Friday, February 25th, 2011

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, yet the best caption I can come up with is still “Ladies and gentlemen, the fabulous Diana Vickers Dancers!”…



[Video][Website]
[4.71]

Iain Mew: For the past year or so, watching the “Just Dance” video has been a sure way of inducing cognitive dissonance. After the awesome, meticulous realisation of vision that was The Fame Monster and associated campaign, it’s a bizarre and unreal feeling to go back to seeing and hearing a document of GaGa not as unstoppable phenomenon but as mere ordinary pop star. “Born This Way” will not have as ordinary looking a video, and doesn’t give up a large section of its lines to some guy called Colby, but it produces a bit of the same feeling. There are more moments of buzzing excitement in its multiple layers than “Just Dance”, and it has an even more hugely constructed chorus, but for the first time in a while you can see the joins.
[6]

Edward Okulicz: Sometimes it’s hard to write about a song because the event feels bigger than the song. But what more needs to be said? That the event is bigger than the song is instructive; “Born This Way” is too gauzy and impenetrable sonically, and its tune barely more than OK. The hype would have had more pay-off if the song had been up to “Like A Prayer” standard, rather than, well, “4 Minutes”. It at least flies the flag for a style that’s much-missed to many people who think that mid-90s dance-pop had a combination of adrenaline and guilelessness that has gone missing since then. “Express Yourself” and “Ooh.. Aah.. Just A Little Bit” are perfectly good sources from which to pillage, but genius doesn’t just steal, it reshapes and improves.
[4]

Martin Skidmore: Becoming the new Madonna is a perfectly laudable ambition for any newer pop star, and Gaga has had the right level of success so far. This doesn’t make copying “Express Yourself” with a dash of “Vogue” spoken/rapped parts an inspired idea. It has a big anthemic chorus, but the closeness of the copy meant it did nothing for me.
[3]

Al Shipley: As anticlimactic as it is after all the build up, it’s still quickly rocketed up to my 2nd or 3rd favorite Gaga single, far behind you-know-what but neck and neck with “Alejandro.” As far as stolen hooks go, you could steal from much worse, and I enjoy how overstuffed and bombastic it is.
[7]

Chuck Eddy: Well-intentioned, but heavyhanded. Obviously. I never liked “Express Yourself” much in the first place, unless we’re talking Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. This still has a palpable dancefloor stomp to it, though — and that it’s kind of generic might well be on purpose; Gaga’s clearly paying tribute to a style of music here as much as a gender preference. Also think the “Vogue”-ripoff rap might be my favorite part of the song, and the Lebanese/Orient stuff the most interesting words — kinda like how you can’t tell whether she’s being provocative there, or just plain clueless.
[6]

Rebecca Toennessen: I so wanted this to be THE BIG single after a (not that long) wait, but it isn’t. I’m really not too fussed over the “is Gaga ripping off Madonna” debate, because tho Madge is a clear influence, name any artist/band without comparable influences. Alas, I just love her to bits in a near irrational way and am super psyched for the album.
[7]

David Moore: Since I don’t want to indulge this track’s craven need to be considered in the context of how its presumed audiences might use it (remember, what she literally said was express yourself, not empower yourself — that’s just tacky!), I’ll say instead that it doesn’t pass my “double lameness” test. (1) Is the song itself lame? (2) Would the extras in a movie in which this song appeared cheer and dance in overcompensating desperation to convince me it was not, in fact, so very lame? The first one is disappointing, the second one is a little offensive.
[4]

Jer Fairall: My problem isn’t with her insistence on continuing The Great Gay Pander-Off of 2010 with somehow even less subtlety, or even her cribbing from circa-1989 Madonna (there are worse sources, and certainly worse Madonna phases, to steal from), but rather how “Born This Way” seems to represent Gaga’s move from writing actual songs to constructing bloated Productions of the sort that became the post-millenial boy band/Britney standard as learned from Michael (and Janet — I hear almost as much “Rhythm Nation” pomposity in here as I do “Express Yourself” ebullience) Jackson, forgetting that a large part of her initial appeal was just how better-than-that she was. That she comes this close to selling this nonsense anyway might be as great a testament to her genius as a pop craftsman as “Telephone” or “Bad Romance” are in their actual awesomeness, but this already feels like the shark jump.
[5]

