UPDATE: Amazon.com is selling “Born this Way” album downloads for 99 cents today. Meanwhile, the price at ITunes is $15.99. (Thanks to hitsdailydouble.com for the tip off.)
There’s just no question that Lady Gaga‘s “Born this Way” album sounds like the missing Madonna CD from 1988. Is it a bad thing? No, not at all. From the well known Madonna-ish title track to the annoying “Judas” and beyond, Lady Gaga (aka Stephanie Germanotta) has done what Madonna used to do so well: synthesize existing ideas into her own art form. Let’s not be stupid here. “Born this Way” is going to sell like crazy this week, maybe break a few records, and have an astounding debut on the charts. It may well do more than a one million in sales.
Will it revive the record industry? No. If anyone gets credit for that it should be Adele. Her “21” album has been number one for weeks. It’s also completely original, and Adele is an echo –not a copy–of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick. I’ve been listening to “21” for the last couple of weeks on my Zen MP3 player, and it’s remarkable. Adele is the star of the year. This doesn’t take anything away from Lady Gaga. (PS Adele’s hit “Rolling in the Deep” was played at least twice every night this year on the red carpet at Cannes. No one could get enough of it.)
But “Born this Way” is relentless, derivative, and monotonous. The songs sound alike, with few exceptions. After “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” I had higher hopes for her. There’s not much variation on “Born this Way.” Ironically, when the songs get more melodic that’s when they sound more like Madonna. Case in point: the very catchy “Bad Kids.” I also really like “Americano,” Lady Gaga’s “Isla Bonita.” “Fashion of His Love” is yet another soundalike to “Vogue” and “Express Yourself.” Ditto “Black Jesus +Amen.” Lady is obviously ga ga over this period. (There are also references in a couple of these songs to Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me.”)
One thing to say in Lady Gaga’s favor. Like Madonna, she has a good sense of timing. There’s a song here called “Government Hooker” that is almost prescient considering the current spate of politicians, movie stars, and businessmen in sex scandals. Watch for “Government Hooker,” positioned at number 3 on the track listing, to be a hit single. And one of many over the next year. This is the era of Lady Gaga. Things could be worse. Let’s dance.