Born This Way

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This article is about the album. For the album's title song, see Born This Way (song). For other uses, see Born This Way (disambiguation).
Born This Way
Grayscale image of a bike against a black background. The bike has a blond woman's head at its front, whose right hand stretches out to the front tires of the bike. The words "Born This Way" is embossed above the image.
Studio album by Lady Gaga
Released May 23, 2011 (2011-05-23)
Recorded 2010–11
Genre Dance-pop
Length 61:08
Label
Producer
Lady Gaga chronology
  • Born This Way
  • (2011)
Singles from Born This Way
  1. "Born This Way"
    Released: February 11, 2011
  2. "Judas"
    Released: April 15, 2011
  3. "The Edge of Glory"
    Released: May 9, 2011
  4. "You and I"
    Released: August 23, 2011
  5. "Marry the Night"
    Released: November 15, 2011

Born This Way is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga, released on May 23, 2011, by Interscope Records. The album is a follow-up to her internationally-successful albums The Fame (2008) and The Fame Monster (2009). As co-producer of every track on the album, Gaga collaborated with numerous producers, including RedOne and Fernando Garibay, with whom she had previously worked, and newcomers such as DJ Snake, DJ White Shadow, Jeppe Laursen, Robert John "Mutt" Lange and Clinton Sparks. She also included artists like E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons and Queen guitarist Brian May on tracks from the album.

The music of Born This Way stems from the synthpop and dance-pop oriented styles of her previous albums, yet it incorporates different forms of instrumentation which have not been used on her previous releases; electronic rock and techno are examples.[1] It also includes a broader range of various musical genres such as opera, heavy metal, disco, house and rock and roll while its lyrical topics include sexuality, religion, freedom, feminism, and individualism. Despite dividing opinion amongst some religious and conservative commentators, the album was well received by music critics; points of acclaim went to the varying musical styles in the album and Gaga's vocals. However, others felt Gaga was trying too hard to please everyone through the album's self-empowerment message. Several publications included the album in their year-end critic lists. Born This Way received three Grammy Award nominations, including Gaga's third consecutive nomination for Album of the Year.[2]

Born This Way debuted in the top five spots of every major market, including the Billboard 200. In the United States, Born This Way sold 1.108 million copies in its first week – the largest first-week album sales in five years; an estimated 440,000 copies were sold on Amazon in two days of its first week at a price of 99 cents. Four of the album's singles – "Born This Way", "Judas", "The Edge of Glory", and "You and I" – went on to chart in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 and "Born This Way" became the 1000th song to reach the number one spot since the inauguration of the chart in 1958.[3] The title track was also once the fastest-selling single in iTunes history,[4] and the promotional track "Hair" charted in sixteen countries. Gaga has performed songs from the album on different occasions, including at prominent award ceremonies like the 53rd Grammy Awards and the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, as well as in other events and television appearances. In November 2011, Born This Way and the remix album Born This Way: The Remix were packaged in the compilation album Born This Way: The Collection.

Background and recording

Abbey Road Studios, one of the studios where Gaga recorded the album.

In March 2010, Gaga disclosed that she was working on a new album, saying that she had written most of the songs for the proposed album.[5] Meanwhile, producer RedOne described it as Gaga's "freedom album"[6] as her manager, Troy Carter, felt her public image would begin to change after the release of Born This Way.[6] A few months after the announcement, Gaga exclaimed that she had finished writing songs for the album: "It came so quickly. I've been working on it for months, and I feel very strongly that it's finished right now. Some artists take years. I don't. I write music every day."[7] In another interview, she declared the album "the anthem of [this] generation," as she continued, "It includes the greatest music I've ever written. I've already written the first single for the new album and I promise you, that this album is the greatest of my career."[7][8]

Besides sessions on tour buses, recording sessions and mixing for the album took place at Abbey Road Studios in London, England, Studios 301 in Sydney, Australia, Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne, Australia, Gang Studios in Paris, France, Livingroom Studios in Oslo, Norway, Allerton Hill in the United Kingdom, Warehouse Productions Studio in Omaha, Nebraska, Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada, Officine Meccaniche in Milan, Italy, Miami Beach Recording Studio in Miami Beach, Florida, and Germano Studios in New York City.[9] Brian May, a guitarist of Queen, and Clarence Clemons, a former member of the E Street Band, worked with Gaga in the album.[10][11]

Writing and composition

Influences and themes

Major influences on Born This Way
In songs such as "Marry the Night" and "Fashion of His Love" Gaga seeks influence from Whitney Houston.
Bruce Springsteen has prominent influences on the album, notably in songs such as "Hair" and "The Edge of Glory".
Influences stemming from Madonna can be heard throughout the album, especially in songs such as "Born This Way" and "Scheiße".