Kat Stevens: As part of my new(ish) job I have to touch up jpegs in Photoshop, adjusting for bad lighting and occasionally airbrushing things to make them more factually interesting, pixel by pixel. After a long day staring at the monitor a little too closely, it’s easy to end up tweaking and smudging the edges and colours too much, and you zoom back out and realise the whole thing looks awful. I wonder how long the producers and mixers spent retouching and fiddling this uber-maximal track, layering and overdubbing and filtering. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had huffed on it then rubbed it to a shine with their shirt sleeve. There’s so much there to pick apart: I love the wobbly cello on the intro, the metallic gargle of a robot throwing up when there’s no liquid left down there, the mooing bass that pops up every now and again, the More Cowbell and the Kitchen Sink. Alas these relatively subtle elements are shoved aside as Gaga herself barges onto the stage, trampled under the “Express Yourself” chords and the gargle join-the-dots square foghorn melody. It’s a bloody mess, and I wish someone had zoomed out to 100% and looked at the full picture.
[6]

Zach Lyon: Maybe this wouldn’t be such a disaster if she didn’t leak the lyrics before the track — it’s not like lyrics were ever her main selling point anyway. It would also help if they weren’t uniformly terrible, infantile and kind of racist. It’s a shame, because beneath everything is some production that could be potentially game-changing in its pure weirdness. It’s a different sort of maximalism than Luke/Max/Blanco ’10, some hybrid of way too many interesting-sounding ideas all car-crashing together in this frantic confusion over how one is supposed to actually produce an Event Song.
[3]

John Seroff: Gaga’s fifteen minutes continue to stretch interminably on with a late-era-Madonna pastiche that suggests she’s pretty sure Pink’s got the right idea. “No matter black, white or beige”? Thumping, dumb and dull.
[3]

Josh Love: Aside from “Bad Romance” and a couple of other tunes, I’ve so far found Lady Gaga’s celebrity more interesting than her music. But even her least inspired stuff has tended to have at least some kind of listening utility. “Born This Way,” meanwhile, doesn’t feel like a song at all. It’s a statement, a rallying cry, an anthem, and its sincerity and efficacy as a political act has already been weighed intelligently by others. But as a song…well, I’d feel a lot more charitable towards “Born This Way” if Gaga had released it as a one-off single, as opposed to making it the title track and ostensible centerpiece of her new album. Because musically this thing’s an absolute cipher, and it makes me worry that the rest of the record is going to be full of similar efforts that replace songcraft with artlessly broad gestures and stadium-sized sentiments.
[3]

Anthony Easton: Gay icons from the beginning of time were chosen by the community, and those icons spoke to the communities in a kind of nudge nudge wink wink code. It became a place where paratextual understanding of sexual desire was more important than textual desire. This changed in the 70s, where the emergence of genuine queer narratives, and a suspicion of where the money came from meant that the paratext was slid away for genuine textual interventions. Madonna did this sort of brilliant and sort of offensive thing where she explicitly connected the paratextual encoding to the explicit textual emergence, and claimed herself as the last great gay diva. This occurred especially in “Vogue”, and “Justify my Love”. When Beth Ditto then uses the aesthetic of this era of Madonna, as a lesbian of size, she further deconstructs the problems of class, race and sexuality that Madonna bulldozed over in an ambitious race to get to the top (though Ditto is still white, and her backup dancers are still black, so there is a bit of reinforcing racial privilege that goads). Gaga, no matter how much she thinks of herself as an outsider, and no matter how well appreciated her return to the bestial when it comes to sexuality is, steals the hooks from Madonna and the “blonde ambition” but is much more ragged around the edges — and this being ragged around the edges is not an aesthetic choice. She continues to claim strangeness, when she becomes a simualacra of others people’s hard work. The egg thing at the Grammys is pure Matthew Barney, but Barney reinforces masculine physicality, and grand heroic narratives. This text does neither of those things — so why is she quoting Barney, is it on purpose? The politics are suspect, the lyrics are reactionary (“Born this way” — from a woman who claims to be a master of the self-fashioning, plus the whole oriental thing), the aesthetic is not only cribbed but cribbed clumsily, and I keep hoping kids these days were as smart as kids who recognized that no matter how genius “Vogue” was, there were so many problems with a white girl cribbing so much of Paris is Burning.
[0]

