Album Review: Is Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ as Interesting as Her Outfits?

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REUTERS/Yves Herman

Pop music is like junk food. It’s not very substantive, but when you’re in the right mood, there’s absolutely nothing more appetizing.

Over the past three years, Lady Gaga’s combination of costumes, performance art and claw-heavy dance moves (not to mention her tendency to play classical piano while wearing a leather bikini) have helped her become the biggest pop act around.  Katy Perry may be cuter and Beyoncé may be a better dancer, but Gaga is by far the most entertaining. She writes her own music. She sings instead of lip-syncs. And it’s refreshing to see a female pop star willing to forgo candy-colored outfits and songs about wanting a ring on her finger in favor of chains, spikes and creepy nun outfits that make her sexually unappealing. Gaga is more bomb than a bombshell. We like her that way.

(PHOTOS: Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters)

But Lady Gaga does have one weakness: the studio album. She is a talented singer and her 2009 Cherrytree Sessions EP features an incredibly moving acoustic version of “Poker Face” that should shut up any music snobs who think she’s all show. But her full albums have always fallen a little flat.  On her third album, Born This Way, she relies too heavily on synthesizers and vocal effects, which smooth out all her rough edges until she sounds like a Eurodance version of Madonna (“Scheiße”), Sister Sledge (“Born This Way”) or early Whitney Houston (“Fashion of His Love”).

Take her single “Judas,” for example. It’s a bubblegum dance-pop love ballad about Judas Iscariot, with campy lyrics such as “I’m just a Holy Fool, oh baby, it’s so cruel.” Gaga delivers an amusing twist on all those “ooh, baby love” pop songs, but the religious imagery is too familiar (cough-Madonna-Marilyn-Manson-Nirvana-Kanye-West-cough) so the song feels a little cliche. That’s a shame too, because the Judas-Jud-ah-ah-ahs” chorus is pretty fun to chant.

(PHOTOS: The World Goes Gaga)

The album’s stand-out tracks are the “Born This Way” anthem and “The Edge of Glory,” a power ballad that could lend itself easily to an inspirational movie montage. The country-ish “Yoü and I,” with its overt Springsteen references and Shania Twain feel would be much better stripped down. (What’s that? Gaga has already performed it that way live? Perfect.)

Dance music doesn’t have to change the world, of course. Born This Way has its merits and it will definitely make you want to move. I just wanted it to be so much more. When an artist drapes herself in raw meat, encases herself in a giant egg, wears prosthetic shoulder horns and clip-clops onto the The View in 12-inch platform hooves and bright red fingerclaws, I expect her music to sound as interesting as she looks.

Head here for more of Claire Suddath’s Music Monday columns.

144 comments
WereqIrefullname
WereqIrefullname

Tamest sex scene ever in GoT.  Get over it, people.   There was literally nothing to see there. 

ThePoliticsBabe
ThePoliticsBabe

Why people who haven't read the books are upset with the show runners:  They aren't calling it a rape, and the people upset are saying that if you force sex on someone unwilling, it is rape, regardless of whether or not they change their mind during the act.  


Why people who have read the books are upset (potential spoilers):


Jaime, by the end of book 5, is a sympathetic character.  He has redeemed himself.  NO ONE in ASOIAF is "good" or "bad."  One of the themes of the books is that everything is all subjective.  Even St. Ned Stark has had some of his decisions made to look hurtful when viewed from the perspective of someone else.  


Book fans have been willing to overlook changes (well, okay, most of us).  Amalgamating characters into one, adding a scene for exposition, etc. etc.  But this is about a major character's story arc becoming changed dramatically.  From the moment that Jaime confesses to Brienne, he is on the road to redemption with the readers.  He becomes less hot headed, wiser, and an arm of justice.  


He had to lose his hand to gain that redemption with the readers.  Yes, he pushed Bran out of a window.  And he lost the hand that did that.  He spent four books paying the price for that.  Just as Bran can't climb anymore, Jaime can't fight anymore.  They've both lost their innate abilities.  


But now, after that confession, the show has made him commit an evil.  We know that we are supposed to sympathize with Jaime down the road, and now we can't.  

TriciaLeb
TriciaLeb

In the books, it is clearly rape:


She kissed him. A light kiss, the merest brush of her lips on his, but he could feel her tremble as he slid his arms around her. “I am not whole without you.”

