Category Archives: People

Who Let a Stan Write PopJustice’s “Born This Way” Review?

PopJustice’s sycophantic review of “Born This Way,” which was obviously written by a crazed Lady Gaga stan, is such a hot, steaming mess that one hardly knows where to begin with it. I’ll simply take it paragraph by obnoxious paragraph and let my readers sort through the debris:

We’ll explain what happened that night in more detail at some other time but the point is that to have heard ‘Born This Way’ in May might seem like quite a big treat, but to be quite honest it has been a complete nightmare. Obviously if someone says to you “would you like to hear the next single” (even if at that point the next single was strictly ‘Alejandro’ but you know what we mean) you are hardly going to say “no I will leave it thanks very much” but the intervening months have been like torture. Imagine hearing an amazing song once, then not being able to hear it again. IMAGINE. The melody of this song has been haunting us for EIGHT MONTHS. We have been humming it on the bus. Imagining the video. We have literally had dreams about this song.

Seriously? Over a fifteen-second a capella rendition of half of the chorus? You’ve been having dreams about it, humming it; it’s been haunting you? Well, that didn’t take long: we’ve already given up the ghost! This clearly reveals that this article was written by a raging stan — and hence is impossible to take seriously as an editorial review. Stan reviews can be fun — I’m a Britney stan, as is known — but such writers shouldn’t claim impartiality, and certainly shouldn’t be writing on behalf of an entire site. Let this person review work by Pink, Rihanna, Katy Perry — but don’t let it review the person it stans for!

So hearing the song again for a second time, just before Christmas, was a relief. Not just because we were slightly less drunk on this occasion, but because the relative clarity allowed us to acknowledge the fact that, yes, ‘Born This Way’ really is just as special as our memory had led us to believe. It was handy also to be able to confirm that yes, the song did in fact exist and no, we hadn’t just somehow made the whole thing up.

So what’s it like?

Well it’s sort of amazing.

Actually it’s not sort of amazing, it just is amazing. And yes we would say that because we do genuinely think Lady Gaga is the best thing to happen to pop in at least 18 years. But we are also saying it because the song is amazing, and if that’s not complete objectivity we don’t know what is. (Well it’s not that for a start – Objectivity Ed)

Sorry, Britney. Sorry, Justin. Sorry, Beyonce. Sorry, Christina. Sorry, Pink. (Sorry, Max Martin!) We know you’ve all been chugging away since the 90s, but apparently you’ve all been outdone in the span of two years by someone who has yet to prove that she’s not the next flash-in-the-pan Paula Abdul. Unbelievable!

You want to know what it sounds like, obviously. Well, it is very straightforward song and the production matches that – compared with the all-guns-blazing sound of something like ‘Bad Romance’ or ‘Dance In The Dark’ ‘Born This Way’ offers a relatively sparse, crisp, glacial sound. Also, and this will undoubtedly prompt an amusing rage from Madonna fans incapable of comprehending a world in which more than one female singer can be popular, so brace yourself: ‘Born This Way’ sounds a bit like a modern nod to ‘Vogue’ and ‘Express Yourself’, with a bit of ‘Deeper & Deeper’ thrown in for good measure. The production is far from boring (it sounds great and nothing like what Gaga’s done before) but if you’re expecting some sort of death metal/Belgian techno crossover hit you may wish to adjust your expectations ahead of Friday’s first play. It’s a fresh sound, but in the mentalness stakes it’s not the sort of song you would fire across a field at a cow if you wanted to make it do an involuntary poo. We are sure the rest of the album will offer plenty of sonic ridiculousness but ‘Born This Way’ is all about giving the song itself room to breathe.

Glacial? Forgive me if I say that this sounds like little more than excuse-making for a production job that doesn’t quite measure up the promised “anthemic, sledge-hammering dance beats that’s a mix of techno, pop, rock, and — does she dare say it? — heavy metal.” (Note the apology: “We are sure the rest of the album will offer plenty of sonic ridiculousness.” Oh.)

