As you'll likely hear plenty of grumbling about, "Born This Way" bears uncanny similarities to Madonna's "Express Yourself" (whose video informed battling ram of taboos that was Christina Aguilera's video for "Not Myself Tonight"), and is a member of the same lyrical sorority of "We R Who We R," "Raise Your Glass," and so forth. How deliciously Gaga continues to combine today's content with 1980s sounds (or more specifically, in several cases, that would be Gaga writing with Madonna's music), as she did on her smash debut. "Born This Way" sounds instantly inevitable, blending the electronic production that defined The Fame and The Fame Monster - and much of the rest of pop music since 2009 - with a certain Elton John-esque pop rock structure and energy that is said to permeate the namesake album, due out in May.
And although there seems some mixed reaction in the clubs (so I was told by clubgoers in LA) and the occasional blogger, the general consensus seems to be positive at least. But of course it's good; that was hardly the top question when building the song's hype. Whether greatness is to come on what the 24-year-old singer loftily promised fans would be "the greatest album of this decade" is the more intriguing and less predictable curiosity, and while "Born This Way" isn't a monumental pop culture event in its own right, the way "Bad Romance" (and its video) was, that probably isn't the role Gaga had plotted for it.
My hunch is that "Born This Way," a piano version of which Gaga has performed publicly and which has been sat on for as long as a year while the album was constructed around it, is the musical and topical foundation for the album, the remaining sound and theme of which grows from its roots. Gaga's both getting us warmed up, re-familiarizing the scene with her sound (hard to believe it but Gaga's last Hot 100 charting week was back in September 2010) and introducing the new album as an appetizer. "Born This Way" will be a hit, perhaps even a #1 hit, but if there's a game-changing monster hit on Born This Way, Gaga's saving it for a later course.