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Music Review: Gaga delivers the goods on new CD

Music Review: Gaga delivers the goods on new CD

Lady Gaga, "Born This Way" (Interscope)

May 25th, 2011 by NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP Music Writer in News

With the Lady Gaga-market reaching oversaturation, it's easy to get a sense of fatigue when listening to her latest effort, "Born This Way."

Delivering her third studio album in just a 3-year span after a nonstop juggernaut that included a seemingly endless tour, hit after hit, countless magazine covers and even social activism, another Gaga offering is a little bit tiring to those who aren't part of her army of "little monsters."

It doesn't help that the standard edition of the album is 17 full-length tracks, clocking in at a little over two hours. A little less than a third of the way through, a "what - there's more?" feeling starts to sink in, and finishing the album seems to be a daunting task.

But "Born This Way" deserves that listen - again and again and again. Though there are a few songs that miss the mark - the Madonna-rip-off title track, for example - overall, the album, like Gaga, is hard to get out of your conscious.

"I could be girl/ unless you want to be man/ I could be sex/ unless you want to hold hands/ I could be anything/ I could be everything," coos Gaga on "Government Hooker," a wicked electro-groove that manages to be more naughty than Rihanna's "S&M" without being as explicit. It's just part of the provocation - both sexual and religious - that Gaga uses to push buttons throughout the album.

Though there are song titles like "Bloody Mary," "Judas" and "Electric Chapel," and lyrics tweak conservative mindsets, at its core, "Born This Way" is mostly an album about themes that have been written about from the beginning of pop music - love, lust and acceptance.

"Americano," with its flamenco-inspired melody, is a love song - it just happens to be about two women. "We can marry, on the West Coast, on a Wednesday," Gaga sings slyly. "Hair," like "Born This Way," is a plea for individual freedom via the follicles - "I don't want to change, I don't want to be ashamed, I'm the spirit of my hair ... I am my hair," she declares on the pop-rock groove, which sounds as if it could have emerged from the soundtrack to a 1980s teen flick.

Much of the music veers from pulsating dance grooves and the retro rock that Gaga showcased on "Fame Monster." The album's best track -"You and I" - sounds as if it could be the companion to "Speechless," another ballad similarly anchored by dominating piano chords.

Gaga, who co-wrote every tune on the record and again worked with collaborators such as RedOne and Fernando Garibay, doesn't show particular musical growth, but establishes a consistency of strong material throughout most of the disc. Lyrically, at times she still perplexes - the whirring "ScheiBe" starts off with German then segues into a female empowerment anthem - but it's those bizarre moments that are part of the Gaga-intrigue.

"Born This Way" needs a bit more editing. A smattering of tracks, like "Bad Kids" or "Black Jesus," could have been left off for a tighter disc. But it doesn't take away from its strength, and overall, it's an album that should add to Gaga's growing status as this generation's cultural icon.

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CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Most won't know what she's saying, and most won't care, on "ScheiBe" - the German (or is it gibberish?) that comes out of Gaga's mouth is still undeniably catchy.