In terms of musical composition, Born This Way is considered to be a notable departure from Gaga's previous works.[12] It incorporates a broader range of musical genres such as opera,[13] heavy metal,[14] rock and roll,[15] Europop,[16] electro-industrial,[17][18] disco,[19][20] and house in addition to featuring a wider variety of instrumentation and musical styles. For example, an organ can be heard as Gaga closes "Born This Way",[21] a Gregorian chant-inspired male vocal choir is a prominent feature in "Bloody Mary",[13] guitars and violins in "Americano",[22] and electric guitars in "Bad Kids".[22] The songs "Hair" and "The Edge of Glory" are distinguishable from the rest of the album, as a saxophone – performed by Clarence Clemons, a prominent member of the E Street Band – can be heard throughout.[11] In several interviews, Gaga expressed that she was mostly inspired by Madonna,[23] Whitney Houston,[14][23][24] and Bruce Springsteen[14][20][24][25] though other musical influence stems from Iron Maiden,[14] Kiss,[14] Queen,[10] TLC,[23] Pat Benatar,[26] and En Vogue.[23]

The album contains mainly moderate-tempo dance songs, described as "anthemic style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats."[27] In the months prior to the release of Born This Way, Gaga characterized her new music as "something so much deeper than a wig or lipstick or a fucking meat dress" and upon hearing it, Akon remarked that she will take music to the "next level."[28] The album includes references to several religious figures of Christianity, notably Judas Iscariot, Mary Magdalene, and Jesus of Nazareth.[29] Several songs on the album give reference to sexuality and feminism.[13][16] Other themes referenced in the album include individualism, equality, and freedom.[30]

Music and lyrical content

"It's like Whitney, but imagine if Bruce Springsteen had a baby with Whitney Houston – that's what it is", she said. "And that was it! We made a baby. Finally. After all that fornication, miserably long and tedious, Fernando and I finally conceived."

—Lady Gaga, on "Marry the Night"[24]

The album opens with "Marry the Night", a song written as a homage to New York City.[31] It is a dance-pop record which contains church bells,[32] a thumping four on the floor house beat,[33] a funk rock-influenced breakdown,[34] and has been noted to contain elements of disco, techno, funk and Hi-NRG music.[16][35][36] The song's sound has been compared to that of 1980s hair metal artists, including Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar and Bonnie Tyler.[34] The next, "Born This Way" is about how everybody is equal, regardless of skin color, sexuality, or creed, and that every person can fulfill his or her dream. Compared to Madonna's "Express Yourself", the song features Euro disco beats.[37] The third track of the album, "Government Hooker", contains elements of opera music,[13] and a dance melody resembling genres such as techno, trance, industrial and post-disco,[19][20][38][39] as well as a hip hop-influenced beat.[39] The song has been compared to the work of German electronic band Kraftwerk.[38]

The fourth song is "Judas", which Gaga confirmed to be influenced by the Biblical Judas Iscariot. The song's lyrics are about being betrayed as well as "honoring your darkness in order to bring yourself into the light," according to Gaga.[40] The song is a dance-pop and house track, with influences of techno, industrial and disco,[41][42][43][44] a 1980s-inspired pop chorus,[45] as well as a breakdown containing elements of dubstep and techno music.[12] In parts of the song, Gaga sing-raps with a Caribbean Patois accent.[45]

Gaga performing "Americano" on The Born This Way Ball Tour. The song was written in response to Arizona SB 1070.