Katherine St Asaph: To understand “Born This Way,” you must first understand what it is not: a Lady Gaga song. Flash back to the moment before the Grammys, before Esperanza Spalding became a Best New Artist and Quesadilla, before Arcade Fire became a cultural flashpoint and before America had any idea they’d care about either. No, their minds were on Gaga and the promise of Gaga Reborn, emerging from silence (“Alejandro” was half a year ago, which is a lifetime on the radio) to collect her Fame Monster plaudits, smash her just-leaked single to #1 and shove the pop conversation forward, again. If not that, they wanted to know what she’d dress up as. A boat? A goat? A Grammy? A granny? And then she came in an egg. Not dressed as an egg, as everyone said and got wrong — inside an egg. Hiding. Even the cameras, trained to follow the brightest stars, gave her a cursory five minutes then turned to gawk at Nicki Minaj’s leopard getup and Katy Perry’s angel wings. Gaga’s performance was much the same; her yolk hat, which if it weren’t for that egg entrance would look like just any yellow hat, was the only noteworthy staging, and the inclusion of the Toccata and Fugue was the only noteworthy part of the performance. If you wanted spectacle, Cee-Lo brought Muppetloads; if you wanted musicality, Bruno Mars, the Mumfords and so many others equaled or outdid her. Then Gaga left. And stayed gone: winning little on screen and appearing only in clips, she effectively erased herself from the Grammys script. This same self-negation was apparent on the studio version, her Fame-era sound brand (say what you want about RedOne, but he crafted a specific sound) and Monster-era experimentation subsumed into Madonna-isms and her image turned into that of a generic wind-machined blonde. Considering that Lady Gaga’s image was the single most exciting thing about 2010 pop, not to mention the thing that legitimized her as an Artist and not another electro-trash poseur, this is quite the sacrifice. There’s a reason, of course; “Born This Way” is a message song. That’s why it exists. That’s all. And yes, that message is clumsy — leaving aside “chola” and “orient,” which is a shit-ton to leave aside, the lyrics get dumber with each listen. Why would you give teens a subway kid to identify with when half your fanbase has never set foot in a subway because their towns don’t have any? Isn’t telling picked-on kids not to be a drag kind of insulting? And then you get to questions of motive. Isn’t Lady Gaga exploiting her gay fans by stealing the statements of the marginalized (not to mention those of Madonna) to sell back to them and get filthy rich? And why chola? Why Orient? All of these are legitimate criticisms, but they miss the fact that “Born This Way” is a huge risk for Gaga. It’s just begging for backlash, and she’s getting tons — possibly enough to affect sales. Born This Way won’t tank, but there’s now a nonzero chance it’ll falter and go down in history as a pandering sell-out, either a low point or the beginning of the end. But the risk is deliberate. This isn’t a song by Lady Gaga song; it’s now by the people. Don’t believe me? Go on Tumblr or Twitter or Facebook, those Web halls where the kids hang out. They’re posting lyrics, but more than that, they’re embroidering bits of “Born This Way” into their worldviews. Their lives, at least for seconds, depend on it. They depend on the way it so easily loops and reloops itself into infinite replayability. They depend on that moment when it bursts onto the radio in the Bible Belt and affirms being gay, straight, bi, transgendered — every letter in LGBT! On the radio! Uncensored! Most of all, they depend on its existence and, consequently their affirmation. Nobody outside the Haus knows what Born This Way will sound like. For all we know, Gaga will come out dressed as Cthulhu and sounding like Buckethead. But it doesn’t matter. For one glorious moment, Gaga stepped aside and let her song do what it was born for, perfectly.
[10]

