“Born this Way” is not only the worst song of Lady Gaga’s career, it’s going to be the soundtrack for some of the worst parties in America for years to come.
Here’s how that’s gonna go:
OK, everybody thanks for showing up for the LGBT freshmen coalition party planning committee. There’s going to be a free screening of “Boys in the Band” in the common area, followed by a no judge, just hugs dialoguing session about creating a safe place on campus. Then we’re all going to talk about what we can do to fight AIDs. So let’s get this party started (“Born This Way” mournfully bleats out of an Apple laptop.)
The song sounds like it was written to be used in a parade. It’s big and brassy and obviously meant to be uplifting. So obviously it was doomed to fail.
Songs that people feel obligated to like are almost always terrible. Pop music is at its best when it’s morally suspect or just not about anything. When it has an agenda, people usually stop dancing.
“Born This Way” is like the “We Are the World” of gay rights, only it’s not a fundraiser (won’t someone please think of the starving gays the song could have helped? There’s a famine in Gaythiopia!) Only the thing is, gay people aren’t starving Africans. First of all, many are musicians, and are therefore fully capable of making their own “WATW.” Secondly, gays are doing OK. Or at least better than they ever have.
The lyrics are in pretty dire need of a second draft, starting with the opening line “My Mamma told me when I was young…” Let’s put aside how much of a cliché the phrase is, and instead focus on how it shows what a terrible spokesperson Gaga presents herself as for gay people. Really Gaga, is that what your encouraging, accepting mother told you? Did she mention anything about being ashamed of you for some all-consuming physical and emotional need that you can’t control? Or about how you have something wrong with you or anything?
And “don’t be a drag, be a queen”? Really, Gaga. If you spent half the time on your wordplay as you did picking out the right disco egg to hatch out of, we might have avoided this whole embarrassing mess. Same thing goes with the weird use of the career counselor-esque phrase “on the right track.”
And saying someone is “born that way” isn’t as strong an endorsement as Gags believes either. Sorry for being a dick, but people with Down syndrome, gingers and pedophiles were also “born that way.”
And honestly, there are a lot of serviceable gay rights anthems out there. They’re not as literal, which makes them easier to enjoy, and gay people actually chose them to be their anthems. Like “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, which, as Sean Combs correctly observed, is a fucking jam. Or “Got to be Real.” Or any other disco song ever, including the execrable “It’s Raining Men.”
Or, if you want to jump up to the ‘90s for a song for your gay parade, you could do lot worse, thematically and musically, than “Express Yourself” by Madonna.