Friday, June 15, 2012

Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

“Bad Romance” is one of Lady Gaga’s greatest works and one of the best pop songs ever created.  It’s a powerful song that through the shadow of its dark imagery is a celebration of everything that is awesome about popular music.

After her breakthrough album The Fame, it was difficult to imagine what Lady Gaga was going to do next. Songs like “Pokerface” and “Paparazzi” (this hyperlink and others in this entry link to other post about these songs) pushed the boundary of what people felt comfortable as pop music.  She using strongly referential musical styles with provocative lyrics. There is nothing original about the elements that Lady Gaga used in her first album, but the way she put things together and presented herself was something that no one was else was doing at the time.

Her first album was a triumph but lacked a song with true universal appeal that spoke beyond her neo-1980s dance music and disturbing music videos. Yes, singing “Pokerface” is a good time, but something feels off about rocking to this song in a large group of people.

To lead off her second album The Fame Monster we got “Bad Romance.” The song opens with a glorious rising vocal line leading into the words “caught into a bad romance.” This hook could have been easily used in an Elton John song or after the chorus in a Springsteen anthem. It is simple and straight forward, which is exactly the reason it is so appealing. It’s a melody that an entire stadium of people could sing along with after only hearing for the first time.

Then Lady Gaga presents her second hook. This chant is uniquely Gaga in its quirkiness and even more catching than the opening line. After a verse, a pre-chorus that draws back the texture we get the final hook in the chorus. As the chorus continues we hearing the opening line come in and like the glorious moment in “Tonight, Tonight” from West Side Story when Leonard Bernstein layers in songs on top of each other, the song opens up in sheer joy.

Yes, the lyrics are weird, but the themes are not.

This is a song about someone wanting a relationship even though she knows that there are bad things involved in being together. Instead of pushing this away, Lady Gaga embraces the bad possibilities, the bad romance because she simply wants this regardless of what other people tell her. She knows its not good for her but she wants it anyways. This is a song about taking a chance, not playing safe because as she sing, she doesn’t want to be friends, she wants something more.

Many songs in the this album express the message Lady Gaga has been expressing in her advocacy. Like “Edge Of Glory,” “Bad Romance,” carries the theme of accepting who people for who they are, good and bad. "Bad Romance" is about accepting what you want and who you are regardless of what other people tell you. It’s a feeling that things may be bad and may look bad but that doesn’t mean that have to be bad. “Bad Romance” is similar to songs like “He’s A Rebel,” about a girl wanting to be with someone that others say are bad.

Yes, this is an innocent and misguided viewpoint, but this is same viewpoint that gives us songs like “God Only Knows.” Lady Gaga captures this feeling of “I’m going to do what I want,” with strength and attitude. This is a pop song with the soul of a rock song because like all great rock music "Bad Romance" is about liberation and empowerment.

If you listen to the song and don’t know what I’m talking about, sing along and you will feel what I mean.

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