There was no tenderness in the kiss he returned to her, only hunger. Her mouth opened for his tongue. “No,” she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck, “not here. The septons…”

“The Others can take the septons.” He kissed her again, kissed her silent, kissed her until she moaned. Then he knocked the candles aside and lifted her up onto the Mother’s altar, pushing up her skirts and the silken shift beneath. She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk, the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of gods. He never heard her. He undid his breeches and climbed up and pushed her bare white legs apart. One hand slid up her thigh and underneath her smallclothes. When he tore them away, he saw that her moon’s blood was on her, but it made no difference.


So, when a woman says no and tries to beat you up, you're saying it's consensual? This is honestly the biggest problem I have had with all of these posts being outraged at the "change from the books." There was no change from the books, except for making it more obviously rape. No means no means NO.

mdlaxbro
mdlaxbro

And by the way, the director Alex Graves mentions how Cersei was kissing him passionately and also wrapped her legs around him at the end. And there's also a quick cut of Cersei pulling Jaime's pants down.


It's a non-issue if you notice these details of consent. Not to mention in the books, Cersei simply has sex with Jaime without pause. 

ArthurFern
ArthurFern

Rape was depicted and it was disturbing.  If you were not uncomfortable watching that scene I suggest you get some help.

RolandL
RolandL

@charmingkiddoWith all due respect, I strongly disagree with you.  The sentence "...a situation where the woman doesn't want it but gets into it after it started..." is very disturbing to me.  If the woman didn't want it then it should never have "gotten started".  There's really no grey area there.  If you are raping a woman and her body happens to respond to you, that doesn't mean that you're not still raping her.  Best way to get this point across is in the instances where men are raped by women (it does happen).  Often times a man cannot control his body and it responds despite the fact that he does not want to be engaging in the act with the woman. It's still rape.  He said no.  She ignored him and proceeded to engage in intercourse with him anyway.  Rape.  Period.  Why is it different for a woman?  If she said no then there should be no sex until she says "yes", not the horrible and mysoginistic attitude of "I can make her say yes".  That's just wrong.   Peace.


Kinjiru
Kinjiru

Yes, Game of Thrones fully and completely endorses rape. Just like it endorses murder or acts of valor. You know those cop shows? Yeah, they endorse all those things too. What is this world coming to when a TV show has to be more than a TV show? Get over it.

TimjustTim
TimjustTim

I have only seen the first episode and a half of this show. I think it is in season 4 now. By words, deeds or expressed attitudes the entire show (up to the first hour and a half at least) has simply been dripping with rape, sexual assault and sexual demeaning of women. It may be compellingly acted and artistically done, but it is hard to fathom anyone not noticing that it is basically a rape porno among these other things. That it shocks someone at such a late point is odd, but it is nice that there is some discussion of it. Game of Thrones is not particularly special in my view. It seems to me that we, as a society, generally love the fantasy of raping women and one sees this all over the entertainment realm. I personally find it very creepy, but not surprising.

EllS
EllS

Oh, finally people are starting to realize that Game of Thrones is not exactly kosher. I couldn't get past the chapter in the first book where the dwarf is forced to gang rape his wife, who is 14 or something like that.

The whole book is sick. May be such things were a norm in Middle Ages but we are not in Middle Ages anymore. Thank you very much.


IbcinguToo
IbcinguToo

YES!  This was a rape because Cersei said "NO"!!

ERBear
ERBear

".... otherwise we risk delegitimizing assault....."

You mean " otherwise we risk legitimizing assault."?

CommonSense97
CommonSense97

Wait a minute, so the other things that have happened in the show are okay? But for some reason this makes the news?!?  How about the underage marriage of Sansa Stark--who just began getting her menstrual cycle--to Tyrion, or perhaps the "selling" of Danaerys Targaryen to Khal Drogo, or the Red Wedding, or Lady Melisandra's demonic birthing...no, none of those are news worthy? 


Please, it's a TV show--with all the appropriate warnings for viewers. No one on the show condones incestual rape in the company of dead children. Please go troll somewhere else...



And for speculation/spoilers...I hope Cersei--a significant antagonist--gets a whole lot worse fate by the end of the series/books.

charmingkiddo
charmingkiddo

Non consensual sex CAN become consensual. I don't know why the author of this would make such a sweeping generalization.