Alfred Soto: As I wrote (in part) elsewhere: “Look, if the pedantry of “Born This Way” keeps a gay boy from jumping off a bridge, fantastic; but she endorses a featureless universalism, not gay liberation. By reducing its audience to directors of LGBT programs in high schools and colleges, it diminishes the power of its “message,” a natural development since the song, from its bloodless thump to its collage of transnational ciphers (“black, white, beige, chola descent”), incarnates the kind of “diversity” that doesn’t honor differences so much as reduce them to signifiers of empowerment. Why else would GaGa include the lyric “We are all born superstars”? Gay kids don’t want to be “superstars” — they want to date and love in a world that respects the abyss between them and their straight brethren.”
[4]

Alex Ostroff: I had hoped that once all the hype died down, I would be able to come to “Born This Way” with fresh ears and discover an undeniable pop song. Unfortunately, there just isn’t one here. Lyrical clunkers like “subway kid rejoice your truth” and “don’t be a drag / just be a queen” are nothing new for GaGa, but normally she’s too busy deploying hooks for me to notice. Plus, earnest spoken word intros and repeated whispers of “same DNA” aren’t a good look for the woman who brought us the self-consciously hilarious “Roma Romama GaGa Ooh La La.” For all its obnoxiousness, “Born This Way” does what it should; it’s a pounding dance track and a proper event record, and it sounds like it – HUGE and FULL with a thousand tiny production details. When GaGa marries her new sonic tools to a great song or two, we’re in for a treat.
[6]

22 Responses to “Lady Gaga – Born This Way”

  1. I nearly posted this as my review, but, I suppose, it was a bit on the long side, and a little unformed:

    “Even though I half-like how “Born This Way” sounds, as gauzy as it is, lyrically I find it divisive and odious, and seeing the rah-rah reaction elsewhere, particularly from queer writers, made me feel uneasy, empty, hollow… estranged. I don’t use the Q word often, even if I’ve openly lusted after male pop stars on this site, but as a queer person, I really feel that Gaga is tapping a vein here in a clumsy way that rather than making her some kind of queenlike iconic figure to her gay fans, she’s risking looking like that most insufferable of people: those who are mere tourists in the land of sexual warfare.

    Madonna? Been there, lived it. You’ll find on Erotica narratives about the prism of sexuality darker and deeper than anything Gaga has up her sleeve. It isn’t just her relationship with her brother, her mentors, her life in the gay discotheques that shape her as a gay icon. It is her resilience, her odes to expression, self-respect, love, lust, hate, power, greed, shame, bliss, sadness… the things that make all of us human. She doesn’t just address one group with a dog whistle. Everyone can hear her messages – get up and dance, love yourself, don’t let anyone treat you like dirt, don’t be afraid to feel how you feel, love how you love. They work as gay anthems too because they show an understanding of our humanity as part of all humanity.

    Gaga? Don’t know about that. I know they’re only trying to help, but sometimes the people that irk me most are the comfortably heterosexual, your Kinsey Ones, who’ve had one or two gay experiences and think that they belong to the same discriminated class. You know them, they’re always in a heterosexual union, and are always able to run away to normality, but are the first to point out their apparent bisexuality as if it is some kind of merit badge. As if it’s a privilege entitling them to further outrage at the world! They know discrimination and intolerance and violence and living in fear mostly in the abstract.

    Lady Gaga is this person to me, right now. I appreciate the sentiment, but it curdles; it cloys.

    “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen.”

