The performance in the following video is, what I believe, began to change my opinion of her as a professional and creative and extremely talented musician. I need to share it now, especially given that this was her first Grammy appearance 2 years ago - seems somewhat appropriate to re-visit that moment now.
This album garnered her several nominations for the 54th annual Grammy Awards (though no wins - disregard the date to this blog, I'm writing it a week after the show), including:
- Album of the Year
- Best Pop Solo Performance - "You and I"
- Best Pop Vocal Album
The influences cited almost act as homages to artists. "Marry the Night" is attributed to Whitney Houston (may she rest in peace); "Hair" and "The Edge of Glory" to Bruce Springsteen; and "Born This Way" and "ScheiBe" to Madonna. She also cites Iron Maiden, Kiss, Queen, TLC, Pat Benatar, and En Vouge as big influencers to the music we're about to dive into. Ready for this world?
"Marry the Night" is the first track, meant to be a devotion to New York City. Here we've got church bells, house beat, and a sweet funk-rock influences breakdown. This is also the latest single and our first official video to check out.
We don't actually get to the song itself until about 9 minutes into the video - sorry if that's what you were waiting for this whole time. She's been defeated and is starting over. Her art's been worn down and broken until she is meant to feel nothing anymore, but the night and this city is about to save her. I liked this song before, but I love the story if you don't look at the basic insanity of it. There's a depth to the story, while the song remains truly simple as a party and adventurous number. Also, if you're an auditioner, this may take on an even additional meeting. Great way to kick off an album - something that's already giving everyone in your audience something to listen to and for.
And we're only one track down.
The second is the lead single and title track, "Born This Way." Here's a look, first, at the Grammy performance of this number from 2010, which I think you might recognize for every "look back at last year" video used in this year's telecast.
In this album, I was given a ton of really great lyrics to live and love by. This song? "I must be myself; respect my youth." Other than the obvious wonderful chorus. Also, did you catch the "Glee" performance of this song? Or the show itself by the same title? We'll probably get to it with one of their soundtracks. But really, look it up for a sec. It's really sweet.
And now, the actual video released. Brace yourselves:
Ooook. We're going to move on before that all settles in to eventual nightmares.
This one doesn't have a single video, promise. "Government Hooker" is probably one of my least favorites on the album. It's extremely computerized, though her voice and ability to use language dynamics and dialects is really interesting. I'm sure there's also some great political message or opinion embedded in this, but I have never been able to really get into this number in general. It's just not appealing melodically, lyrically, instrumentally, ugh. None of it.
A short lived single came next in "Judas." Another one that I, personally, never understood or enjoyed particularly much. However, watching my 4 year old cousin try to sing it it hilariously adorable.
"Americano" is interesting. I'm not sure if I like it or not, which drives me a little crazy. I do love the experimental shot at a Latin type of sound, and the use of Spanglish in such an odd way. There's something completely intriguing about this song on a random listen, but it's not something I'd want to hear on a regular basis.
I don't know why on this one either, but I LOVE this song! "Hair." Here's a live performance of it from her tour.
Annnddd we're back. That was fun. Total 80's hairbrush moment. :)
"ScheiBe" is a pretty interesting track. It's, again, very electronic. I think one of the main things known on Gaga that people tend to admire is her abilities with language, and she's not holding back on this album. Lots of German influence makes for a completely different sounding track. I do love her abilities in innovation.
There's almost a Broadway-esq entrance to "Bloody Mary." It's this slowed down intense song that carries a weight to it almost unexplainable. It's sort of a realistic look at the classic story, but with obvious personal convictions on whatever this love it she's got going on. I want to say there's a strength in it, but in the end I am maybe just left a little confused.
"Black Jesus + Amen Fashion" has this really awesome backing that I want to hear all by itself. I actually maybe even love the melody a bit. Okay, I love the melody a lot. There's a lot of themes intertwined throughout this album, including religion and fashion, which I think are both incorporated into this. It's also got that weird robotic runway voice that I seem to remember from "Bad Romance," and I like ties back to old songs to remind us where we've come from.
I forget sometimes how close to my age Gaga is, until I hear a song like "Bad Kids." I wonder if she realizes, when she write, how many anthems she tends to put out into the world. This isn't really a sing-it-loud anthem, but rather a track that we can enjoy and rock to in the club without being fools. I like that it blames our upbringing for who we are, but is completely accepting of it. The beat in here is classic and awesome, and the whole thing is entrancing.
"Fashion Of His Love" is freaking awesome and I can't explain it in a way that's going to make you want to listen to it. It's a personal triumph song of being so very accepting of everything someone sees you as. Can you imagine, for a moment, having someone so completely in love with everything you are and aren't and can be? That's how I get lost in this one. The music itself has a salsa influence to it, with a dance beat, and a melody that completely lets go.
