In the opening seconds of Lady Gaga's new video, "Born This Way," she declares, "this is the manifesto of Mother Monster." As we zero in on a galaxy in which the stars are arranged in the shape of a uterus and fallopian tubes, Gaga talks about "the beginning of a new race." We see her, feet in stirrups, giving birth to something. The singer also describes "the birth of evil," which is apparently represented by a guy tattooed to look like he has no skin. It's official: Lady Gaga has baby fever. The singer has gone from crying, "I'll follow you until you love me" to whispering, "how can I protect something so perfect?" She's a mom, you guys! A mom who loves to dance in her ass-crack revealing underwear.
Flash Gordon hijinks and Barbarella gimmicks aside, Gaga, like many artists, is exploring life and death. Not just the life and death of a human being, but the birth of a phenomenon, a pop star — and the death of popularity; the sputter of stardom. "Born This Way" self-consciously targets external influences: It's both an anthem for fans and a rebuttal for critics. It's a song, sung by Gaga, for other people. Unfortunately, many works of art are stronger when they deal with internal forces, conflict, turmoil and emotional pain. There's a purity in songs you sing for no one but yourself. So while "Born This Way" is highly entertaining and definitely danceable, aliens and prosthetic shoulder horns just don't tug at the heartstrings like "Bad Romance."