The album's fifth track is "Americano", a mariachi[19] song with techno, house and disco influences.[20] Written in Spanish and English, Gaga composed "Americano" in response to the Arizona immigration law Arizona SB 1070. Critics have noted vaudevillian elements within the song,[46] and it has been compared to the work of Judy Garland,[47] with Gaga claiming that she sees influence from French chanson singer Édith Piaf.[48] The sixth track, "Hair" is a song about expressing freedom through one's hair. The song has a dance-pop melody, yet it has influences from rock/heavy metal music artists like Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden and Kiss.[14] It has also been noted to incorporate disco[43] and Europop.[49] The seventh track, "Scheiße" contains German lyrics and has a message of feminism,[16] accompanied by a heavy synths, techno beats, as well as Euro disco influences.[13][20] The song's melody has drawn comparisons to Madonna and electroclash artist Miss Kittin.[50] After "Scheiße" is "Bloody Mary", which is a relatively slow-tempo[20] song containing "plucked strings" and "filthy beats",[50] as well as numerous religious references, and a trance-influenced melody.[13] "Bad Kids" contains 1980s synthpop influences and electric guitars.[19] Its disco beat has been compared to that of Donna Summer,[19] and influences of heavy metal music have been found within its composition.[42]

"Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" is Born This Way's tenth track. A dance-pop, it has been noted to have Bruce Springsteen influences, as well as powerful drums and synths.[20] "Heavy Metal Lover", the eleventh track, is a song of electropop and techno tendencies,[16][51] which has been noted to contain elements of house music,[52] electro-industrial beats,[53] and has been compared to the power pop of the 1990s.[49] Synthesizers are used as a focal point for the song.[20] Following "Heavy Metal Lover" is "Electric Chapel", a heavy metal-influenced pop song noted to contain elements of Europop[49] that has been compared to the work of Madonna.[16][19] The album's thirteenth track, "You and I", is a rock and roll ballad which contains elements of country rock music.[54] The song contains a moderato tempo,[15] and Queen guitarist Brian May is also featured on the track.[10] The track, furthermore, samples Queen's 1977 single "We Will Rock You".[10]

The fourteenth track is "The Edge of Glory", which refers to the death of Gaga's grandfather.[55] It is an upbeat song of dance-pop, electronic rock and synthpop tendencies; it also contains a saxophone solo by Clarence Clemons which has drawn comparisons to blues music.[56] One of the bonus tracks is "Black Jesus + Amen Fashion", a pop song which draws influences from 1980s and 1990s electronic and club music.[57] including Broadway. "Fashion of His Love", the second bonus track, is a 1980s-influenced dance-pop song that contains references to the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.[58]

Release and promotion

On September 12, 2010, Gaga made an appearance on the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. During the acceptance speech for her Video of the Year award, Gaga announced the title of the album and sang the chorus of the its title track.[59] Described by Gaga as "a Christmas gift for my fans",[60] Gaga announced the release dates of the album and its lead single at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2011 via Twitter,[61] supplementing it with a black-and-white photograph in which Gaga is "nude from the waist down, with her hair blowing about, and sporting a jacket with the name of the album emblazoned in what looks like bedazzled jewels."[61]

At a November 2010 show of The Monster Ball Tour in Gdansk, Poland, Gaga announced that the album could have up to twenty tracks,[62] adding that production for the album was coming to a close.[63] In an interview with Vogue in February 2011, Gaga confirmed that there would be a total of seventeen tracks on the album, of which fourteen would make the final cut to the standard edition.[64] The other three songs were initially to be released on an exclusive deluxe edition of the album at Target; however, Gaga later ended her partnership with Target in response to the company's donation of US$150,000 to the conservative political group Minnesota Forward.[65]

Prior to the release of Born This Way, the contents of the album were leaked online on May 18, 2011.[66] Due to a violation of copyright law, it was later removed.[66] The album was formally released worldwide on May 23, 2011, in two separate editions.[61][67] Several non-singles songs were previewed as part of promoting Born This Way. Remixes of "Scheiße" and "Government Hooker" were previewed at fashion shows presented by Thierry Mugler in January and March 2011, respectively.[68][69] Several songs were released on FarmVille during the next few days prior to the album's release, including "Marry the Night",[36] "Americano",[70] and "Electric Chapel".[71]

Gaga performing "The Edge of Glory" on Good Morning America. Initially released as a promotional single, it went on to become the third single off the album due to positive commercial feedback.

