…music reviews: “Judas” Lady Gaga

“Judas” Lady Gaga (#10 Hot 100, Week of April 30, 2011)

(Un)Holy Gaga!

After last week’s less-than-emotive review of “Born This Way,” I’m ready to emote now.  The Lady on display in the second single from Born This Way is the one that the music world needs.  “Judas” is controversial, catchy, edgy, and just sideways enough to make you wonder whether there’s been a seismic shift in what is considered mainstream or whether Gaga is just making all her own rules and still owning the charts.

I’ll be honest.  This record gave me a few chill bumps.  That’s the third highest compliment I can give a song (behind spontaneous crying and spontaneous dancing).  The sonic landscape laid out here is one part “Bad Romance,” one part ’80s synth art.

The best parts of “Bad Romance,” which was already a lean, focused record, are distilled into even more potent riffs here.  The herky-jerky, disembodied angst of Human League and the goth-industrial backdrops popularized by Depeche Mode add color to the familiar “BR” sound, preventing Gaga from directly ripping herself off.

The tortured lyrics tread an uncomfortable line between romantic and religious ambivalence.  Of course, the Catholic Church and various self-designated gatekeepers of Christian-themed appropriateness have protested the song and the music video (even though the latter remains unreleased as of this writing).  Discussion-provoking lyrics apparently are a thorn in the side of several members of the Christian establishment.

But I digress.  Aside from “Paparazzi,” with its tragic pop death-march, this may be my favorite Lady Gaga creation yet.


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