Lady Gaga, ‘Born This Way’

Born This Way

The litmus test of any new pop record is the opinion of a little girl who already loves the artist unreservedly and will brook no criticism.

So, into this treacherous arena went ‘Born This Way’, and first we gauged recognition: “Is it Lady Gaga?” One hurdle cleared. Further responses to Stefani’s hi-NRG dambuster included bouncing up and down from Junior (five-and-a-half), Junior 2 (two-and-eleven-twelfths) and Junior 3 (a week shy of one) – confirming Gaga’s all-ages appeal – and an unprompted round of applause at the finish.

Then the question we’ve all avoided. Yes, determined to mark ‘Born This Way’’s place in the Gaga pantheon, I asked which was better, this or ‘Bad Romance’.


All that without mentioning ‘Express Yourself’. Unjaded by the past, unworried that all the pop tunes might have been done and everything’s now just a swish rejig, Junior doesn’t hear Madonna in this. Nor does she catch a whisper of ‘Rio’, or Jesus Jones’s ‘International Bright Young Thing’ or even Maxine Nightingale’s ‘Right Back Where We Started From’.

Come to that, she didn’t spot a Joe Satriani noodle recast in ‘Viva La Vida’, nor a short refrain from an 18-minute Cat Stevens song in the same. Because no one really knew them and they weren’t really there.

And she doesn’t fret that Lady Gaga’s courting of the gay audience might be a hard-nosed ploy. Perhaps she knows Gaga’s got plenty of ground there anyway, or perhaps she knows Gaga’s still got some way to go and it’s all fair game. After all, my brother still belongs to Kylie.

Whatever could go through Junior’s head, she takes ‘Born This Way’ on its own immediate terms; a fiery, anthemic, infectious jolt. Let’s all do that.

[3] Ten City, ‘That’s The Way Love Is’

Ten City

I could juggle the Top Three all day and still be unsure. This is the best euphoric house record ever, No.2 is a beast and No.1 the defining record of the year. Whatever that means.

Byron Stingily (WHAT a name) and the other shoulder-padded chaps deliver a beautiful happy sad song, that tells us everything might get messed up but it’s no big deal, don’t get hung up, it happens to everyone, now let’s get lost in the sweeping strings and thumping piano and skyscraping vocals and floor-eating beat. Nothing more convincing.

The message probably doesn’t reach Junior, who thinks everything is pretty much spot-on anyway, but the jumping tune kickstarts her limbs. She grooves, Dad irons. See? Oblivious to life’s hardships.

Before we get to the big two, a shout out to a few records I was troubled to see miss out on the 20:

NWA, ‘Express Yourself’
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, ‘What I Am’
Digital Underground, ‘Doowutchyalike’
Roy Orbison, ‘She’s A Mystery To Me’
Black Box, Starlight, all that Italo House fun

Tough decisions for a 17-year-old.