On April 17, 2011, Gaga tweeted her selection for the cover art of Born This Way, which featured Gaga fused into a motorcycle. Gaga's name does not appear on the album cover – the only text is the chrome writing across the top reading the album's name.[72] The cover received a negative response from some critics and fans. Sean Michaels of The Guardian expressed that the cover "[looked] more like a cheap Photoshop job than the most anticipated album of the year." He then commented: "Gone are the futurist sunglasses, the asymmetrical haircuts, even Gaga's newly touted magic horns; instead, a mutant motorbike with Gaga's arms and head, plus a cheesy chrome typeface." He also referenced several messages from fans on Gaga's official forum expressing their dislike for the cover.[73] Andrew Martin of Prefix referred to it as "a reject from the last Terminator film".[74] The special edition cover was released on the same day: it featured just Gaga's head from the standard edition cover but the words "Lady Gaga" and "Born This Way" appear in the top left corner of the cover. They are typed in Impact font with "Born This Way" being highlighted in white with black letters. Neither of the words special nor deluxe appear anywhere on the album, as Gaga dislikes the words.[75]

Singles

"Born This Way", the eponymous lead single, was released on February 11, 2011.[76][77] Described as a "magical message", the Gaga and Jeppe Laursen-written song was produced by herself, Laursen, Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow.[78] It was met with mostly positive reception from critics, who noted the similarities with the Madonna song "Express Yourself".[79][80][81][82] "Born This Way" experienced widespread commercial success, topping the charts in over nineteen countries in addition to selling over a million copies worldwide, becoming the fastest selling song in iTunes history.[83] In her native United States, the song became Gaga's third number one hit, where it spent six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.[84][85] "Judas" was the album's second single,[86] having been released on April 15, 2011. Critics reacted positively to "Judas", complimenting the song's breakdown,[87] yet noted similarities with "Bad Romance" in its composition.[88][89] Despite that, it debuted at number four on the Hot Digital Songs chart with the sale of 162,000 copies[90] while peaking at number ten in the United States,[91] reaching in the top ten of twenty countries and peaked at number one on the South Korean charts.[92]

"The Edge of Glory" was released as the third single for the album on May 11, 2011.[93] It was praised by many critics, who deemed it as an album highlight. The song's points of positive reception include the saxophone solo provided by Clarence Clemons, the underlying message and Gaga's "throaty" and "soulful" vocals.[94] It charted in the top ten of nineteen countries and became Gaga's tenth consecutive top-ten single in the United States, debuting at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.[84] "You and I", the album's fourth single, was also met with positive critical reaction that complimented the musical composition of the song.[95][96] The song became Gaga's eleventh consecutive top ten single in the United States, peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100.[97] The single has received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.[98] "Marry the Night" serves as the fifth single from Born This Way.[99] Critical reception towards the song was positive, with reviewers calling it a strong dance-pop number.[100][101] It has charted in fifteen different countries including the United States, where it has since peaked at number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100.[102] Interscope Records confirmed that, while the song was a definite fifth single choice internationally, there was initial doubt about its US release. However, they chose to go ahead with it anyway.[103] The accompanying music video received critical acclaim as well, being noted by some critics as a "pure spectacle" and as one of Gaga's "biggest epics".[104][105][106] "Stuck on Fuckin' You", an outtake from the album, was released as a free YouTube stream on Christmas Day 2011 and thereafter as a free download.[107]

Live performances

Main article: Born This Way Ball

Gaga embarked on promotional tours and live performances for Born This Way and its accompanying singles in Europe, Asia and North America. Promotion began with a live performance of the album's lead single on February 13, 2011, at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.[108] Six days later on The Monster Ball Tour in Atlantic City, Gaga performed "Born This Way" as a second encore, using the same general attire and choreography as the Grammy performance.[109] The song was then added to the set-list of the concert tour. Two months later "Judas" was performed by Gaga in at Kennedy Lounge in Tampa, Florida, after finishing her show at the adjacent St. Pete Times Forum as part of The Monster Ball Tour.[110] "Judas" was performed on national television for the first time on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (April 28), and again at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (May 12).[111][112]

Throughout the month of May, Gaga performed "Born This Way" on Oprah (May 6), The Graham Norton Show (May 13), and the season finale of Saturday Night Live (May 21), during which the singer wore a metallic dress and a side ponytail.[113][114][115] It also included acoustic performances of "Judas" and "The Edge of Glory".[115] At the Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria, Gaga performed the first three singles of the album, as well as a live performance of "Bad Romance" (2009) and a cover of "Orange Colored Sky" as sung by Nat King Cole.[116] On May 25, Gaga showcased the final version of "The Edge of Glory" at the final show of the tenth season of American Idol, where she was joined by Clemons in person.[117] Following this, she appeared on Good Morning America as part of the "Summer Concert Series", which took place at Central Park in New York.[118] She opened up the show with a performance of "Bad Romance", and performed all the songs from the album.[118] Proceeding the event was an appearance on the season finale of Germany's Next Topmodel: Gaga previewed her song "Scheiße" and played an acoustic rendition of "Born This Way" on the piano, while performing "The Edge of Glory" to close off the show.[119][120]

