By Beth Cleary
Lady Gaga is no stranger to controversy, but even the 25 year old pop sensation from New York may be surprised at her latest source of controversy. It’s over the “Just Dance” singer’s first single and title track to her second album, “Born This Way.” The song, written by Lady Gaga, Jeppe Laursen, Paul Blair and Fernando Garibay, is meant to be an anthem for people to be proud of themselves whether they are “black, white, beige, Chola, Lebanese, orient, gay, straight, bi or transgendered.” However, some in the LGBT have issues with the song.
On one front, some feel the song is a ripoff of a song with the same title by Carl Bean with others feeling it is a ripoff of Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” Others have compared the first single from Lady Gaga’s new album, released May 23rd, to Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” a song with a similar message. Some in the LGBT community feel the song doesn’t go far enough with its statements of tolerance and human rights for all. While some believe the song simply glosses over issues in favor of turning out a catchy pop tune.
The LGBT community isn’t the only group taking offense to the song debuted briefly during the MTV Video Music Awards last year when Lady Gaga sang the chorus while accepting her Video of the Year award. The Latino and Asian community have voiced objections to the words “chola” and “orient,” feeling their negative connotations take away any positive impact the song may have. Lady Gaga herself has called it “one of the greatest songs of all time.” Yet, the ensuing controversy has led some to wonder if it is all just a well calculated publicity stunt to drum up interest in the album.
Not everyone in the LGBT community has taken offense with the song. Elton John has called it the “new gay anthem” with others saying the singer’s words could have been better selected, but the overall message is good. The “Bad Romance” singer isn’t shying away from other controversial issues on her new album. Follow up single “Judas” has sparked controversy among some religious groups. The album also takes on issues of freedom and identify.
Lady Gaga has discussed the song in several issues of her web video series, Transmission Gagavision, saying that she wants to empower people with the song’s positive message of self-identify. Some might argue that it is hard to please everybody and Lady Gaga may have overreached some in her efforts to include everybody in her latest pop opus. However, Lady Gaga has been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and some doubt she would offend fans in that community on purpose.
Critics have generally praised the intended message of the song, with Annie Yuan of The Hollywood Reporter echoing common complaints that the song is “a hodge-podge of other pop tunes” and lacks originality. Regardless of issues some fans may have with the song, the majority of fans seem to be able to put any personal issues with the song aside. “Born This Way” has been blaring from home speakers and car stereos for weeks. So far, it has spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and set a record for most downloaded song by a female artist.