many artists exceed a massively successful moment like Bad Romance, but she did that. 

Ich schleiban austa be clair
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G U C C I

At the time I liked it but didn't love it like I did the fame monster. But after ARTPOP & Joanne I went back and listened to it and honestly it is (with the exception of a couple of tracks) a masterpiece. The holy trinity of Government Hooker + Scheiße + Bloody Mary is without a doubt god tier excellence. Her lyricism and production plus visuals was perfection. 

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