Tag Archives: express yourself

New Project Idea: The Gaga Plagiarism List

So, how about a little site project?

As I re-listen to Born This Way, I can’t help but notice that almost every track has obvious influences — sometimes a bit too obvious. “Born This Way,” of course, infamously rips off “Express Yourself.” But who is talking about how “Highway Unicorn” directly rips off “Poker Face”? Have many people mentioned the striking similarities between “Electric Chapel” and Kylie Minogue’s “Cupid Boy”?

My own musical taste is probably too narrow to successfully point out all of the examples of rip-offs and questionable lines on the album. I’ve got a few more examples in the wings, but I want to see what you guys can come up with, too. When I make this list, I’ll categorize the various examples into ‘slam-dunk,’ ‘a bit suspicious,’ and ‘likely coincidental.’ I’d say that “Born This Way”/”Express Yourself” is a slam-dunk example of a rip-off, while the oft-cited Kelly Clarkson comparisons in “Edge of Glory” are likely coincidental.

At any rate, let me see the best examples of what your ear heard. We’ll turn this into a master list and spread it around the stan world.

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My Response to Arrogant Bastard DJ White Shadow

CONFIRMED: DJ White Shadow has read this blog post. I tweeted it to him and he replied saying that he read it and that “it’s great to have an opinion.” Diplomatic PR statement, or cowardly refusal to engage? You decide, reader… (Since I know that he reads his tweets, though, I told him that it speaks poorly of him and everyone on Gaga’s team that none of them had the guts to tell her that the song sounds like “Express Yourself.” Will he reply? Time will tell…)

Remember when the NME interview dropped and I speculated that, since Gaga revealed that no one around her had the courage to tell her that her “anthem of her generation” was blatantly plagiarized from Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” it is quite probable that Gaga surrounds herself entirely with sycophants?

Today, we have proof. Check out this quote from one of Gaga’s new producers, DJ White Shadow:

How many people have been copying Gaga since she came out? Oh, I have that answer: everyone. Have you seen all the lightning bolts painted on faces, or the one hand eye cover ups during photos, or the exact same promo posters being put up as Gaga’s, or the new popularity of unicorns, or the copycat fake “Oh I’m so cool with the gay community” rhetoric? Or how about the fact that there was barely any dance music on the radio until “Just Dance” came out? Come on motherfuckers, let’s keep it real here. If we are going to talk about who is chasing who, I think we all know the answer to that. So yeah, she did something new, and people had to reach back 20+ years to find a song that could have possibly sounded like it, and that made news? Come on. And I get to watch people try and fuck Gaga all the time and steal her shit, but guess what? While you were out trying to make the music she made off The Fame, thinking she was making The Fame v2.0, she went and made some next shit for you to chase for the next 3 years. So, suck on that.

Wow. Let’s take this cocky cunt’s bullshit line-by-line:

How many people have been copying Gaga since she came out? Oh, I have that answer: everyone.

A few have. Natalia Kills is a particularly glaring example, for instance. Besides her, I can’t really think of anyone “copying” Gaga.

Have you seen all the lightning bolts painted on faces,

No?

or the one hand eye cover ups during photos,

Two answers to this: (1) Apparently nobody covered one eye with one of their hands before Gaga did it in a split-second frame in the “Just Dance” video, (2) No?

or the exact same promo posters being put up as Gaga’s,

No?

or the new popularity of unicorns,

The fuck?

or the copycat fake “Oh I’m so cool with the gay community” rhetoric?

There’s a pro-gay zeitgeist, but Gaga is almost entirely a symptom, not a cause, of that.

Or how about the fact that there was barely any dance music on the radio until “Just Dance” came out?

Absolutely everything on The Fame has a precursor in three trailblazing albums: Loose, FutureSex/LoveSounds, and Blackout, whose sounds were crafted largely by the likes of Timbaland, Danja, and Bloodshy & Avant.

Come on motherfuckers, let’s keep it real here.

