Pop Music

"Born This Way," Lady Gaga's glimmering, fabulous return

Lady Gaga's back with "Born This Way," which was officially released to much fanfare on her web site. It's a ridiculous, home-run swing of a pop anthem, replete with about a thousand keyboard tracks and a full-choir chorus that gets an a capella breakdown the last time through. Gaga, somewhat restrained vocally in the past, belts the shit out of this thing. Listen below.

It's sounded better each of the ten-odd times we've listened to it so far, even if it's straight-up jacking from about a dozen pop acts. Also, this will be the biggest gay club smash since... "Y.M.C.A."? "Dancing Queen"? Ever? Seriously, this song might as well be called "Thank You, Gay Community."

There's the title riff, obviously, but there's more. The whole thing starts with the line, "It doesn't matter if you love him or capital Him." Then there's the "Don't be a drag, just be a queen" bridge. And, at the risk of overstating things here, this could really be Gaga's greatest contribution to the cause of equal rights for homosexuals, if for no other reason than in one week everyone who listens to Top 40 will be shouting along to a song that includes the lines, "No matter gay, straight or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life/I'm on the right track, baby/I was born to survive."

We've rarely swayed by plagiarism allegations in pop music, and never with Lady Gaga. It's the people who try and pass off an old idea as their own that frustrate us -- Gaga's too smart to try that. She doesn't give you a works cited page or anything, but she's carefully cultivated her image as a mirror of the pop world. So don't consider it an indictment that we hear Robyn in the opening keyboard melody (00:19 to 00:27) and TLC after that (especially from 00:42 to 00:48), and so on, through Gloria Gaynor and George Michael and even some Jock Jams action.

Again, no hard feelings. It's not saying much, but "Born This Way" is our favorite Lady Gaga song to date. Now, if you'll excuse us, before the inevitable overexposure causes the magic to wear off in about three days, we have to do this in our apartment for the next half hour:

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Kiernan Maletsky is Westword's music editor. His writing has appeared in alt-weeklies around the country as well as Miley Cyrus's mom's Twitter feed.
Contact: Kiernan Maletsky