Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lady Gaga: Born This Way [Streamline/Interscope/KonLive, 2011]
First of all, avoid the "Special Edition." Of the three extra songs, only "The Queen" would be a decent B side, and the remixes are as unnecessary as usual. Even at normal length, moreover, this isn't up to The Fame or The Fame Monster. But both of those keep growing, and with its mad momentum and nutty thematics, this one could too--despite being laid down on tour trailed by 28 semis. Ever the non-Catholic, I let "Judas" and "Bloody Mary" slide while going all googly-eared for the hilarious "Hair," where the nimbus of every woman's vanity becomes the cutting edge of every woman's freedom, and "Americano," a marriage proposal to a Chicana in a flowered skirt that's as sincere and unreliable as The Fame Monster's "Alejandro," where the title inamorato keeps morphing into Fernando and Roberto. This lags seriously only on the one with unicorns in it, a no-no not even Gaga can safely defy, and a big closer that just doesn't take the whole effort over the top where it belongs. The country song in particular is a hoot, which reminds me that the title track wasn't inspired solely by "Express Yourself." Close your eyes on the refrain and you can almost hear Carl Perkins lining out "You've got the right string baby but the wrong yo-yo." A-