Born This Way

When Lady Gaga sings “there ain’t no other way,” she isn’t mincing words. Her second album, Born This Way, is devoted to her two favorite sonic levels: over-the-top and bombast. She likes her pop with rolling dance beats, grandiose lyrical adages and hooky, arena-sized choruses. Born This Way is her love letter to ’80s and ’90s pop-rock anthems, with plenty of tributes to Bruce Springsteen and Madonna.

Although most critics were divided, her army of “little monsters” didn’t need any convincing. They gladly turned Born This Way into a platinum-certified hit. To wit, Nielsen SoundScan reported Tuesday that Born This Way will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 1.11 million copies in its first week — the highest since 2005, when 50 Cent’s The Massacre sold 1.14 million. It’s an impressive showing: Born This Way is only the 17th album to sell a million in a week since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991.

For an awards ceremony that seems to carry as much gravitas as the Peoples’ Choice Awards, it had some serious star power: Rihanna and Britney Spears arm-danced together in a blitzkrieg of sparks, chains and canned vocals. Cee Lo Green at one point performed upside down at a piano. And if there was doubt before of Beyonce’s talent, then watch her elaborate dance number, inspired by a YouTube video of Italian artist Lorella Cuccarini.

(The following contains spoilers from recent TV show season finales.)
The TV season wrapped up with some long-awaited (but not always on-camera) consummations, lame, anticlimactic fake-outs and the dullest trip to New York ever.

On “The Good Wife,” Alicia and Will, finally (finally!) released their sexual tension in a brilliantly done elevator ride to a $7,000 presidential suite. Also (finally) having sex: Booth and Brennan on “Bones,” but the show maddeningly withheld their copulation for a surprise scene of Brennan announcing her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, “The Office” chickened out of their months-long buildup of a replacement for the departing Steve Carrell. The finale didn’t even make good use of its star-studded lineup of guest stars, including Ray Romano and Jim Carrey. Twice as infuriating was the finale for “How I Met Your Mother,” which included the key piece of Bob Saget narration we’ve all been waiting for (“And kids, that was how I met your mother”), with a slap-in-the-face “psych!” It would have been funny had the season not been so mediocre.

On the terminally uneven “Glee,” New Directions finally made it to Nationals in New York. The season came to a close as expected. Rachel and Finn rekindled their relationship; Mr. Schue’s plot line was swiftly abandoned for the sake of the kids (if the producers don’t do something soon to give Matthew Morrison more to do, he’s just going to be a singing vest); and the team just barely lost the competition — but they all had fun in New York, so who cares! Also, Sam and Mercedes are secretly dating, but it’s difficult to believe the romance will last. Mercedes would be the third cast member Sam has dated over the course of the season.

Hopefully Arnold Schwarzenegger has no further political aspirations: the bomb he dropped has ruined any chance he might have had. With his run as governor of California coming to a close, he announced that he had fathered a lovechild with one his housemaids 14 years earlier and he’d been secretly financially supporting them. His wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, announced the couple’s separation shortly thereafter. His comeback animated series, “The Governator,” which was set to start production, was cancelled. “Hasta la vista,” never seemed so prescient.

Lady Gaga’s bad romance just got a bit more sinful. “Judas,” the second single off the soon-to-be-released Born This Way takes the melody of “Bad Romance” and adds religious controversy as any wannabe Madonna should. Instead of screams of “ra, ra, ah, ah, ah,” Lady Gaga cries “Judas, ah, ah, ah!” Instead of the Euro-tinged industrial beats, producer RedOne mixes in tribal drums and New Wave influences. Already inciting controversy over Gaga’s worship of the devil, the song uses Judas as an analogy for a deceitful lover and brings absolutely no subversive value to the song. While “Judas” is sinfully delicious as a pop single and hits harder than “Born this Way,” maybe we just went a little bit too gaga over Gaga. The single exposes the innate stupidity of Gaga’s music.

Continuing the chill phase of their career, Radiohead released “Supercollider” on April 16 for Record Store Day. For its entire seven minutes, the song has about as much movement as lava. Built around glitchy electronics and synthesized piano chords, “Supercollider” describes particles smashing into one another. There is an eerie quality beneath the song with Thom Yorke’s echoing lyrics. Though “Supercollider” has a pulse greater than half of their latest album, King of Limbs, that is not saying much. Damn, what happened to the Kid A days when the band had a bit more urgency?

Far removed from the buzz that surrounded their arrival onto the music scene four years ago, The Arctic Monkeys feel free to experiment on “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” the first single off of their upcoming album Suck It & See. The band abandons their sugary, hook-heavy Brit-rock sound for heavy, clanging ’90s-tinged rock. Lead singer Alex Turner does his best Eddie Vedder with his deep, foreboding vocals while the guitar chord rollicks along to a Clash-inspired melody. The Arctic Monkeys have moved on from being cute British boys to the rebellious teenagers trying and successfully growing up.