I certainly don't condone it but I can see how two people who are a couple could be in a situation where the woman doesn't want it but gets into it after it started. A lot of women also have rape fantasies.


Is that wrong and messed up? Sure. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

JeanetteBarrett
JeanetteBarrett

To Eliana Dockterman:  Rape is a very serious crime and not one to be made light of.  And I believe that at whatever point a woman says no is the point at which the man should desist.  Having said that, this was no rape.   These are two actors portraying a scene that is, I would imagine, disturbing to many people, on many different levels.  And while I agree that the popularity of the show had garnered a large audience, in which there undoubtedly are many younger viewers, the rape scene was no more disturbing, I dare say, than Catelyn Stark's throat being sliced to the bone, or Ned Stark's beheading, or the very idea that these two "lovers" are brother and sister.  Further, I would add, that any children in the audience should absolutely be supervised by their parents in the watching of this TV series, since it contains much violence and adult content.


And for that reason, I think your article was superfluous.  I can't imagine there were many of us sitting around after the show discussing whether Cersei was actually raped or not.  It didn't matter, since it was fictional.  We do not condone the beheading of people in our society just as we don't condone the rape of individuals.  It goes without saying that we, in our ordinary lives, do not encounter such encounters and if they were that disturbing on our television sets, we could always just turn the channel.  And block the channel from our children if we felt strongly enough about this series and its depictions of sex, violence and darkness.

JeanetteBarrett
JeanetteBarrett

This is a television series based on a fictional book.  I've read all the books.  Some of the scenes were disturbing.  But I'm smart enough to realize that it was just fiction and didn't represent real people, it was supposed to evoke strong reactions, and NO ONE WAS ACTUALLY RAPED, PEOPLE!!


Rape is an ugly, ugly thing.  Rapists should be castrated and then publicly hung.  But rape is not a television series, and a television series is not rape, and we all need to calm down.  Why isn't anyone screaming about the incest?  That's nasty too.

warmweatheronly
warmweatheronly

Murder, eh... it happens. Incest, eh... just a personality quirk! Family genocide, what an unexpected, exciting, shocking, plot twist! Rape... OH NO YOU DIDN'T!!! If killing someone isn't worse than rape to you then you have a skewed moral scale, and if FICTION really grinds your gears, then please, stop watching Game Of Thrones.

JeffGaillard
JeffGaillard

I thought Jaime's "I don't care" was in response to Cersei saying its wrong not to her saying no. Also, as the scene moved along it appeared to me that she wanted it but felt it was wrong. I did not have the feeling that I was witness to a rape.

RyanTexan
RyanTexan

Unless the character herself says it was rape, then it wasn't rape - and that's even if we accept the idea that a crime can be so subjective.

The idea that there is not gray area in date rape (excluding violence or threatened violence) is far from reality.

There's plenty of gray area.

It's why it's so hard to prosecute.

It's why the "victims" sometimes are not even sure if they were raped or not.

In our legal system, getting beyond a reasonable doubt is very difficult when something is "sorta" consensual.

When two people put themselves in a situation where there is no outside evidence, and everything is based on he said she said - if that isn't a gray area, it's right next door to a gray area.

I'm just telling you the truth.

You may not want to hear it - but it's reality.

You want to be safe?

Don't put yourself in that situation.

I'm all for punishment - and serious punishment - for crimes.

But we have to be sure before we can dispense the punishment.

You can say I'm blaming the victim.

OK.

But when the prosecutor tells you there is no case - that they can't convict - are they blaming the victim too?

Or just dispensing reality?

There are parts of town you don't go into at 2am.

So it's reasonable to ask: are there bedrooms you shouldn't enter at 2am if you are so opposed to the possibilities of what might happen?

Be safe people. Be clear with those around you. And don't trust those who haven't earned your trust. Heck, get to know your partners!



yannipanos
yannipanos

She wasn't saying no to sex, she was saying no to sex next to her dead son! These two people were already in a sexual relationship

it3fergie
it3fergie

@Eliana you are an idiot. Have you even read the books?  He basically rapes her in the First episode too where she tells him no quite a few times, but then gets into it before Bran catches them...And yah all these other scenes are in the shows and books and you're crying about this. Its fiction. No one Says its Right or Wrong. Look at Last House on the Left?

kinda-yeah
kinda-yeah

yeah. I see where this can be a distraction from the urinating in front of everyone, orgies with same sex tonguing each other, arm-kabobs on the rotisserie, beheadings, and other gratuitous non-contributing to the story violence..

sammy99999
sammy99999

It's fiction, they're actors. And oh yeah, she was asking for it.