Gaga attended the EuroPride 2011 in Rome, Italy, where she sang several songs from the album and denounced discrimination against the LGBT community.[121] Performances on The Paul O'Grady Show and X Factor followed suit; in the latter appearance, she started the show by playing a keytar for "The Edge of Glory", and transitioned into "Judas".[122][123] At the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards, Gaga opened up with "The Edge of Glory" and concluded the show by performing "Born This Way".[124] Both songs were performed again at the 2011 MTV Video Music Aid Japan, in which Gaga opened up the show once more by singing "The Edge of Glory" followed by "Born This Way".[125] She performed "Hair" at French television show Taratata[126] and during a short promotional tour in Taiwan, alongside "Judas" and "Telephone".[127] In July 2011, she performed a one-off concert to promote Born This Way at Sydney Town Hall, Australia.[128] Over the course of the next months, Gaga performed "The Edge of Glory", "Hair" and "You and I" on various occasions, notably on The Howard Stern Show (July 18), Jimmy Kimmel Live! (July 28), The View (August 3), and the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards (August 28).[129][130][131]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 71/100[132]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[133]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[134]
Robert Christgau A−[135]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[136]
The Independent 3/5 stars[137]
NME 8/10[12]
Q 3/5 stars[138]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[37]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[139]
Spin 8/10[33]

Born This Way received generally positive reviews from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 71, based on 33 reviews.[132] Dan Martin of NME said that "it's a damn good thing" that Gaga "doesn't know when to hold back" and complimented her for pushing musical boundaries to its "ultimate degree."[12] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine opined: "There's nothing small about this album, and Gaga sings the shit out of every single track."[139] Cinquemani compared the album to The Killers' album Sam's Town, calling it "bloated, self-important, proudly American, an exercise in extraordinary excess."[139]

Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield felt that "the more excessive Gaga gets, the more honest she sounds."[37] Caryn Ganz of Spin felt that "excess is Gaga's riskiest musical gamble, but it's also her greatest weapon, and Born This Way relentlessly bludgeons listeners' pleasure centres".[33] Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly said that the album is "rewarding but wildly uneven", although "the album's sprawl still shows off the breadth of her talent."[140] Despite criticizing her for "letting her skills as a songwriter slide ever so slightly," AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine complimented Gaga's composing "sensibility" and "considerable dexterity at delivering the basics."[133] Robert Christgau found the album to not be on-par with The Fame or The Fame Monster, but added that "both of those keep growing, and with its mad momentum and nutty thematics, this one could too."[135]

In a mixed review, Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune felt that the album was rushed and sounded like "a major artist sprinting to please everyone all the time."[134] Evan Sawdey of PopMatters called it "her weakest album to date" and wrote that it combines "some daring songwriting with some remarkably repetitive themes and beats."[141] Chris Richards of The Washington Post found it "boring" and said that, "at its worst, it sounds like reheated leftovers from some '80s movie soundtrack."[142]

Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times opined that Gaga lacks musical adventurousness and that "She's unsubtle in her message, unsubtle in her dress, and, most important, unsubtle aesthetically ... If Gaga had only spent as much time on pushing musical boundaries as she has social ones, Born This Way would have been a lot more successful."[38] Andy Gill of The Independent critiqued that "the broader [Gaga] spreads her net musically, the less distinctive her art becomes."[137] James Reed from The Boston Globe said that the songwriting "feels thin" and called the album "the most deflated moment in pop music this year".[143] Rich Juzwiak of The Village Voice commented that Gaga's "we-shall-overcome sentiment" is expressed more effectively through the album's "egalitarian use of house beats" than through her "sloganeering", which he found "trite" and "[un]insightful."[144]

