Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' Criticized for Similarities to Madonna Songs
Critics and fans were mixed in their reviews of the long-awaited single, which some called a hodge-podge of other pop tunes.
Following months of anticipation and online buzz, Friday's release of Lady Gaga's new single saw the public explode in a flurry of talk about the possibility that Gaga had ripped off pop icon Madonna.
Critics and fans alike noted that "Born This Way," a bold, fast-paced club song that Gaga has called her "gay anthem," borrows from many of Madonna's older hits, including "Express Yourself," "Ray of Light" and "Vogue."
Caryn Ganz at the Amplifier called the song "overworked, overwrought, noisy, cheesy, and very, very derivative" and cited Gaga's claim that she wrote it in ten minutes as the root of the problem.
"'Born This Way' follows the blueprint for an early '90s club hit remarkably carefully: keening strings on the first verse, a propulsive four-on-the-foor thump, layers of squelching synths, soulful vocals." Ganz added that the song also has hints of Kelly Rowland and David Guetta's "When Love Takes Over" and TLC's "Waterfalls."
London's Daily Telegraph thought the song's imitative nature would affect perceptions of Gaga's artistry. "Basically it is a reworking of Madonna's 'Express Yourself' with a touch of Madonna's 'Vogue.' Which is a bit too much Madonna for someone who is trying to establish her own identity as the, er, new Madonna."
Twitter was also abuzz with comparisons, so much that "Express Yourself" started trending on Friday. Fans were split over whether the likeness was a good thing, while some celebrities tried to stay objective.
"Just listened to a clip of Lady Gaga 'Born This Way' and I gotta say...sounds a lot like 'Express Yourself' from Madonna," musician Chris Daughtry tweeted. "And by the way...I'm not dogging it. Haven't even heard it all...that was just my first impress."
However, several critics praised Gaga's nod to "Express Yourself," with some even preferring it to the original.
"Lady Gaga has got something to say about 'Express Yourself,' and she’s turned Madonna’s fourth-best single of 1989 into her own instant-classic club anthem," said Rolling Stone. "It’s an event, a statement, the most anticipatrended song in the history of recorded music, or at least since Britney’s 'Hold It Against Me.'"
Others dismissed the talk of similarities all together and simply praised the song.
"Whether its sound comes too close to one or another Madonna song seems beside the point; what current pop hit doesn't go green by recycling something familiar?" said the LA Times' Ann Powers.
She added that comparisons are pointless, since Madonna and Gaga promote different messages in their songs. "'Born This Way' never hints that outsiders should remake the world in their image, instead invoking God and mommy to suggest that society's frameworks need not change, only open their doors a little wider."
Prior to the single's release, the debut of Gaga's black and white album cover for "Born This Way" also sparked controversy among fans who thought the artist had copied Kylie Minogue's artwork for "2 Hearts." Both covers feature the singers in profile with dramatic eye makeup, dark lipstick and graffiti-inspired font.