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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Born This Way

Can I write a blog entry in just two hours?

That's the challenge that I have issued for myself in this edition of the Sunday Jukebox.

I guess I should explain why I only have 120 precious minutes to work with in regards to this particular blog entry. By the time you read this, it will likely already be early Sunday morning, but just to let you know, I am starting this entry at 8:49pm the Saturday night prior. The reason why I am starting this blog so late is because my Saturday was extremely busy. First of all, I had to work a full eight and a half hour shift in the Garden Centre from 7:00 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon, and immediately after leaving work, I joined my whole family for a dinner out, and I just got back home minutes ago.

And, I have another shift in the Garden Centre on Sunday morning from 7:00 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. In order for me to get enough rest so I am alert enough to work my shift, I have to be in bed no later than eleven in the evening. So, as a result, I am a little crunched for time.

And, I'm just realizing at this moment that my little introduction has taken up three whole minutes, so I'm thinking that maybe I should shut up now and get on with it before I waste even more time.

Last Sunday, I did a spotlight on Des'ree and one of her biggest worldwide hits. One of the reasons why I enjoyed that particular song was because it was a song that was very inspirational. And, if there are any songs that I enjoy, they are ones that possess a very powerful and positive message.

So, I thought that for this week, I would do it again. And today's featured artist is one that has gotten a lot of attention over the last few years.

Have you heard of a woman by the name of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta? I know. I see some of you trying to figure it out. Was she an Italian politician? Was she the frontwoman for some obscure rock band? Was she that prom date that you stood up twenty some years ago?

Okay, let me ask you another question. Have you heard of Lady Gaga?

If you answered yes to the second question, you can answer yes to the first one as well, as Lady Gaga and Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta are one in the same. And this 27-year-old music sensation has gotten a lot of attention – both positive and negative.

I'm sure that you won't disagree with me when I say that Lady Gaga is perhaps one of the most unique artists to come out of the early 21st century. And, she has made the headlines in a number of unusual ways. Throwing up on stage is certainly one way to get attention. Hatching out of an egg on stage is certainly one way to get noticed. Wearing a dress that is fashioned out of what appeared to be the entire meat counter of a supermarket definitely got tongues wagging.

But here's the thing about Lady Gaga. Behind all of the outlandish stage costumes and bizarre stage performances lies a very talented young woman who not only has such loyalty for her fans (whom she has affectionately referred to as “little monsters”), but who also stands up for what she believes in, no matter who calls her out on it, or who might disagree.

In fact, I'll even admit to liking a couple of her songs myself. How can I not? They're structured exactly like classic pop songs of yore. They have an infectious hook, a catchy chorus, and a hypnotizing beat. I bet many of you have found yourselves humming along to “Just Dance”, or bobbing along to “Bad Romance”, and not even realizing it!

Well, for today's Sunday Jukebox, we're going to be looking at a song that is performed by Lady Gaga. And, this song basically has everything that I described earlier. It has an infectious hook and catchy chorus, and it also provides a very strong message that I believe everyone should take note of. And while the song particularly targets both women and members of the LGBT community, I think that the song's message is one that people of all ages, sizes, colours, and sexual orientations can really relate to.

By now, I'm sure you may have figured out which song that I have chosen for today's selection, so I won't waste any more time.

ARTIST: Lady Gaga
SONG: Born This Way
ALBUM: Born This Way
DATE RELEASED: February 11, 2011

PERSONAL NOTE: Wow...this song was released the day before I had my very first surgery. I'm not sure what exactly this has to do with anything, but I just found the date quite interesting.

Some might disagree with me on this point, but just judging by the reception this song received upon its February 2011 release, I would consider this to be Lady Gaga's signature song. Even more so than “Poker Face”!

I mean, forget the fact that the song stayed at #1 for six weeks, making it the third longest running #1 single of 2011 (only Adele's “Rolling in the Deep” and Rihanna's “We Found Love” had longer stays at #1 with seven and eight weeks respectively). The song hit #1 in twenty-five different countries. The song was once the fastest selling single on iTunes (before it was bested by Taylor Swift's “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. The song sold more than eight million copies in total, and it boasts the unique distinction of being the one thousandth song in history to top the charts!

Oh, and the music video also won a couple of MTV Video Music Awards in 2011. Just in case you were curious.

Now, before I get into how this song is a largely positive piece of self-discovery and self-reflection, I will state that this song also sparked some controversy. Some Asian and Hispanic communities took offense at the song because Lady Gaga incorporated the terms “chola” and “orient” into the song's lyrics.

And, of course, there was the allegations of plagiarism floating around as well when it was noted that “Born This Way” sounded very similar to the song below.