Commercial performance

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 after having sold 1,108,000 copies during the first week, making it the seventeenth album to sell over a million copies in one week. Born This Way was Gaga's first number-one album and the highest first-week total since 50 Cent's The Massacre (2005) sold 1,141,000 in its first week. Gaga is the fifth woman to sell one million copies in a week, after Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard Soundtrack, 1992), Britney Spears (Oops!...I Did It Again, 2000), Norah Jones (Feels Like Home, 2004), and Taylor Swift (Speak Now, 2010). Amazon sold an estimated 440,000 copies in its first two days at a price of 99 cents[145] (at a loss of over $3 million)[146] which contributed to its 662,000 digital sales, the largest in SoundScan history. Digital downloads accounted for 60 percent of Born This Way's first week total.[147][148] The album also became the eighth best-selling digital album in United States history after its first week of sales.[149] Before debuting on the Billboard 200, Born This Way debuted at number ten on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart.[150] The next week, it jumped to number one, displacing The Fame.[151] In its second week, the album sold 174,000 copies to remain at the top spot on the Billboard 200,[152] but with a sales decrease of 84.27%, set the record for the largest second-week percentage sales drop for a No. 1-debuting album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.[153] Digitally, the album had a 94% drop, selling 38,000 copies.[154] In its third week the album fell to number two being displaced by Adele's 21 with 42% sales decrease after having sold 100,000 copies.[155] In its fourth week the album fell to number four with 33% sales decrease, selling 68,000 copies.[155] Born This Way became the third-best-selling album of the year in the United States, with sales of 2,101,000 copies.[156] Born This Way is also the fifth best-selling digital album of all time in the United States, with 877,000 copies sold, as of January 2012.[157] As of March 2014, the album has sold 2.326 million copies in total in the US.[158]

The album debuted at number one in Ireland,[159] and Sweden,[160] while debuting at number two in Finland where it was the fifth-best-selling album of 2011.[161][162][163] The album debuted at the top spot in Australia, becoming her second number-one album there after The Fame Monster. Born This Way was certified platinum in Australia in its first week by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and has since been certified double platinum for a shipment of 140,000 copies.[164][165] In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart dated May 29, 2011, selling 215,639 units, which was the highest first-week sales of the year.[166] That week, the album outsold more than the rest of the top 10 combined[166] and has the best first-week tally of any album by an American female solo artist since Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor with sales of 217,610 copies in 2005.[167] As of January 2012, Born This Way has sold a total of 853,633 copies in the UK.[168] In France, Born This Way debuted at number one on the French Albums Chart and held that spot for two weeks. As of January 2012, the album has sold 180,000 copies and has been certified double-platinum by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.[169][170] Born This Way also debuted at the top spot on the New Zealand Albums Chart, becoming her second album to chart there, after The Fame Monster. The album was certified platinum in its first week of sales.[171] Born This Way sold 184,000 copies in its first week in Japan, and debuted atop the Oricon chart.[172] It has been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipment of 750,000 copies.[173] Born This Way was the fourth best-selling album of the year in Japan, with sales of 658,554 copies.[174] Worldwide, the album sold 2.5 million copies in its first week of release.[175]

As of September 2012, sales of the album were announced to have reached nearly 6 million copies.[176][177][178][179]

Accolades

Born This Way was included in several year-end lists by music critics and publications. Rolling Stone magazine, in their list of the "50 Best Albums of 2011", ranked it at sixth place, writing "none of Gaga's previous exercises in musical plussizing prepared us for this kind of anything-goes extravagance".[180] The Guardian, in their list of the best albums of 2011, listed Born This Way at 31st.[181] Slant Magazine ranked the album as the third best of 2011 in their list of "The 25 Best Albums of 2011", calling it a "magnum opus", and describing it as a "sincere ode to the bedazzled hearts of outsiders past and present".[182] Furthermore, MTV ranked it as the tenth best album of 2011, claiming it is the "first multi-national, multi-hyphenate, multi-sexual pop album of our time", and called it "her grandest mission statement to date".[183] About.com listed Born This Way as the second top pop album of 2011, claiming it is a "pop landmark" and a "wild rollercoaster ride of music".[184] Claiming that through the album, Gaga "thinks pop can still move policy, and she might be right",[185] and describing the record as the "biggest pop album" of 2011,[185] Spin listed Born This Way as the 29th best album of the year, as well as the best pop album of the year.[185][186] Digital Spy included Born This Way in their "25 Best Albums of 2011" list, at fifth place,[187] while the Daily Record ranked it at seventeenth out of twenty, commenting on Gaga having gone "full-scale European underground electro disco".[188]

