Music Review: Lady Gaga’s Born This Way

Regardless of the varying personal opinions concerning Lady Gaga, one thing is certain: Lady Gaga is taking over the world. This past weekend, Gaga – or as her adoring fans have deemed her, Mother Monster – took to the Circus Maximus stage during Rome Pride Saturday night to advocate for gay rights.

“I am a child of diversity,” Gaga told the crowd. In September, Gaga campaigned for the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal in Portland, Maine, directly appealing to Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Maine’s moderate-leaning Republican Senators.

“Devoted” is an understatement for her legion of fans, lovingly referred to as “Little Monsters” by Mother Monster herself. One doesn’t need to attend one of notoriously her sold-out concerts to understand her impact. Her latest album Born This Way sold over one million copies in its first week of release alone.

But Gaga isn’t only a powerhouse of hits and brilliant show-womanship. Her albums are meticulously written, produced, and above all else, soundly thematic. Her 2009 debut The Fame explored the obsession and love affair with fame in America, and her follow-up EP The Fame Monster descended from the glitter and into the gutter, exposing the hangover of excess and notoriety. Born This Way moves Gaga past meditations on fame and brushes against the sharp edges of religion. “It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M,” begins the title single, “Just put your paws up, ‘cause you were born this way, baby.”

Gaga is admittedly Catholic, citing her faith as an important inspiration in her life. The number of biblical allusions on Born This Way total in the dozens (more if you include refrains). That’s a lot of God talk for a woman condemned by the likes of Fred Phelps, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, and the Lebanese government, which banned the country-wide release of “Born This Way” on account of the single, “Judas.” Because for all the talk of Mary, Judas, and Jesus, there is no ballad of Noah’s Ark, no rejoicing of creation, no Ten Commandment recital, and no holy pulpit of judgment.

“The influence of institutionalized religion on government is vast,” she told the UK’s Guardian. “So religion then begins to affect social values and that in turn affects self-esteem, bullying in school, teen suicides, all those things.”

Born This Way doesn’t challenge the existence of religion, but the stodgy and discriminatory dogma surrounding it. She explores the Bible’s most compelling elements—humans being human, confronting the light and the dark, the push and the pull, and ultimately arriving at a place of love: love of self, love of art, love of creation, love of each other.

Gaga’s work doesn’t need to be analyzed to be fiercely adored. The singles alone shine and inspire, and are strengthening a precarious generation with the foundation of self-acceptance. Gay? Straight? Religious? Agnostic? Fabulous? Outcasted? No matter. Mother Monster may believe in God, but more importantly, she believes in you.

“Don’t be insecure if your heart is pure,” she sings as the album progresses. “You’re still good to me if you’re a bad kid, baby.”

If only more religious organizations could take a cue from Gaga, empowering the public with the divinity of diversity, instead of enslaving it with the rhetoric of hate.