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’.

“Both.”

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.

[10] Duran Duran, ‘Rio’

Junior stood at the coffee table, directly in front of the stereo, bobbing up and down. She fair resembled a Duranie from all those years ago, missing only the baggy trousers tucked into pixie boots, the hair sprayed outwards ‘til it was replacing the ozone layer let alone ripping through it, and the bulldozer-applied make-up. Give her five years.

This is the title track of the first album I owned, no half-shares with big sis, and it was the first song on the tape I took away to school, to play on one of those flat players with the speaker at the top. I had a single earpiece for private listening. Yes, I was at the vanguard of the hi-fi revolution.

What I’m saying is it’s a formative record for me. It’s why I wear a headband with my pastel suit, and blather interminable bullshit about cherry ice cream and how much birthdays and pretty views mean to me.

And it still has muscle and depth of sound, an odd contrast with the more cutting edge likes of Rockers Revenge. The cool dates faster than the naff.