Indeed.

If we are going to talk about who is chasing who, I think we all know the answer to that.

Correct: Gaga is chasing Madonna.

So yeah, she did something new,

She didn’t.

and people had to reach back 20+ years to find a song that could have possibly sounded like it, and that made news?

It’s a rather famous song. The chorus to “Born This Way” was written in the same key and was, note-for-note, the same melody as the bridge to “Express Yourself.” The title of the Madonna song was trending on Twitter higher than the name of the Gaga song on the day of the song’s release. Let’s get real, here.

Come on.

Seriously.

And I get to watch people try and fuck Gaga all the time and steal her shit, but guess what? While you were out trying to make the music she made off The Fame, thinking she was making The Fame v2.0, she went and made some next shit for you to chase for the next 3 years. So, suck on that.

If he’s referring to “Born This Way,” then we’re about to hear an explosion of songs that sound like 90’s club remixes. If he’s referring to “Judas,” then he’s full of shit, since that song is most definitely The Fame v2.0. Perhaps there are fully innovative songs on the upcoming album, but from the previews we’ve been given, I seriously doubt it.

But there’s big news lurking underneath this: This man is representative of the type of people that Gaga surrounds herself with. That’s a rather unsettling thought!

New NME Interview: Is Lady Gaga Stable?

Oh, Gaga…

Just when I was ready to grant Lady Gaga some goodwill — I love “Judas” and quite liked the Born This Way cover — here drops this interview, in which she comes across as not only delusional, but a bit unstable:

A bit of it does sound quite a lot like ‘Express Yourself’, though, doesn’t it?

“I don’t think… I swear to you. I am not stupid enough to put out a record and be that moronic.”

The reference seemed so obvious that it had to be intentional because, as you say, you’re not stupid…

“No. Listen to me. Why the fuck…? I’m a songwriter. I’ve written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a song and think I’m getting one over on everybody? That’s retarded. What a completely ridiculous thing to even question me about. I will look you in your eyes and tell you that I am not dumb enough or moronic enough to think that you are dumb enough or moronic enough not to see that I would have stolen a melody. If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It’s the same one that’s been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I’m the first fucking artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn’t mean I’m a plagiarist, it means that I’m fucking smart. Sorry.”

The criticism did seem to take the wind out of the song’s sails.

“There’s a lot of people who want to see me fail. The minute they see something to shoot at, they shoot, and the bigger I become the bigger target I am. Nobody in this room at any point looked around and said ‘Oh my God, it’s ‘Express Yourself’. ‘ Not once. Listen. I swear to you. I can only be honest with you about it.”

What will people say about ‘Judas’?

“I dunno… I think they will really love it. (Starting to well up) I just don’t want my fans… I don’t know. This is exhausting. I just don’t wanna perpetuate that shit. I’m sure you want to address it but it’s just so ridiculous. I was just fucking shellshocked by it. It’s so funny to hear you say, ‘It must have been a homage’, I’m like, NO. When I homage, I fucking homage with a big sign saying I’ve done it. Why would I not do that now? (Sighs) I just like… I just have to say… (Starts crying) I feel like honestly that God sent me those lyrics and that melody. When you feel a message to give to the world and people are shooting arrows at it… there’s no way for something that pure to be wrong. (Reaches for Marilyn Monroe lighter) I need a cigarette.”

A few comments.

(1) It’s likely that nobody told her that it sounded like “Express Yourself” because of the kind of attitude she displayed here. She surrounds herself with sycophants who tell her how artistic, brilliant, beautiful and talented she is. Anyone accusing her of being anything other than a revolutionary renegade goddess is likely subject to verbal abuse. She is living in a fantasy world, and so far, she keeps the money rolling in. But she, like Britney Spears shortly into her career, is not surrounded by people who have her best interests at heart. If nobody told her that it sounded like “Express Yourself” — I mean, ‘Express Yourself’ was trending on Twitter on the day that “Born This Way” dropped — then her handlers are either profoundly ignorant of pop history (which is not good), or they are sycophantic yes-men who worship her every move. I’m betting on the latter, and that’s not good for her well-being.