Moreover, the fact that Britney Spears, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and others were all skipped over in favor of Madonna comparisons again reveals that the author of the piece is a raging stan and is not to be trusted as an editorial reviewer. Lady Gaga is, in fact, part of a brand-new generation of stars — Ke$ha and Justin Bieber came out at around the same time that she did — and Madonna comparisons will not be appropriate until she has proven herself to have staying power. (“Toxic” came out over five years after Britney’s debut, for instance; “Hold It Against Me” was released over twelve years after and hit #1 immediately. If we’re going to talk about the heir to Madonna, let’s look at the woman she’s collaborated with and shared a stage with multiple times, not the neophyte.)

As for the song, you know the lyrics already, because Gaga posted them in full that night we did those lyric tweets. Reading the lyrics in isolation it might seem like a song with all the subtlety of George Michael collecting his holiday snaps but hearing the words in the context of the song itself the whole thing struck us as far less heavy handed, and as not so much a gay anthem as an equality song. It’s a song about gays being alright, but it’s also a song about straights being alright, and everyone else being alright too. It’s a freedom anthem, and you can’t go wrong with a bit of that. Having said this, ‘Born This Way’ will obviously be portrayed by many as a gay record. Is that a brave move?

In reverse order: Is that a brave move? Is sticking up for bullied gay teenagers brave? Well, I don’t know: is standing up against breast cancer brave? Is speaking out against Sarah Palin brave? Ridiculous. And yes, you actually can go wrong with that, when it’s handled in the ham-handed sort of way that mixes offensive, archaic racial terms (‘Oriental,’ ‘Chola’), nails-on-a-chalkboard cheesy love-yourself references, and blunt references to identity traits that are deployed with all the subtlety of a bulldozer.

This is an anthem, alright: for people with no sense of art, true individuality, or personal values. It’s also weirdly theistic, celebrating God’s love for his creations. But here’s the crux of the problem with the “Born This Way” lyrics — and why the song is not individualistic: Lady Gaga simply does not think that gays are unfairly singled out for their sexual orientation. To the contrary, in fact: she thinks that sexual orientation is extremely important and something to celebrate and revel in. Most gay people who are bullied or teased are upset because they see their sexual orientation as something irrelevant that shouldn’t determine how people see them. Lady Gaga, like the patronizing fag hag she is, looks at gay people and sees nothing but gay, gay, gay, gay, gay. And that’s what makes her such an unbearable cunt.

Well in one sense, while hardly commercial suicide, that sort of song will simply not sell as well as a song about, say, going clubbing or whatever. So it’s brave in a way, but it’s hardly true that there’s nothing to gain from all this. The Gays have not exactly sat on the fence vis a vis the whole ‘is Lady Gaga any good?’ debate, so she’s unlikely to win a large number of new fans, but in terms of strengthening ‘brand Gaga’ the idea of jeopardising sales in order to celebrate who you are will probably do her more good in the longterm. So if you were feeling uncharitable you might say that it’s a very elaborate and calculated positioning exercise, but it really doesn’t feel like it when you’re listening to the song. It just makes you feel very alright about whatever you happen to be. And, again, you can’t go wrong with a bit of that.

No, it does not make me “feel alright about whatever I happen to be.” What’s inspirational about a set of overwrought cliches, exactly? The song sounds like it was written by a middle school guidance counselor using motivational posters as his crib notes.

Perhaps this song would have, in fact, been very inspiring to me when I was thirteen and still unsure about whether I was gay, but it’s more than a bit pathetic to imagine anyone over the age of fifteen finding solace and comfort in such trite banalities. But thanks for telling us what ‘The Gays’ like, PopJustice — and for confirming that, like Mother Monster, Gaga’s stans view gay people as one undifferentiated, homogeneous mass.

Some people have asked us on Twitter how ‘Born This Way’ compares to other songs. Is it better than ‘Bad Romance’, a few people have wondered. In a battle between ‘Born This Way’ and the Britney single ‘Hold It Against Me’, others have asked, which song would win? Well to the first question it’s too early to say (we’ll hold our hands up here and say that the first couple of times we heard ‘Bad Romance’ we thought it sounded too much like ‘Poker Face’ – amazing) and to the second question we love ‘Hold It Against Me’ in some ways and we love ‘Born This Way’ in various other ways, but we prefer ‘Born This Way’. Come back to us in a few weeks once we’ve got used to both songs and ask us again, if you like.

