Friday, January 13, 2012

Best of 2011: Lady Gaga

Best of 2011

Song: Heavy Metal Lover
Artist: Lady Gaga
Album: Born This Way

"Born This Way" was my favorite album of the year.  It was my favorite by some margin.  It was the one record that I consistently listened to since I got it in February, one that I listened to multiple time from start to finish, and... I am also not ashamed to admit that a look at my iTunes play count indicates that I've played seven of the albums tracks into triple digits... and several others over seventy some.  There was no other record that thrilled me or filled me with as much joy as "Born This Way" did, and it established to me that Lady Gaga was, as I suspected before I heard this, a formidable talent that has a very very long career ahead of her.

I really liked the way that "Born This Way" incorporated rock, "metal," dance beats, and 80's and 90's sounds for something that was new, thrilling, and yet classic sounding.  Now, obviously it's not for everyone and Gaga saw her meteoric rise slow down a bit with this album, it was backlash time this year.  The album is a little all over the place, loud, brash, and a little messy.  But I think that's the point... it's a wild journey through Gaga's head as incarnated by that, admittedly awful, "bike-Ga" cover.  (I like the special edition close up, or the above "Collection" reissue.)  And despite all of that, the album is quite a ride.  And I love just about every minute of it.

The thing about "Born This Way" is how packed with great tunes it is.  And, if you've only heard the singles from the record, you're only getting a small piece of what this monster of an album is.  And I suppose, if you've only heard the singles... it probably seems really disjointed.

"Judas," her "flop" of a second single was my favorite track of the year.  Taking everything Gaga had done prior and made it bigger, badder, and more insane.  I also just loved "The Edge of Glory," an emotional, lyrically rich song that ends the album on such a high note... it's pure life-affirming joy on the dancefloor, and was such a nice surprise hit this summer.  Her last single, "Marry the Night" didn't catch on at all, but it's also one of my favorites, and possibly could lead into the darker dance tunes on the record she hasn't unleashed yet.  "Scheiße," "Government Hooker," and possibly even "Americano" could be huge dancefloor staples in another universe, and the sexy, dirty "Heavy Metal Lover" is a classic in waiting... but will it happen?  Her singles aren't smashing like they did... and I feel she may be ready to move onto the next thing.

It's hard not to write about this record, given how big and amazing I think it is, yet didn't grab the public the way I think she intended, without a hint of shoulda, coulda, woulda.  This album is so bloody amazing I have read exhausting amount of fan input on how she maligned the album campaign... chose poor singles, videos, etc.  Whatever.  The truth is, popstars just aren't making albums like this anymore.  This is a monster in the vein of the biggest records that Michael, Madonna, and Janet did back in the 80's.  It's as big as "Thriller," as catchy and rich as "Like a Prayer," and tries to be something "important" like "Rhythm Nation."  What more could be asked for?

I know I'm going to love "Born This Way" for a long long time.  It's the kind of record that, if I was younger, would have changed my life.  No doubt.  In a year when music really fell mostly flat for me, "Born This Way" filled me with life.  Truly.


Heavy Metal Lover
Government Hooker

No comments: