Lady Gaga has just debuted her new single at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Her first all-new material for well over a year, Born This Way has been trailed by a mountain of hype and conjecture. This is par for the contemporary celebrity course. What is not, though, is the nature of the song, which is nothing less than a contemporary LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) call-to-arms.
Elton John has recently called Born This Way “the anthem that’s going to obliterate I Will Survive” — a laudable ambition indeed for anyone who’s sick of that Gloria Gaynor warhorse. Gaga herself has been more circumspect: “It has been in my heart for over a year,” she recently tweeted, but otherwise has, sensibly, fought shy of making any grand claims.
Born This Way begins as it means to go on, with Gaga intoning over swelling synths: “It doesn’t matter if you love him or capital H-I-M/ Just put your paws up/ Cause you were born this way, baby.”
The lyrics are ballsy enough to run the risk of offending the many and vociferous religious groups: ‘’I’m beautiful in my way/ Cause God makes no mistakes/ I’m on the right track, baby/ I was born this way.” It also makes some sharp points about the self-hatred that many gay people and outcasts of all kinds share: “Don’t hide yourself in regret/ Just love yourself and you’re set.”
Born This Way is not, of course, a self-improvement tract but a pop record, from a performer at the top of her game. Lady Gaga is the quintessential 2011 pop star: her records are a winning mixture of electro-pop with contemporary R&B touches, and her subject matter feeds into the media’s self-obsession on the nature of fame.
She has long included gay imagery in her videos as part of her armoury: Telephone included a make-out scene with Beyonce, while Steven Klein’s nine-minute epic for Alejandro fused homoerotic, horror and religious imagery.
Other gay anthems
Your disco needs you, by Kylie Minogue
I will survive, by Gloria Gaynor
Vogue, by Madonna
YMCA, by Village People
It’s Raining Men, by the Weather Girls
Physical, by Olivia Newton John
Dancing Queen, By ABBA
Believe, by Cher
I’m coming out, by Diana Ross
In the navy, by the Village People