    She hangs out with designers and artists and songwriters, fields with many great gay contributors. But she deigns to write anthems for all of us, but I can’t see anything but gauche wallpapering over our history, our diversity, not separate from the heterosexual history, but intertwined and part of it, that could end up as hurtfulness to the kids in the Bible belt, or in countries where homosexuality is illegal or heavily proscribed by society. What would she know of these people? They weren’t fabulous. Were they… drags? What does she want them to do? Stand up and be stoned to death? I’m sure Gaga wouldn’t volunteer to lead a gay rights parade down the centre of Riyadh. Gaga’s risky move is so _riskless_, because her empowerment message here is so airbrushed, sterile and divorced from reality. Whatever she is, she’s accepted for who she is, so good on her for using that power for campaigning for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but that just means she should know she’s better than something this cheap. Saying that everyone else should be who they are is just so much sexual “Let them eat cake” for my tastes. She is a privileged person wondering why everyone else isn’t acting like she is, as if they could.

    You can’t just put out a song that is supposed to be a rallying cry to gay men, and it’s irresponsible to drop one knowing people are going to read it that way. It is, as I said it before, a dog whistle. The connotative of her story is linked so strongly to that of the gay community she can’t claim plausible deniability or anything. But we don’t all march to the same 4/4 beat. Not all gay people want to be queens. We vary, damn it.

    It is apparently human nature to see things in terms of dichotomy. Black, white. Night, day. Et cetera. Man, woman. Complementary dichotomies? Straight, gay. Moral opposites? We are taught that men are like this and women are like that, and because society is sometimes bad to us, that gay men and women fall somewhere in between. Sure, they look the same, but, they do THIS! And this. And, can you believe, that? They are not the same. They fall between two stools. We are not real men/women. Gay men are pansies, poofs, queens. Women are butch, bull dykes, tom boys. But we’re not all like that. We are as different as our straight brothers and sisters. Lesbians are reduced to either “ugly dykes” or wank fantasies. Gay men are sitcom comic relief, or hypermasculine.

    Judith Butler, of course, argued that the idea of two biological sexes was just as socially constructed as two societally-constructed genders. That’s how we work, we break things into halves so we can understand them sometimes. We define ourselves by what we’re not, as much as what we are. Lady Gaga is yet another in a long line of people who seems to want to break homosexuality into two kinds – fabulous/frumpy? – and this is an anthem seemingly in thrall to this notion. She’d just as soon naturalise us into two sub-genders so she can romance us.

    You can’t put a dichotomy like that into a song and expect it not to offend people.

    This song isn’t about empowerment. It is just sloganeering and encouraging people to stand behind differences as crutches rather than celebrate what unites us. I was born the way I am, not “this” way (that word might be the most problematic of the whole song), and all I want to do is go about my daily life, dressed as unfashionably as I currently am, dancing as badly as I always have and to one day settle down with a man to call my own some day. Gaga’s utopia doesn’t bring my dream any closer to being. Include me out.”

  2. Two very quick thoughts (which, for all I know, somebody else might have raised elsewhere — it’s not like I had been paying attention to the conversation about “Born This Way” at all until I read the reviews above, and other people have obviously given this song infinitely more thought than I have; never even heard it until I listened to it for Jukebox): (1) It’s worth mentioning that Madonna’s “Express Yourself” was itself in part a pastiche of previous hits (the Charles Wright one I mentioned above and the Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself,” for instance) — in fact, I’m pretty sure one of the reasons it bored me at the time is that it struck me as lazy and unoriginal; and (2) Is it at all possible that Gaga’s use of the word “Orient” is a play on the word “orientation,” hence no accident? Not saying that justifies it, and probably the context in which she uses it negates any connection; just wondering if that had occurred to anybody else.

  3. Haha it would have been brilliant if she’d somehow incorporated “I’m expressing with my full capabilities/now I’m living in correctional facilities”.

  4. The positive message here couldn’t be more lazily delivered.

  5. Kat,

    Brilliant fucking review.