I want to like "Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)" so much, because I adore the chorus, that is, up until the word unicorn. Something about this is just too out there for me, and I didn't think that was possible. I get that's it's all for an incredible love and following that to the end all be all, but this is just too much. I'm lost on this one, as much as I love the "we can be strong" chant, notes and all.
"Heavy Metal Lover" has that extreme hard dance beat we've maybe wanted just a little bit throughout the album. It's dirty, let me tell you that much. This is the bedroom song (and don't tell me most popular albums today don't have at least one). Love that she lets go and does what she wants, but the song isn't working right for me. That's probably the point though.
I'm almost positive there's a way to approach this album as a story and concept album. "Electric Chapel" makes me think there was a story I was overlooking throughout this. Now she's calling out that this isn't about sex or partying, but something much deeper and more. Let's make it permanent. I do love the guitar on this one - the handle over the whole track is really great. I can see this being a fantastic live number. The only thing that keeps it from being a completely loved track is the whiny-ness towards the end and the lack of verses and repetitious chorus.
"The Queen" is our final video-less trac, so enjoy it while you can! We're getting those bells that we heard from the start, but then this beat comes in and signifies that the queen is coming out. Remember when we watched her and Elton John perform together? I want them to do this song, please. It's a pretty great dance song, and one of uplifting power for a woman. It's weird for me, because this feels like the end of the album, yet the two best songs on it are to come (oooohhh spoiler alert!). It's got a finality to it though. And damn if I didn't totally melt for that spanish guitar toward the end.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!
This is the first performance I had ever seen of "You And I." I was barely ever an Oprah watcher, but I did happen to catch this episode in her final week. And wow, did this song take hold on me as I listened.
Oh, and I NEED to include the VMA performance because, well, it was just freaking amazing. So much passion. I think this is when I actually fell in love with the song itself, because yes - I do that from time to time. Entire Jo Calderone. Oh yeah, you need to watch this one.
Okay, and one more. Did I mention I love this song?? Here's the real video.
I love her innovation in storytelling visually - really, she does this incredibly artistic job on every single video. I think "Bad Romance" was almost the most pure look we got at her though. There are elements of this that fit the song for me, but they're few and far between. There can be such an awesome love in this song in different ways, and the visuals of this particular video take me out of it. I don't want to leave this song on a sour note though - it truly is a beautiful piece of musical art.
So that brings us to the final song. Let's see the debut of the song on "American Idol" last year. It wasn't meant to be an actual released single, but damn it, it was demanded and so she gave. Here's "The Edge of Glory."
This, again, has so many different ways it can be taken. Gaga wrote it for her Grandfather originally, but it can mean to much more to so many people. I think it's this awesome love song, but beyond one person - it's about the people in your life and how much they bring to it. I do believe I am a sum of what others have made me to be, and this would be my celebration song with them.
Here's the released video:
Someone just answer quick - is that black Undertaker playing sax?
Okay, in all seriousness, I actually appreciate that there isn't a huge story to go with this one. I know I started this blog lauding her storytelling abilities, but this is refreshing. It's a completely freeing song and video. While I feel like the album ended a few tracks ago, this does give a fantastic wrap-up to the whole thing, and fits appropriately into that final track slot. And thanks for your thanks to the little monsters Gaga, because I'm almost completely positive that's why you went ahead with this one.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Marry The Night" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Born This Way" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Hair" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Black Jesus + Amen Fashion" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Bad Kids" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Fashion Of His Love" - Spotify, YouTube
- "The Queen" - Spotify, YouTube
- "You And I" - Spotify, YouTube
- "The Edge of Glory" - Spotify, YouTube
I have to admit I really couldn't stand Lady Gaga when she first appeared on the scene. I thought she was insane and her music was sub-par. "Paparazzi" was the first song that caught my attention as at least fun and catchy, and the video was interesting. Then, when "Born This Way" was released... my opinion changed completely. Being a music person, I did my research and realized how much she does care about what she does and wants to make a better world through music.
RedOne (producer for the album) said this was Gaga's freedom album. Her manager predicted, and I believe correctly, that this album would change her public image. I think this album took her from being a crazy Madonna-esq image changer in style to being a woman who writes songs that truly mean something more than a fun number at the clubs. "Born The Way" alone has sparked a revolution amongst people to love themselves for exactly who they are. It is an album of inspiration and a call for a better world, beginning where it should - with who we each are individually. She deals with everything and anything on the album, without rustling feathers on political issues because this Lady is classy. I look forward to more and more from Miss Gaga.