But six straight weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 later, “Born This Way” is the fastest-selling hit of Gaga’s career. Clearly, it was the right track, baby. Now she’s getting her twang on with a “Country Road” version of her megahit.
Want to hear the lyric “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” set to an electric guitar and harmonica? Well, look no further:
This isn’t the first time Gaga’s unveiled a stripped-down cut of one of her pop hits. Her acoustic takes on “Poker Face” and “Paparazzi”—just her fast-flying fingers on a piano and that powerhouse voice—may be superior to the originals. But this is her first attempt at country and … it’s amazingly good. How ambitious, too, that her first foray into ten-gallon-hat territory would be with “Born This Way.”
Although an empowerment anthem for everybody, it’s also inextricably linked to gay pride, and, let’s face it, country music hasn’t traditionally been the go-to forum for the LGBT community—at least not since Shania Twain felt like a woman.
But let’s think again. From Hank Williams to Carrie Underwood, country music has always lent itself to personal narratives of trauma and heartbreak, sure. But also of redemption and triumph. Isn’t that what “Born This Way” is all about?
If Gaga’s pop version left some fans unsatisfied, I suspect it’s because a hopeful message about celebrating authenticity—the “real you”—was being conveyed through her most synthetic sound yet.
This country version, though—slowed down and stripped to the vital components of grooving electric and acoustic guitars, a wailing harmonica, and thumping percussion—seems to remove that discrepancy between its style and its content. Could a new era of musical cross-pollination be at hand?
Lady Gaga talks early struggles, denies lip-synching, shouts-out Liza Minnelli and Marisa Tomei at Madison Square Garden