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Intro

Word is that Elton John thinks "Born This Way" is the "gayest song" he has ever heard. He called it "the new gay anthem" and predicted that it would surpass Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" as the biggest, most iconic gay song ever.

Yes, people who talk about Lady Gaga are prone to hyperbole. But Elton John may have gotten a basic fact wrong: is it actually accurate to call "Born This Way" a "gay song"? The polarizing figure that is Lady Gaga loves to play with identity and advocate for gay rights, but "gay" hardly sums up what the absurdist diva is up to: the wacky sci-fi music video for "Born This Way" features a roller-coaster of creations ranging from slimy monster-babies to androgynous zombies, with across-the-spectrum expressions of sexual orientation taking a backseat to Gaga's own alien ambitions. In other words, the idea that she was "born this way" does not exactly seem to be referring to her bisexuality alone. Instead, Lady Gaga presents a futuristic vision of a post-gender utopia in which everyone is free to be…well, basically pretty weird. Whatever the critics may say (and there are many), people are so infectiously drawn to that vision that as of July 2011, the Gaga video had nearly 70 million views.

Is Lady Gaga the future, or just a blip on 2011's ever-changing screen? Perhaps we're simplifying the question. As Lady Gaga herself said in 2011, "What I do for a living is not a cheese sandwich. It's not like, either good or bad. It's much more complicated than that." Read on if you're ready to dip your toes into the churning cauldron of glitter, goop, and gore that is Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." Whether it makes you retch, tear off your clothes to reveal tight, gender-neutral underclothes the color of your own skin, or give birth to a new race of monster-ly beings, we think you will find that the whole picture is not much like a cheese sandwich at all.

About the Song

ArtistLady Gaga Musician(s)Lady Gaga (vocals)
AlbumBorn This Way
Year2011
LabelStreamline, Interscope, Kon Live
Writer(s)Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), Jeppe Laursen, Paul Blair, Fernando Garibay
Producer(s)Lady Gagy, Jeppe Laursen, Fernando Garibay, DJ White Shadow
Learn to play: Tablature, Piano Sheet Music
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes
Try Listen and Learn (BETA)

Music Video

Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
You thought Kanye was having fun with the idea of being a monster? Well, the unbelievably performance-savvy diva has certainly one-upped Mr. West in 2011, at least in terms of attention-grabbing stunts—oh, and #1 hits, too. Plus, Gaga is already neck-deep in controversies that go beyond stage stunts and outfits, weighing in on everything from gay marriage to immigrant rights and calling on fans to take political action.

For some, "Born This Way" goes too far—while it was a #1 hit in no less than 25 countries, it was also banned in several countries for its explicit pro-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender content. On the flip side, Gaga has been criticized for co-opting gay rights by gay rights activists themselves; she has also been called a racist, accused of copying Madonna, and squarely bashed by some (but not all) feminists.

Some days it feels like a Mother Monster just can't win…but other days, like the day she wore the meat dress, it seems like Lady Gaga is on top of the world. Read on (at your own risk) if you're still tempted to dig into the "Born This Way" debate after hearing the phrase "meat purse" uttered publicly that many times.

On the Charts

"Born This Way" topped the charts in the U.S., Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and Switzerland—and that's just the #1 ratings. The blockbusting single also charted in the top ten in the UK, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, and Norway. Whew!

On the Billboard Hot 100, "Born This Way" also happened into the honor of being the 1000th #1 hit in the history of the chart.

The album of the same name peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in 2011. It was also a #1 album in 25 other countries, including Taiwan, Portugal, and Slovenia.

"Born This Way" was the fastest-selling iTunes track in history, selling more than 1 million downloads in just 5 days and hitting #1 in all of the 23 countries where the iTunes download was available. Lady Gaga is already in the Guinness Book of World Records for several of her many record-breaking sales and awards numbers.
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