Aside from critic polls, the album received Grammy Award nominations for the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012, including Album of the Year, Best Pop Album and Best Pop Solo Performance (for her song "You and I").[98] Being her third consecutive Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, Gaga is the first artist since British rock band The Beatles to receive three consecutive nominations in the category.[2] Additionally, the album was nominated in the category of Favorite Pop/Rock Album at the American Music Awards of 2011,[189] losing to Adele's 21. However, Born This Way beat out 21 at the 38th People's Choice Awards, taking home Favorite Album.[190] At the Japan Gold Disc Awards Born This Way won International Album of the Year and Western Album of the Year.[191] In 2012, Rolling Stones called Born This Way the 11th greatest album of all time by a female artist.[192] The album was ranked number 1 on NME magazine's list of The 10 Most Pretentious Albums Ever.[193]

Religious criticism

"I find Gaga to be increasingly irrelevant. She thinks she is going to be groundbreaking. She is trying to ripoff Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances. Another ex-Catholic whose head is turned around. This is a stunt. People have real talent, and then there is Lady Gaga. Is this the only way to jet up her performance? This isn't random, we are getting closer to Holy Week and Easter."

William Anthony Donohue, on the music video of "Judas"[194]

Several religious groups have condemned the album for its incorporation of several religious icons of Christianity and its stance on sexuality. In Lebanon, Born This Way was temporarily banned by the General Secretary Department, who deemed the album to be in bad taste and mocking of Christianity.[195] Abdo Abu Kassm, director of the Catholic Information Center of Lebanon, highly criticized the themes of the album, expressing that "if they are going to offend us we are going to cancel the album."[196] He continued: "We will not accept that anyone insult the Virgin Mary or Jesus or Christianity [...]. Call us traditional, call us backward, call us whatever you want. We will not accept it."[196] This ban lasted up until June 9.[195][197][198]

The music video of "Judas" was criticized by William Anthony Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, notably for Gaga's portrayal of Mary Magdalene. In an interview with HollywoodLife.com, Donohue expressed discontent towards Gaga's focus on Judas and Mary Magdalene, calling her "increasingly irrelevant" compared to people with "real talent", and attacked her for seemingly purposefully debuting the song and video close to Holy Week and Easter.[194] Shortly after its release, "Judas" was banned in Lebanon.[199] In Malaysia, where homosexuality is considered a criminal offense, the government criticized the album for its stance on sexuality and feminism.[200] Shortly after the release of the title track "Born This Way", radio stations across the country edited out several lyrics of the song as ordered by the Malaysian government.[201] Rosnah Ismail, the vice-chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sabah, condemned the song, opining: "Islam forbids this. We have to abide by the country's laws."[202]

Track listing

Born This WayStandard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Marry the Night"  
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
4:25
2. "Born This Way"  
  • Gaga
  • Laursen
  • Garibay
  • Paul Blair aka DJ White Shadow
4:20
3. "Government Hooker"  
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Blair
4:14
4. "Judas"  
  • Gaga
  • RedOne
4:09
5. "Americano"  
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Blair
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Blair
4:07
6. "Hair"  
  • Gaga
  • RedOne
  • Gaga
  • RedOne
5:08
7. "Scheiße"  
  • Gaga
  • RedOne
  • Gaga
  • RedOne
3:46
8. "Bloody Mary"  
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Blair
4:05
9. "Bad Kids"  
  • Gaga
  • Laursen
  • Garibay
  • Blair
  • Gaga
  • Laursen
  • Garibay
  • Blair
3:51
10. "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)"  
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Blair
  • RedOne
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Blair
4:16
11. "Heavy Metal Lover"  
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
4:13
12. "Electric Chapel"  
  • Gaga
  • Blair
  • Gaga
  • Blair
4:12
13. "You and I"   Lady Gaga 5:07
14. "The Edge of Glory"  
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
  • Blair
  • Gaga
  • Garibay
5:21
Total length:
61:07


Notes

Credits and personnel

Credits for Born This Way adapted from Allmusic.[215]

