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Lady Gaga: Born This Way (Interscope) 

One of the songs on Gaga's new album is the country ballad "Yoü and I." Note the umlaut. It's neo-Nashville pablum, and a great example of Born This Way's general incoherence—though I'm not sure it's fair to expect a coherent album from an artist like Gaga.

"Yoü and I" is fascinating, because it reveals Gaga's intention to keep a stranglehold on mainstream audiences who might be tired of her shtick, even if she's going to slap an umlaut in the title there to freak it up a bit. She's clearly committed to forestalling the career meltdown she teased back in "Paparazzi" (still her only truly great pop single).

So Born This Way tries to have all things for all people, and I just can't imagine anyone actually loving it all the way through. There's the weird synth-pop-meets-Def Leppard "Electric Chapel." "The Edge of Glory" sounds like the disco-rock that populated Rocky and Beverly Hills Cop soundtracks throughout the '80s. It has a sax solo. It's hard to tell if Gaga's really this tacky, or if she just has a really low opinion of the public.

But there are moments. "Government Hooker" is fun as goth-schlock. I like "Judas" a bit more than I should. When she's being blatant fake Eurotrash, I sort of love her, like on "Scheiße."

But why should we put up with this when Britney just put out Femme Fatale, the best dance record of her career?

More by Sean Bottai

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