  6. I figured I’d be an outlier, but not this much of an outlier. Same principle as “Teenage Dream,” except the counterpull toward [0] was completely gone, every criticism disintegrated almost immediately after it was typed and, once I put the score in, nothing else seemed right. Also worth noting: none of the above would apply at all if it weren’t listenable, but I’d say it wins the “at this second, would I rather listen to this or that?” snap-judgment test over at least 60% of songs. Gaga sings it well, the melody is good enough (it’d have to be, it worked before) and the production is at times genuinely excellent.

    As far as the Orient/orientation pun, Ann Powers mentioned it; there are probably others.

  7. hmm, that “Orient/Orientation” thing makes even more sense considering it follows “Lebanese” and that’s a word I’ve often heard people use as a joking way of saying “Lesbian.”

  8. Lesbian/Lebanese is a joke at least as old as The Golden Girls (the show, not he actual girls).

  9. “Obviously. I never liked “Express Yourself” much in the first place, unless we’re talking Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.”

    What about N.W.A.’s version? Anyway, to me this song signals the death of Gaga as interesting, if hugely overrated, artist and the birth of Gaga as pandering monolith. Of course the lyrics are incredibly dopey, but that isn’t really the problem per se, because if you think about it, Michael Jackson turned similarly dopey lyrics into pretty great pop; see ‘Black and White’ or ‘Heal the World.’ The difference is that Jackson sung that sort of thing with a kind of childlike sincerity and complete commitment that made his simplistic worldview somehow endearing, whereas with Gaga, there’s a distance that makes me feel like she’s reading from a corporate diversity policy – and also, as Eduardo says, a kind of condescension. Whereas something like ‘Black and White’ works because Jackson himself is part of the group he’s trying to liberate from racial classification – and indeed, the whole song could be read as, “stop asking questions about my changing color.” So there’s a personal investment there, it’s not like he’s some white guy pontificating from his mansion on the irrelevance of race. Basically what I’m saying is that my first reaction to this was, “wow, Lady Gaga has chosen to come back with a better version of ‘Fireworks.'”

  10. [i] Jackson himself is part of the group he’s trying to liberate from racial classification[/i]

    I mean, and GaGa is part of the group she’s trying to reassure. What really matters is that ‘Black or White’ is a funky sleek pop song, and ‘Born This Way’ is not good enough as a song to make me rock the fuck out and forget about the reasons why it bothers me.

  11. Give or take it’s car-smash video, I never thought “Black Or White” was that great as Michael songs (or even Dangerous songs — see “Give In to Me” and “Who Is It” especially) go, but if it’s going to be mentioned here, somebody should note that it might also be another song that borrowed something from the year-earlier “Vogue” (i.e., “it makes no difference if you’re black or white/if you’re a boy or a girl”). Though arguably Prince got there first, in “Controversy” way back in 1981 (“I just can’t believe all the things people say/Am I black or white, am I straight or gay.”)

  12. No, Black or White isn’t that great – I even prefer ‘Why You Wanna Trip On Me’ – but more for reasons of craft than anything else. Otherwise, I do buy what he’s selling.

  13. Bah, the Lebanese/lesbian thing went completely over my head (although it’s still not an excuse for “Orient,” especially not when she has to go into “chola or Orient-made,” defeating the whole purpose.

    But I heard this a few times on my drive back from work and yes it is still a wholehearted [10].

  14. Yeah, this has dropped to a 2 for me – the more I hear it the more nauseating, calculated and disturbingly evocative of ‘When Love Takes Over’ it gets. There’s something just so hollow and Fireworksesque about these assurances that everyone’s a superstar. Regardless of how many kids embrace it on Tumblr, it’s still terrible to me. I mean, I’m sure there are millions of kids who think some Jason DeRulo song is a beautiful statement of true love.

