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Lady Gaga: Born This Way 

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For the world’s biggest pop star, the lead-up to her second full-length release has been less than glamorous: the drug abuse allegations, the Madonna rip-off criticisms, that cover art. Now the full album has arrived, and it is every bit as grandiose, ridiculous, erratic, and often brilliant as its maker. Gaga throws in everything here: teenage angst anthems, German techno, power ballads, and even a track about unicorns. For the most part, the results are bizarre, particularly on the clumsy “Government Hooker” and the outright embarrassing “Heavy Metal Lover.” What saves the album from being a total shit-show is that no matter how cheesy the production (the Ace of Base-style synth lines, the reoccurring “sexy” sax) or silly the lyrics (“I’m gonna drink my tears and cry”), Gaga is simply too melodically gifted not to throw at least a few earworms in each track. Some, like the spectacularly Euro-trash “Marry the Night,” the effortlessly catchy title-track, and the anthemic “Edge of Glory” stand up with the best of her hits. The rest, if nothing else, prove Gaga’s right to the title of reigning queen of pop, even if Born This Way will no doubt put a few dents in her crown.

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