Yes, I’m sure this Gaga stan reviewer is going to decide, a week later, that she actually prefers Britney.

What role will ‘Born This Way’ play in Lady Gaga’s ever-expanding discography?

Ever-expanding? Her second full-length album?

While her fan interaction is (for better or worse) already legendary, Gaga has always done a good job of seeming to exist, creatively, in something of a bubble. What’s interesting about ‘Born This Way’, however, is that it feels a bit like a response to two main criticisms people throw at Lady Gaga.

Oh, how I wonder if these will be strawman arguments…

Criticism 1: “You rip off Madonna all the time but don’t credit her.”
‘Born This Way’ answer: “Well how do you like this then, I’ve made a song that sounds like some of her big hits (but also like its own song), because OBVIOUSLY I know who Madonna is, it’s not as if I am somehow expecting you all to imagine that I have never heard of this ‘Madonna’ singer, it’s bloody Madonna after all isn’t it.”

No, that’s not the first criticism. The key criticism surrounding her style is her blatant theft of Roisin Murphy’s style. The entire Fame era’s wardrobe was stolen from her. This isn’t about Madonna: that’s a strawman argument set up by Monsters who are delusional enough to think that their Mother Monster is her true heir. The entire purpose of this non-argument is to put Lady Gaga’s name in the same sentence as Madonna, and nothing more.

Criticism 2: “You bang on about your bloody ‘Monsters’ all the time and you’re always going on about the gays this, the gays that, but then we listen to your music and it’s just stuff about going clubbing with a few abstract references to things being a bit weird sometimes.”
‘Born This Way’ answer: “Here’s a song that is specifically and explicitly about that sort of stuff, so piss off.”

She’s finally delivered on her constant nattering, but this doesn’t nullify her arrogant criticisms of other artists over the past year for apparently thieving her ‘be-yourself’ image and trying to make it “trendy,” (clearly a shot at Katy Perry and Ke$ha), nor does it enshrine her as a revolutionary leader of misfits and freaks. She fashions herself as a blazing comet in a dark sky, but what she’s given us is a song that’s little different, substantively, from Christina Aguilera’s (superior) “Beautiful.” Every banal cliche of self-help literature has been packed into “Born This Way.” But on the bright side: at least we know that she, not a professional songwriter, wrote the words. They’re really that bad that we know that a professional songwriter could have never written them.

It feels like ‘Born This Way’ is a bit of a turning point for Lady Gaga – on both those counts it’s the moment where she’s putting her money where her mouth is. It is certainly a big test, because the absurd level of hysteria building towards Friday’s premiere (and Sunday’s first performance) is putting a huge amount of pressure on the song itself. It’s almost an unfair amount of pressure, really. Can anything live up to this hype? Mind you, when you think about how much we and so many other people harp on about her being pop’s Second Coming, it’s only fair that expectations are high. Fortunately the song is, as we have already stated, amazing.

Only a Lady Gaga stan would fail to see the preposterous nature of this paragraph. The absurd level of hysteria surrounding “Born This Way” was created entirely by Lady Gaga herself. For months, she has been declaring her work the “greatest of the decade,” the “anthem for our generation,” and so forth. Her mouthpiece Pigrez Hilton swore it would “change the culture.” If there’s anyone to blame for a seemingly unfair level of hype, it’s her and her minions. She has overpromised, and she cannot possibly deliver on this. The lyrics have already proven that this is an exercise in self-indulgence.

So what happens next? Well, you’ll hear the song on Friday, then you’ll see it performed at the Grammys on Sunday. What we think will happen in the short term is that ‘Born This Way’ will make a massive short-term impact post-Grammys but will not instantly provide Gaga with the same sort of huge leap forward she experienced with ‘Bad Romance’. That job may well be done by the album’s second single, which will then lead into the album release. And then, over the next year or so, in the context of the rest of the album and with added familiarity, ‘Born This Way’ will seem like less of an ‘ooh look at me sorting out equality for a generation’ statement song and will instead just start to seem like a completely normal pop song. Which, ‘message-wise’, we suppose is sort of the whole point – you get in people’s faces so you don’t need to get in people’s faces any more. Perhaps the moment when ‘Born This Way’ clicks as a completely normal pop song is the moment when ‘Born This Way’ has changed pop.

