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Born This Way (Music CD), by Lady GaGa

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): GaGa, Lady (2011). Born This Way. [Music CD]. USA: Streamline, Interscope, & Kon Live

Category: Music Album (Audio Recordings)

Descriptive Summary: Lady GaGa is an experimental post-modern electronic pop artist and this artistically ambitious album is definitely a product of that agenda and creative expression. Born This Way lives up to the hype and the phenomenon that is the persona of Lady GaGa in the media. It is controversial, fun, and highly creative; all of these elements are a reflection of the artist herself in many ways. Born This Way almost seems to be an effort to push societal boundaries to its limit, which is something that a lot of teens can personally identify with.

Born This Way is music that is not just open to interpretation, but actually needs it in order to have context for every listener; no two people are going to derive the same meaning from it, which may be one of the reasons Lady GaGa remains such a sensational and fascinating phenomenon for many fans. The variety of music topics and the breadth of ‘artistic license’ in Born This Way is certainly what makes this project so artistically ambitious. There are elements of 80s music, disco, heavy metal, and acoustics. There is probably at least one theme in the music that will appeal to different teens that have more eclectic tastes in music.

Book Talking Hooks: Lady Gaga won a Grammy Award in 2009 for her single Just Dance and it became a best seller worldwide. Poker Face was another single that followed and went to the Number One Bestseller spot, selling over nine million singles worldwide in 2009. Collectively, Just Dance, Poker Face, and Bad Romance sold 15 million singles worldwide and Lady Gaga is the only artist to have four different singles claim number one hits from debut albums. At the 2010 MTV Music Awards, Lady Gaga also won eight of her thirteen award nominations among many other awards, nominations, and best seller lists places.

Given Lady Gaga’s unbelievable success worldwide, it is not surprising that she is hugely popular with young adults and pop culture. Also, not surprisingly, Born This Way has also been very popular. The single, Born This Way (the second song in the album) is the fastest selling single on record, selling one million copies five days after its release in February 2011. Born This Way is also only one of 19 albums to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 Countdown List. Other singles on the album, Judas and The Edge of Glory (items number four, and 14 on the album respectively), were number one bestsellers on iTunes.

Songs like Judas, have generated considerable controversy in the media, particularly from religious communities. The song Judas, for example, sparked a great deal of controversy for the Christian religion, especially for Catholics who reacted very strongly. Teens that have a somewhat rebellious streak may be attracted to this aspect of the album, thus increasing it’s popularity.

There are also certain other songs that teens could relate to. The song, Hair (item number six in the album) is something that tees might identify with since it is about someone trying to express their individuality through how they dress and their parents don’t like it. This is a common struggle for many young adults trying to be different, or just simply to be rebellious. Bad Kids (song number nine) is also a similarly themed song about feeling like every bad thing that happens is a teen’s fault and that that teen is not really a bad kid after all. This is another message or theme that many teens would identify with.

Overall, Born This Way has many songs with different paces, tones, varying content. For example, Marry The Night (song number one in the album) is strongly reminiscent of the 80s music style. Schiebe (item number seven) is partially in German and will appeal to teens of a multicultural background. Most of it is quick and catchy; these songs would be fun to dance to. Highway Unicorn (song number eight), has strong elements of repetitive techno, which is also really popular with young adults. You and I is an example of a song with slower beat. With this sort of variety, the chances are not bad that a teen already into pop music will find a number on this album that they like.

Evaluative Comments: 3/5. Born This Way is certainly creative and the variety of beats and tempo make it entertaining to listen to, if that is the style of music of person is into. This album clearly involves multiple sources of inspiration and musical equipment.

Some of the song numbers will have some appeal to teens that feel alienated or different through songs like Bad Kids, or Born This Way. Both of those songs do have positive or good messages for teens. For example, the single Born This Way is just about celebrating who and what you are; we could all do with a little more of that in our lives!

However, this album may be a bit of a dubious choice for the Young Adult section in a library collection, given the controversy it has generated and some people possibly viewing some of the song’s messages as unwholesome for children and teens. Songs like Marry the Night can be seen by some to encourage somewhat less than wholesome behavior in terms of sexual promiscuity, as does Government Hooker and Heavy Metal Lover (song numbers three, and 11 respectively). Keeping an album like this in the YA Section could generate further controversy.

Readers’ Advisory Notes: Born This Way is certainly issue-oriented but perhaps also reflective (primarily due to the controversy surrounding the album’s candid content). This kind of music would generate conversation, dialogue and debate. It is also highly creative with a wide variety of different moods. Angst-filled, emotionally intense, occasionally disturbing (for some teens), but also a bit funny and feel-good at times. Truly a range of emotions!

Reason for Inclusion: As noted above, Lady GaGa in general is hugely popular in pop cultures, music, fashion, and social media in general (she is the most followed celebrity on Twitter, for example, with over nine million followers and over thirty million ‘likes’ on Facebook to date). She is an award-winning artist for many of her works, and Born This Way is one of the most popular albums of all time (as noted above in Book Talking Hooks).

I also picked Born This Way because of the controversy it generated upon its release in 2011. Teens are interested in the controversial or the challenged which, I think, is a large part of the album’s success. The messages in songs like Judas, and Bloody Mary are not especially violent but they are viewed as blasphemous and disrespectful of religion, which is a hot topic in the media. I did not find these songs to be especially anti-religious so much as a self-expression of one’s perception of religion. This is something that I can see appealing to teens a lot as they try to voice their own opinions and I understand the appeal of this album because of that.

Suggested Audience: Born This Way is classified as dance-pop. Therefore, I would recommend it to teens that find that style of music appealing. Given the highly creative elements of artistic license and interpretive qualities this album involves, I would also recommend this to slightly older teens that might be interested in making a project out of music and/or art analysis or an examination of pop culture. Furthermore, given the slightly questionable message in some of the songs concerning moral behaviour, this may also be another reason to regard it as entertainment for a more mature teen. I would recommend the album Born This Way to teens aged 15 and up.

References

The Hollywood Reporter (2011). “Lady GaGa’s ‘Judas,’ Upsets Religious Groups. Retrieved from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lady-gagas-judas-upsets-religious-179188

Lady GaGa (2013). “BIO.” Retrieved from http://www.ladygaga.com/bio/default.aspx

The Metro (2011). “From Lady GaGa to Rihanna: Top 5 Controversial Music Videos of 2011.” Retrieved from http://metro.co.uk/2011/12/08/from-lady-gaga-to-rihanna-top-5-controversial-music-videos-of-2011-248036/

Metrolyrics (2013). “Born This Way Lyrics.” Retrieved from http://www.metrolyrics.com/born-this-way-lyrics-lady-gaga.html

The Sun (2011). “Lady GaGa Blasted by Critics.” Retrieved from http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/music/3565300/Lady-GaGa-blasted-by-critics-over-controversial-Judas-music-video.html

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