(2) She says that God himself sent her the melody to “Judas.” I suppose that she does identify RedOne with God, given that he is the man behind her the hits that made her famous, such as “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “LoveGame,” and “Bad Romance.”  Wait, I think she meant for “Born This Way.” Well, that’s even more embarrassing. But wait — I thought she said that her Little Monsters wrote the album? Now God did. Okay.

(3) The melody of the chorus of “Born This Way” is identical, note-for-note, to the bridge of “Express Yourself,” and the songs are in the same key. Whether she consciously sought to copy the song is one thing, but as an amateur songwriter, I can tell you that we are sometimes inspired by songs when we don’t even realize it. We listen to thousands of songs and what we process isn’t always what we recall at any given moment. But it’s incumbent upon you, when you realize you’ve copied someone, intentionally or not, to admit it and move on. Gaga, of course, cannot do this, because she is nuts.

(4) This woman is going to have a major breakdown within the next three years. She has demonstrated no signs of emotional stability. She’s consumed by her work, but that can’t keep up forever.

Overall? I’m getting worried for this woman’s stability.

Madonna Rep: What Gaga E-Mail?

Although Lady Gaga told Jay Leno the other night that Madonna sent her an e-mail confirming that she gave Express Yourself (Remix) Born This Way her blessings, a rep for Madonna confirms that no such e-mail exists:

Earlier this week, the singer told Jay Leno that the Material Girl approved her new single, which some critics called a rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” “I got an e-mail from her people and her, sending me their love and complete support on behalf of the single and if the queen says it shall be, then it shall be,” Gaga said.

But Madonna’s rep has told CNN’s Headline News Entertainment that she is unaware of any email that Madonna has sent.

Um…awkward.

In truth, Madonna said all that she needed to say by uploading an old performance of “Express Yourself” to her YouTube account a few days ago. What a bad bitch!

Ahem…

Lady Gaga must have borrowed some of Whitney Houston’s coke before accepting her Scammy award for Best Pop Vocal Album. Upon receiving it, she thanked Whitney Houston for being her inspiration in the ten minutes it took her to write “Born This Way.”

The rest of us think that she probably had someone else in mind…

Gaga Round-Up: Ryan Tedder, Madonna’s Brother, and, Um…an Egg?

Ryan Tedder and Madonna’s brother both have called out Gaga’s blatant plagiarism. Still not sold? Try to ignore the production and tempo, and just sing these lines in succession: “Don’t go for second-best, baby, put your love to the test — I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way!”

And apparently Gaga just showed up to the Grammys in, um, an egg. We can only assume she’s going to hatch on stage and be ‘born this way’; I’m hoping instead that Madonna grabs the egg and scrambles it.

“Born This Way” Smashes Radio Records

Media reviews and the general reaction from the pop blogosphere were decidedly mixed, but at least on the radio, Lady Gaga met expectations. The song annihilated Britney Spears’ recently-set record for “Hold It Against Me,” racking up three times as many spins as that song on its first day at radio. We can anticipate that the song will break the first-week record as well. How high can it go? I’ll go out on a limb and call 7,500 spins.

The hype behind this song — created mostly by Gaga herself — was enormous, and public interest in the woman has not let up. The question is whether this song will have any longevity. Curiosity cannot hold a song’s position forever: the general public actually has to respond to it. Nobody I know who wasn’t already a Little Critter actually cares much for the song. They listened or purchased out of curiosity, but were a bit surprised to not hear another “Bad Romance.” Born This Way has already fallen out of Twitter’s trending topics list, and DJs at multiple radio stations, including those in New York and Florida, have admitted that the song really is just a rip-off of “Express Yourself.” Online polls — including Pigrez Hilton’s — unanimously show that people prefer “Hold It Against Me” in a match-up.