The author once again reveals himself as a Gaga stan: “sorting out equality for a generation”? No…no, I’m sorry. It’s a pop song, and she’s a pop singer: one taken seriously as an art-eest only by her most deluded stans. Everyone else sees her as the chick who wraps herself up in meat and sings catchy songs about getting smashed at parties.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps we’ve drifted off on a wild tangent.

You’ve got it, hotshot.

Perhaps the whole song is awful – we’ve only heard it twice and we were really, really drunk on both occasions. But we are pretty sure that ‘Born This Way’ is a solid gold pop corker and we are going to stand by that claim until further notice.

Gaga stans are in for a world of serious hurt. They have not caught on to the fact that most people purchasing Lady Gaga’s songs from iTunes are doing so because they see her, to reiterate, as the chick who wraps herself up in meat and sings catchy dance songs about getting smashed at clubs with Beyonce. They simply do not see her as a revolutionary, avant-garde voice for the voiceless. The disconnect between stan and general-public perception of Lady Gaga is so striking and so glaring and that I cannot see how this yay-for-gay project is going to pan out well for Lady Gaga. If this is an album for her gay fans who love that a celebrity will be their fag hag, so be it. But she’s walking a thin, thin tightrope if she wants this trite mess to match the commercial success of the Fame/Fame Monster eras.

Lady Gaga is an artist who desperately needs taken down a notch. If this banal, self-indulgent, over-hyped mess doesn’t harm her, then she’s probably going to be accepted for the long haul. This will, at any rate, be an interesting year: it will prove to us all whether the Lady Gaga phenomenon will be transient. If God makes no mistakes, then she should be in for a backlash on the charts.

Advertisements

“Born This Way” So Far: 2011’s Biggest Disaster-In-the-Making

Pigrez Hilton has revealed two more lines of Lady Gaga’s new song “Born This Way”: “Don’t be a drag/Just be a queen.”

If you find this empowering, go drown yourself by sticking your face in a dirty toilet bowl.

Here are the lyrics to the song, so far:

Don’t be a drag
Just be a queen

I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track
Baby I was born this way

Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track
Baby I was born this way

Unbelievable. To quote Lil’ Kim: “Better slow down, dummy/you ’bout to crash.” I couldn’t have dreamed of more ludicrous, condescending, self-indulgent ego-trip than the one she’s heading on. This song is shaping up to be a complete and utter disaster. The best melody in the world can’t save these atrocious lyrics. And the more we learn of them, the worse the song looks: we’re only in for more rounds of horrendous lyrics!

Her straight fans aren’t going to accept this, and non-Monster gay ones are going to find this song to be highly condescending. We’re in for the Great Lady Gaga Backlash of 2011, folks! Hold onto your seats…

Perez Hilton, Lady Gaga’s Butt Boy

Perez Hilton “weighs in” on the Lady Gaga/Britney Spears “competition” coming up:

If we’re putting Gaga and Brit head to head, who would Perez place his bet on? “When the dust settles, I definitely think that Lady Gaga will win in this battle just because I know personally that Gaga is so hungry and determined to make this album successful that she’s going to work so hard,” he said. “Whereas Britney and her camp think she doesn’t have to work as hard. It will be successful, but I don’t think it will be as successful as Gaga’s.”

Pigrez has long been Lady Gaga’s little sycophant. He’s been deeming her, ridiculously, bigger than Beyonce (who’s been around since the 90s) and Britney (ditto), dissing legends like Grace Jones to protect his Mother Monster from criticism, was selected to unveil a wax statue of Lady Gaga for Madame Tussand’s, and has even smooched her in public. “Lady Gaga is an inspiration to us all!” he breathlessly proclaims.

In summary, asking Pigrez to “weigh in” on the impending Gaga/Britney ‘battle’ is like asking Sarah Palin to weigh in on whether Republicans will do well in the 2012 elections. There might be a little bit of truth somewhere in the analysis, but you have to cut through a mountain of bullshit and bias to get to it.