  • Andy Abad – requinto
  • Christina Abaroa – copyist, librarian, music preparation
  • Al Carlson – assistant
  • Cheche Alara – arranger, composer, instrumentation
  • Jorge Alavrez – vocals (background)
  • Stephanie Amaro – guitar
  • Gretchen Anderson – producer
  • Paul Blair – guitar
  • Bobby Campbell – marketing
  • Troy Carter – management
  • Clarence Clemons – saxophone
  • Kareem Devlin – guitar
  • DJ Snake – bass, drums, keyboards, producer
  • DJ White Shadow – composer, drum programming, keyboards, producer, programming
  • Lisa Einhorn-Gilder – production coordination
  • Nicola Formichetti – creation
  • Fernando Garibay – arranger, background vocals, composer, engineer, guitar, instrumentation, keyboards, musical director, producer, programming
  • Val Garland – make-up
  • Brian Gaynor – bass, keyboards
  • Kamau Georges – programming
  • Laurieann Gibson – creation
  • David Gomez – vocals (background)
  • Suemy Gonzalez – violin
  • Gene Grimaldi – mastering
  • Vincent Herbert – A&R, executive producer
  • Julio Hernandez – violin
  • Mario Hernandez – guitarron, vihuela
  • Peter Hutchings – assistant
  • Dyana Kass – marketing
  • Harry Kim – trumpet
  • Ken Knapstad – assistant
  • Nick Knight – creation, photography
  • Phillip Knight – assistant
  • Lady Gaga – arranger, composer, instrumentation, keyboards, musical director, producer, vocals
  • Robert John "Mutt" Lange – background vocals, producer
  • Jeppe Laursen – composer, producer
  • Brian Lee – background vocals
  • Bill Malina – engineer
  • Brandon Maxwell – stylist
  • Brian May – guitar
  • Sam McKnight – hair stylist
  • Eric Morris – assistant
  • Wendi Morris – management
  • Carlos Murguía – background vocals
  • Trevor Muzzy – engineer, guitar, mixing, vocal editing
  • Jennifer Paola – A&R
  • Paul Pavao – assistant
  • Kevin Porter – assistant
  • Jordan Power – assistant
  • RedOne – background vocals, composer, engineer, instrumentation, producer, programming, vocal arrangement, vocal editing
  • Olle Romo – engineer, programming
  • Dave Russell – engineer, mixing
  • Rafa Sardina – engineer, mixing
  • Justin Shirley-Smith – guitar engineer
  • Amanda Silverman – publicity
  • Clinton Sparks – keyboards, producer
  • George Tandero – assistant
  • Todd Tourso – creation
  • Anna Trevelyan – stylist
  • Peter Van Der Veen – background vocals
  • Horace Ward – engineer
  • Tom Ware – engineer
  • Kenta Yonesaka – assistant

Charts

Certifications

Country Certifications
Australia 2× Platinum[165]
Belgium Platinum[280]
Brazil 2× Platinum[281]
Canada 4× Platinum[282]
Denmark Gold[283]
Europe Platinum[284]
Finland Gold[285]
France 2× Platinum[170]
GCC Platinum[286]
Germany Platinum[287]
Hungary Gold[288]
Ireland 2× Platinum[289]
Italy Platinum[290]
Japan 3× Platinum[173]
Mexico Platinum[291]
New Zealand Platinum[171]
Philippines 3× Platinum[292]
Poland Platinum[293]
Portugal 4× Platinum[294]
Russia 4× Platinum[268]
Spain Gold[295]
Sweden Platinum[296]
Switzerland Platinum[297]
United Kingdom 3× Platinum[298]
United States 2× Platinum[299]

Release history

Region Date Format(s) Label Edition(s)
Worldwide May 23, 2011 Compact disc, digital download Streamline Records, Interscope Records, Kon Live Standard, deluxe
India[300] Standard (Digipak)
Colombia[301] May 30, 2011 Compact disc Universal Music, Interscope Box set (Standard)
United States[302][303] June 7, 2011 CD, LP, digital download Streamline Records, Interscope Records, Kon Live Fan Package
China[304] August 11, 2011 Compact disc Universal Music, STARSING CULTURE Standard
Germany[305] September 27, 2011 USB drive Interscope Standard
United States[306] October 3, 2011 Deluxe
October 26, 2011 LP, digital download Limited Collector's
Germany[307] November 18, 2011 Compact disc+DVD Box set (Deluxe)
United Kingdom[308] November 21, 2011 Polydor
Germany[309] Interscope
United States[310] Box set (Standard)
Japan[311]
United States[312] December 27, 2011 PID Box set (Deluxe)
Japan[313] December 29, 2011 Polydor

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  293. ^ "TOP 100 ALBUMES". ZPAV. Retrieved September 7, 2011. 
  294. ^ "Top Official AFP" (in Portuguese). Associação Fonográfica Portuguesa. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
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  298. ^ "BPI Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
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  300. ^ "Born This Way (Indian Edition)". Universal Music.com. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
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  310. ^ "Born This Way – 2 CD / DVD Combo". Amazon.com. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  311. ^ "Born This Way: Collection" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
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External links