Gaga steamrolled on the first day, and managed to match the hype with spins. But I’m not convinced she can keep this up. This song simply cannot sustain her for three months, and I still think they’ll end up releasing “Judas” by the second week of April.

“Born This Way” Media Round-Up

Overall, mixed reviews, with a consensus that she blatantly ripped off Madonna.

The Boston Herald:

This morning Lady Gaga released “Born This Way” — the title track from her May 23-due album. How is it?

Well, do you like Madonna? Because Gaga sure does. Her love of the Material Girl isn’t exactly breaking news, but “Born This Way” (listen to it below) takes Gaga’s Madge fetish to a new level. The straight-ahead, thumping club beat nicely recalls “Express Yourself.” The cadence of Gaga’s voice during the spoken-word bits and the stecatto vocal melody is straight out of “Vogue.”

The Sun:

LADY GAGA has faced a storm of criticism from MADONNA fans today who claim her new single resembles a vintage Madge track.

The eagerly-awaited Born This Way hit the net this morning – followed by a flurry of comments saying it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Material Girl’s 1989 Top Five smash Express Yourself.

And I tend to agree.

The Atlantic:

Lady Gaga’s new single “Born This Way” debuted this morning, after months of hype. To say that the musical world is excited for Gaga’s new song—which she will perform this Sunday at the Grammys—is an understatement (a local D.C. radio station has pledged to play it at the top of the hour every hour for the rest of the day).

How does it sound? Pretty familiar, actually.

The Washington Post calls her a thief but likes it anyway:

Lady Gaga’s new release final hit the interwebs Friday, much to the glee of her gaggle of die-hard fans. The song is not art, it won’t blow you away, and it’s a total ripoff of Madonna’s Express Yourself. It’s also a delicious pop song.

The Guardian dissents:

So what does it sound like? Well, a lot like Madonna’s Express Yourself, so much so that those two words are currently trending on Twitter. There’s also some spoken-word bits a la the Material Girl (as no one calls her any more), but it doesn’t sound copycat, more a knowing nod and a cute wink.

Born This Way is a thumping, almost disco anthem that stomps along until the chorus crashes in with the weight of a discarded meat dress. Lyrically, it’s all love yourself whoever you are and “don’t be a drag, just be a queen”. Within the ridiculously camp musical context, the lyrics sound a lot less heavy-handed than it would suggest. One suspects it will probably shift a few copies.

Huffington Post:

No matter what it sounded like, for everyone but diehard “little monsters,” it wasn’t going to be enough. But more importantly, when the song doesn’t work (it doesn’t, in my opinion), there’s nothing you can do to stop the chatter. This morning, #Express Yourself is trending almost as high on Twitter as “BornThisWay or any of its hashtaggy permutations. The Web world has taken the reins on a song they already felt they owned, and for Gaga, there’s nothing to be done. She gave the song over to the world, and the world will respond back…Gaga looked into the reflecting pool and saw nothing but herself — but unlike Narcissus, maybe what she didn’t realize is that the pool was full of sharks.

People:

It’s arguably one of the most anticipated singles of the year, but is Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way” all that new?

After leaking the lyrics on her Twitter account, Gaga debuted the single, from her album due out May 23, on Friday. And while #bornthiswayfriday remained a trending topic on Twitter all morning – another term began trending as well: “Express Yourself,” as in Madonna‘s 1989 Top 10 hit. By late morning, “Express Yourself” had become more popular than #bornthiswayfriday on Twitter, with fans and foes alike comparing the songs.

“I’m sorry but it pisses me off so much that Born this way sounds like Madonna’s Express yourself. I expected Born this way to be UNIQUE,” Tweeted one Gaga lover, CelesteLoveGaga.

More to come…

Born This Way: The Review

…Oh dear.

Well, here it is. Believe it or not, I’ve been genuinely looking forward to hearing this, and while I didn’t camp out all night like I did for Britney’s “3,” I rushed to the computer when I woke up an hour ago. I’ve listened a few times now, and, well, it’s sort of exactly what I thought it would be.