What's amusing was that Madonna even acknowledged the similarities by stating that as soon as she heard the song on the radio, she thought it sounded oddly familiar, and later on she revealed in an interview that it was “a wonderful way to redo my song”.

One does wonder though. “Born This Way” was a #1 hit for a month and a half while Madonna's “Express Yourself” only peaked at #2 in the summer of 1989. I'm just gonna leave you with that nugget of information as we progress with this blog subject.

For what it's worth, Lady Gaga herself stated that the song only took her a whopping ten minutes, and actually compared the songwriting process to an Immaculate Conception.

(Not to be confused with the 1990 Madonna compilation, “The Immaculate Collection”. You know, just to get the Lady Gaga steals Madonna's shtick off the table.)

Later, in an interview with Billboard, Lady Gaga described the inspiration behind the song. Note the censored word that I bleeped out of the quote, as I am trying to keep this blog open to audiences of all ages.

"I want to write my this-is-who-the-f@#$-I-am anthem, but I don't want it to be hidden in poetic wizardry and metaphors. I want it to be an attack, an assault on the issue because I think, especially in today's music, everything gets kind of washy sometimes and the message gets hidden in the lyrical play. Harkening back to the early '90s, when Madonna, En Vogue, Whitney Houston, and TLC were making very empowering music for women and the gay community and all kind of disenfranchised communities, the lyrics and the melodies were very poignant and very gospel and very spiritual and I said, 'That's the kind of record I need to make. That's the record that's going to shake up the industry.' It's not about the track. It's not about the production. It's about the song. Anyone could sing 'Born This Way'. It could've been anyone."

She also admitted that one of the biggest challenges in writing the song “Born This Way” was the idea that she wasn't exactly sure how to leave her insecurities behind her and become more confident in herself, and that “Born This Way” was her answer to who she really artist in a constant state of half fantasy/half reality at all times.

And, you know something? That last statement is one that completely had me hooked, as I feel exactly the same way about myself.

I'm sure most of you know this by now, but I've had my own struggles with insecurity. If any of you out there can't claim the same, you're either lying to yourselves, or you're currently showing signs of insecurity because take it from me, we all have felt that way about ourselves at one time. And, I'll also be the first one to admit that the struggle to lose those insecurities has been a really tough road. I'm winning that battle though, and I'm getting closer to finding out who I really am each and every passing day. As for those insecurities? Well, they only become insecurities if I let them become that way...and frankly, I'm not about to let anyone else make me feel bad about myself...especially myself!

But there's also a lot that I can take out of the “artist in a constant state of half fantasy/half reality at all times” comment that Lady Gaga made. Because in many ways, I too feel like I am an artist who treads the fine line between reality and fiction in any given situation.

Well, okay...maybe “artist” is too strong a word to describe myself. But, I have kept a blog going for over two years now. I suppose I've earned that title just for doing that.

The point is that when I was a kid, I always dreamt big. The problem is that a lot of my dreams that I had as a child were so far out of reality that they would never ever come true. Case in point, when I was four years old, I wanted to visit the sun and walk on it. I eventually learned that walking on the sun is only possible in a Smashmouth single, but that's just one small example.

I was always a kid who liked daydreaming. It never really affected my schoolwork, nor did it affect much of anything in my life, but I was always constantly picturing myself in these weird and wacky scenarios that were a little bit too bizarre for my liking, but were exciting enough that I had fun anyway. It didn't matter that I wasn't really dancing on stage at a rock concert, or hitching a ride on a gigantic butterfly, or hosting a game show where all the contestant received a popcorn maker simply for getting called up on stage.

(And, yes...these were all dreams that I had as a child.)

Looking back on it though, the only reason why I had such vibrant daydreams was because I had quite a bit of time on my hands. And, while many people might consider this to be a bad thing, I don't. I was always a rather creative kid, always coming up with different ideas and taking on a different perspective on the world than others did. My way of thinking was admittedly outside the box a lot of the time, and I imagine that way of thinking likely ostracized me from other people who preferred to follow along with the rest of the crowd.

But, I couldn't help the way I was. I was born this way. I was always the creative kid who never really followed people. Maybe when I was a young kid, I tried to follow others because I wanted to be liked...but as I grew older, that became less important. And, besides, if I couldn't be true to myself, how could I be true to other people?

I guess if Lady Gaga has taught me anything, it's that we were all born a certain way. And, personally, I think that's a beautiful thing.

And, as I finish this blog entry, it is now 10:37pm. Finished my blog entry with minutes to spare!

Damn, I'm good.  

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