AJPerko
AJPerko

For 4 seasons death, murder, sometimes of innocent children has been portrayed- and that is acceptable.   But the forced sex of the incestous, evil sister with her brother/lover crosses a line?

ARE YOU SERIOUS?   HOW SELF RIGHTEOUS ARE YOU TO EVEN HAVE THIS DISCUSSION?   People have some wacked morals.   Get over yourself, who cares if it was rape... still not as bad as murder.


Weave77
Weave77

"Though Martin never explicitly calls the scene rape, he does express regret that the way it was presented on screen has upset people, which is a step in the right direction."


Let me get this straight... this show, which REGULARLY depicts gratuitous murder and torture, including (but definitely not limited to) the slaughter of children, the murder of a pregnant woman by stabbing her repeatedly in the belly, children committing murder, people being burned alive, a man being physically and mentally tortured for days (including his penis being cut off), and more beheadings and throat cuttings than you can shake a stick at, has upset people because of a depiction of rape??


I won't even get into the matter of explaining to you how not all rape is created equal (I'm sure there is a big difference between your lover of many years forcing himself on you when you're not really in the mood compared to being the spoils of war for a Dothraki hord). What I will say, however, is that if someone happens to watch and enjoy this show and is offended by this scene, then they need some help. There is much worse that occurs in this show than rape (yes, torture and murder rank higher on the scale of moral depravity than rape) and it is not a surprise, for that matter. People who watch know that unsavory things have the potential to happen at any time- which is part of the suspense.


As to this being a blight upon the show or the character of Jamie Lanaster... it's not. One of the main reasons the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire is so great is that it exists in a realistic world filled not with black and white, but grey. The "good guys" are capable of being cruel and the "bad guys" are capable of being sympathetic... just like the real world. Every person has within them the potential for both good and bad, and sometimes they accomplish both. I find it somewhat refreshing that after attempting to murder an innocent child to cover-up an incestuous relationship with his sister and brutally murdering his relative and former squire in a bid for freedom, that Jamie hasn't suddenly become perfectly moral. He is not good, but nor is he evil. He is simply complex... as is this show. 


So, in conclusion, if you want to watch a show where the people you root for can kill people without qualm but will never force themselves upon a woman, go do it. There are plenty of them out there. The rest of us will be here watching an excellent show that, while fantasy, contains more reality than most reality tv shows ever will.

getrockin1
getrockin1

This article is a joke, and the writer obviously didn't watch and LISTEN to the show. It was NOT rape. She was saying, "no, NOT HERE" She consented to sex, but didn't want to do it next to the dead king. Jaime said "I don't care"..meaning, he didn't care about the location of where they were having sex.  

mikedavismjd
mikedavismjd

Last time I checked we have this thing called the 1st Amendment and that includes tv shows and those that produce them. What saddens me is not when tv shows show something that would be illegal in our country but when these politically correct people come out of the woodwork and think they can decide for the rest of us what is acceptable to watch and what our moral compasses should be. Your right is to not watch the show...It is not your right to tell the rest of us what is unacceptable or too far(whatever that means, this is as med evil show...Newsflash this stuff happened.) Go back in your holes you PC wackos. 

IMFSM
IMFSM

I'm not offended by seeing rape on a TV show. I greatly enjoy Game of Throwns - I love the way there are so many gray areas between good guys and bad guys, between good and evil. 


This was, quite obviously, rape. Not the first scene of rape on GOT, nor the last. Part of the book, part of the plot, and everyone (at this point) should be used to all levels of brutality on that show.


What I am offended by is the producer trying to convince us that it wasn't.

rguest85
rguest85

I find it really sad to see the comments of the men in this section, it makes me sad to think of the types of men my daughters will have to one day choose their husbands from. According to them, if a small amount of reported rape is a false accusation, I guess it means we should disregard all rape claims. 


Also a lot of people are really missing the point of this article. Yes it's a despicable act in a twisted TV show. The point is not that it happened, the point is that it is not being acknowledged as one.

tigerblood
tigerblood

There's no need to hedge words....the time period being "referenced" was brutal, rape was common (unfortunately). It is on HBO to review beforehand with the writers what will be shown and what won't be. A rape where a woman relaxes her body a bit to avoid being torn to shreds is still a rape.

