Lady Gaga gives birth to one of the year’s most anticipated albums Born This Way. After breaking records with the empowering title track and stirring controversy with the biblical-minded “Judas,” the 25-year-old pop provocateur pushes musical boundaries with her ’80s-inspired opus, weaving in themes of religion, sexuality, and politics set to bombastic electro-pop beats. Her Little Monsters will undoubtedly eat it up, but did the critics? Find out below.
Rolling Stone: What makes Born This Way so disarmingly great is how warm and humane Gaga sounds. There isn’t a subtle moment on the album, but even at its nuttiest, the music is full of wide-awake emotional details. 4/5
USA Today: Gaga’s new tunes seem cooler and more calculated, sucking you in (or banging you over the head) with a barrage of bracing grooves that can grow numbing. There’s the pummeling electronica of “Judas,” the breathless Eurodisco of “Scheibe,” the winking, Latin-tinged dance-pop of “Americano.” 3.5/4
The Washington Post: Yes, Born This Way is a dark, dense, and surprisingly aggressive listen. But musically, it feels conservative and predictable. And at its worst, it sounds like reheated leftovers from some ’80s movie soundtrack. For an information-age superstar who’s managed to squeeze us all into a global group-hug, shouldn’t Gaga be delivering something a little more zeitgeisty?
Los Angeles Times: But after such an extensive rollout, a few clever lines and a choice hook, drum fill, vocal run isn’t nearly enough. If Gaga had only spent as much time on pushing musical boundaries as she has social ones, Born This Way would have been a lot more successful.
Chicago Tribune: As it is, Born This Way feels rushed—from the cheesy, photo-shopped cover art to the hyperventilating music. It is the sound of a major artist sprinting to please everyone all the time—and even a pop star as inclusive as Gaga can’t pull that off. 2.5/4
The Guardian: Enthrallingly, though, the album never lets up, as her producers chuck entire studios at her fulsome vocals. Many songs here are crafted from radically different tunes all stitched together for an attention-deficit generation: a song may start with an intro from one genre, segue into a verse from another, switchback into a surprise pre-chorus, follow that with a fist-pump major-chord chorus, before inserting a hard-edged clubby middle eight. 3/5
SPIN: Calibrating the crazy in her music is no easy task, but Gaga twists the right knobs on Born This Way, applying her ’80s pastiche to throbby grooves and sentimental tunes that’ll pierce the hearts of both Little Monsters and heartland moms. … Lady Gaga certainly wasn’t born this way, but she’s making a convincing case that she’s evolving into our most surreally brilliant pop star. 8/10
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Born This Way,” “Bad Kids,” “YoÃ¼ and I,” “The Edge of Glory”