It’s alright. And that’s not to be read as “Alex said it was okay, so it must be actually be awesome!” — I’ve always considered myself a fan of Gaga’s music, including many album tracks like “Boys Boys Boys” and “Starstruck” (both of which are better than “Born This Way”). But right: it’s not quite the “anthem of our generation,” and not quite befitting a lead single of the “album of the decade.” Some of Gaga’s stans are out in full force already, declaring that the song is fantastic on its own merits and shouldn’t be judged solely on whether it “meets the hype,” since, well, nothing could do that.

Well, no, I suppose that nothing could, and that would be a perfectly valid point if Lady Gaga weren’t her own one-woman hype machine. It wasn’t Rolling Stone that called this song the anthem for our generation, after all — it was her. It wasn’t Entertainment Weekly that called her next album the defining work of a generation — that was her, too. It wasn’t The New York Times that declared her one of the best songwriters in the industry — that, once again, was Lady Gaga herself.

She has yet to show that she can even write a song without peeking over at Madonna and Ace of Base’s notes. There’s no shame in covering a song, but you really shouldn’t change the title and lyrics and declare that the whole thing came from your pen. The conventional wisdom is completely right, this time: thirty seconds into the song, my jaw literally dropped: “Oh my God! It’s Madonna!” The song is “Express Yourself” on steroids, with all of the quality lyrics replaced by bromides from motivational posters.

Let’s try to review the track on its own merits, though, if that’s even possible.

Fernando Garibay’s production accomplishes exactly what Lady Gaga intended: while the dance beats don’t quite qualify as “sledgehammering” — the chorus to “Bad Romance” felt more sledgehammering to me; this track feels more, well — I won’t use the word “glacial” as PopJustice’s stan review did — but more, I’ll say, by-the-book. The production is as gay as the lyrics, but more to the point: they aren’t distracting, and they allow the lyrics and melody to emerge as the focal points of the song, which one can imagine is what she wanted. That’s dangerous new territory for her, though, as her fame has largely grown out of RedOne’s dance beats — not her lyrics, which have, to this point, been chants about boys, clubbing, sex, and booze. She rose to fame as someone who releases catchy party music. This song is a massive gamble, and the production does nothing to mitigate that fact.

The lyrics are a little awkward when matched with the melody, and parts of the second chorus and bridge feel like they were duct-taped and nailed into the rhythm, as if there were some sort of danger that they’d keep popping back out. “They just won’t fit!” someone yells, and Gaga replies: “Oh, we’ll make them fit, alright!” (Prime example: “Bullied or teased” does not flow well at all.) The second verse is even odder and feels like a stream-of-consciousness ramble, with no one phrase having any logical connection to the next. Lyrics like “whether you love him or capital H.I.M.” are weird in all the wrong ways: I suppose she means “whether you’re gay or religious,” but it’s awfully contrived. Surely one of the greatest songwriters in the industry could have come up with phrasing that was a bit better than that.

Who allowed her to release this? Which record company executives gave this song the green-light? Is this some grand conspiracy by the Haus of Record Executives to create a backlash, humble her, and make her easier to work with? Because, in releasing this blatant ripoff of a song, it’s clear that she thinks that she’s an invincible goddess who can create a smash simply by her namesake. But it’s exactly as self-indulgent, contrived, generic, and ego-tripping as I had been anticipating for weeks. This is it? This is what she’s been dying to let us hear? This is — her worst single to date.

The world finally awakened to Kanye West’s narcissism when he rushed the stage to steal the mic from Taylor Swift. The world should now finally awaken to the fact that Lady Gaga has been blatantly thieving from her superiors and is in desperate need of being taken down a few notches.

Mark my words: sometime in March, we receive word that “Born This Way” was just a “buzz single” and that a RedOne track about approaching boys in a club will be released as the album’s main single. Call it a hunch.

2.5/5