VermIncelli
VermIncelli

Christ, it's a damn TV show about a fantasyland with dragons and zombies and crap. Lighten up or turn the damn channel.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@TimjustTim Funny, considering the first episode and a half contained no rape.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@EllS You have never read the books, stop lying and trolling. The first chapter contains no such thing.

DaveGarofolo
DaveGarofolo

@CommonSense97  someone got on their high horse and felt the need to speak out and appear important.  how any self-respecting magazine could allow one of their journalists to write and then publish an article on something so petty is beyond me.  sad, really

merinsun
merinsun

@CommonSense97 Yeah, the first sex scene between Danaerys and Drogo, as portrayed in the show and not the book, was definitely rape. The scene between Jaime and Cersei, as portrayed in the book, was definitely not rape. Haven't seen the show yet but it doesn't surprise me that they made it more edgy. Given what I feel I know about the characters, I don't think either one would feel or describe it as rape. They're a rough and twisted couple.

Also, where is the outrage about Littlefinger arranging for the death of a hooker for Joffrey's sexual pleasure (or non-sexual? That kid was a total freak)?

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@charmingkiddo Anyone who has been in a long term relationship realizes this. Plenty of women start off saying no, they dont want to have sex, and then with enough effort and coaxing they say yes.

IMFSM
IMFSM

@getrockin1  "Not here" = "No" = Rape. Remind me never to let you date my daughter.


ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@IMFSM Its your opinion that it was rape. Its mine that it wasnt.

rguest85
rguest85

@IMFSM  Thank you for reading the article and understanding the point that was made.

AJPerko
AJPerko

@rguest85  Waaaaaaa!! someone got raped.   oh that is so much more terrible than the slaughter of a whole village just a few scenes earlier?   Get over yourself.

VermIncelli
VermIncelli

@rguest85

It makes me sad to see the comments from both men and women in this section. NO one complains about all the other rapes in the series or the torture/rape/castration of Theon. It's a damn TV show that's why. What is wrong with all of you people? 

TimjustTim
TimjustTim

@ShawnLa @TimjustTim It is hard for me to understand how you could think that. I didn't watch the episode zero. I was counting 1 and the first half of 2. After watching these I was intrigued by the idea that the rape/rape culture aspects of the show would come up so late. (Nothing I have heard leads me to believe that the show grows suddenly very tame after the first two episodes.) So I read the article and many of the comments. Some folks are certainly "trolls" looking to elicit some outrage of course. Many of the comments are kind of saddening to me, but again not surprising. I don't really care about the show or the fictional people in it. I m intrigued by the real people watching it and the real emotions and thoughts that they have around it. Yes the show is about a lot of things and not JUST a rape porno, but that aspect of the show is pretty up front and obvious so why not point it out? Rape in the real world is a weird crime in that it is one of the very few crimes with a victim that the victim has to prove that they didn't want to be victimized. Imagine I stole your car and you were questioned about where you left the keys, if your car was just too flashy for me to resist stealing, and so on. That would be very weird. That is the norm with rape. If we are not talking about different scenes then your comments are particularly sad. We have a ways to go it would seem and Game of Thrones is not to far of the modern as we would like to believe.

EllS
EllS

@ShawnLa @EllS  I am not trolling. Don't think by insulting me you can make me go away.

Unlike you I actually tried reading the book.

First there was incest and practically murder of a young boy, in the chapter 3 or so.

Then a couple chapters down there was this story of the dwarf.

And everything in between was full of sexual innuendo, violence, murder, betrayal. It was filth, pretty much all the way from chapter 2.

JohnSteel
JohnSteel

@IMFSM @getrockin1  I bet she's ugly as f*ck.

rguest85
rguest85

@VermIncelli @rguest85  Like I said above (not sure why it posted in the mid). It's not that rape happened. Please read the article again. The author is making a point about how it is aknowledged by the authors as a "non rape". Please don't just read headlines and fly through to the comments to rage.

DaveGarofolo
DaveGarofolo

@EllS @ShawnLa  if you have a problem reading fictional depictions of things like that, that do actually happen in the real world, then why the hell are you reading or watching Thrones in the first place?  you are everything that's wrong with this situation. go away.