  15. Playing the role of the elder statesman of the blergists (I’m 45 and thus old enough to have been there for the influences’ prime), I’m guessing none of you have picked up that it’s equal parts “Like Flames” by Berlin (the flop follow-up to the Top Gun cool-crusher for Teri Nunn, no matter how much Andrew Eldritch tried to say otherwise – the middle eight of “Flames” is wholesaled in the melody of “Born”) and “Express Yourself”, plus an EST-y spoken word flourish about self-empowerment, deployed (with one of the most memorable awards show entrances, a very nice homage to Jobriath’s projected stage show that never was, hehe) by the savviest character in pop. The giveaway was the ’60 Minutes’ interview that aired just before the Grammy’s, in which little Steffi revealed that her philosophy that when one creates such a spectacle that said spectacle is all anyone can talk about, the creator of said spectacle is afforded a certain luxury of being able to maintain some level of privacy as all the public can talk about is the spectacle. Love her politics, like her music, respect her instincts, and despite the comparisons in the beginning, I think she and not Ms Aguilera will be her gen’s most identifiable pop icon due to sheer force of will and peerless intellect.

    And as for the she’s ripping off Madge, we said the same shit about Madge in relation to Debbie Harry 20-some years ago.

  16. Edwardo, I think you’re doing a lot of projecting and false attribution there. Where does this song establish a dichotomy such that gays can only be fabulous or frumpy? Where does it even talk at any length about the particular characteristics of gay men and lesbians, much less reduce those characteristics to old stereotypes? Where does it wonder why other people can’t be as open as she is? Where does this song tell gay people in hazardous situations to go forth and get themselves killed? It doesn’t. It tells them to be proud of who they are. About as basic a message as it gets. Also, “whatever she is” is an admitted bisexual , meaning that when she sings “no matter gay straight or bi”, she’s actually included in that. She’s not some straight lady pontificating on the problems of LGBT people with some kind of detachment or distance.

    If we’re also talking about words that make the song problematic, I find it odd, especially after mentioning Judith Butler, you would focus on the word “this”, rather than “born”. Because honestly, we don’t know if we were born this way or that way or what way we were born or how much of what we were born to be has been influenced or altered by everything we’ve experienced after being born or how the way we are born has been shifted by culturally prescribed notions of what is and is an acceptable way to exist. The notion that born=natural and natural=good is another social construction worth interrogating, but this song doesn’t strike me as trying to be the musical form of the entirety of queer theory. It strikes me as a simple song telling people to take pride in who they are.

    As an aside, Madonna has never managed to do anything to appeal to me as a gay black man. She’s done a good job of aping the hell out of my and other’s race/cultural backgrounds to reinvent herself, but I’ve always found her to be far more calculated and self-serving in her supposed displays of alliance and love than anything Gaga has done.

  17. “I think she and not Ms Aguilera will be her gen’s most identifiable pop icon ”

    Don’t think Aguilera’s really in the running here, is she? Britney, Pink and Beyonce are the generational competition surely vis-a-vis age, and Ke$ha too with regard to strict chronology.

  18. Which is a damn shame.

  19. I’d hate it so much if for some bizarre reason Aguilera became the defining pop star of her generation. She’s so so boring and just all around not good at being a pop star. Without a doubt Britney is a generation defining icon and barring something insane I’d say Lady GaGa is well on her way, but there’s really no way to say until anybody is at least a decade into their career. No way she won’t be remembered but I’m not prepared to say she’s going to define a generation. I really really hope Rihanna is remembered as someone iconic.

  20. Yeah, Aguilera is rightfully not in the running because she has no personality or originality, but does have heaping amounts of condescension and desperation. She is a flop of a pop star. But then she always was. She is the fumes of Britney Spears.

  21. may be the fumes of Empress Cheeto, but probably the best set of chops since (gulp) Celine, who despite the fact that I find her who shtick about as appealing as the clap, does in fact have a technically solid set of pipes (pipes that manage to suck the soul out of almost every song she touches, but technically, she’s close to perfect) – Ms Aguilera has on occasion demonstrated such technical proficiency as well.

    But fuck, now that the video has premiered, she (GaGa) has given us a whole new set of metrics to talk about!

  22. The video is as much of a mess as the song.