Lady Gaga’s new album Born This Way transports me to a dark warehouse of flashing lights, flickering glow sticks, and an all night dance party where I’m wearing the tightest dress and highest heels and my body is perfect. I move against the waves of strangers, feeling the naughtiest I’ve ever felt as I sip champagne from a communal bottle shared by my closest friends. I have no work tomorrow, no looming responsibility, just the extravagance of the carefree now. And I dance until my feet bleed and then I dance some more.
A friend recently pointed out that the first single Born This Way is actually the weakest track on the album, and I immediately agreed. The song Born This Way has its purpose as an anthem for positivity and self acceptance, which is what Ms. Gaga is all about. But the rest of the album delivers that same message in a much more complex offering. Many of the other tracks you can almost picture being recorded in a vast abandoned chapel, Gaga and crew having snuck in at night and blackmailed the church choir to lend their divine chants.
But as I learned in the cover story of the June 2011 issue of Rolling Stone, most of the album was recorded on the road, in a tour bus equipped with a full studio. So as Gaga travelled the country, bringing the Monster Ball to the crevices of America, she didn’t spend the road trip napping or playing Xbox. Instead she created what is arguably her most innovative and mindblowing work to date.
So as I dozed off the other night to the dark industrial thumps of Bloody Mary and ScheiBe pumping though my headphones, I thought of her singing into all hours of the nights along dusty highways, and I dreamed I made a collage dedicated to the hardworking glam queen. I felt so inspired to pay homage to this face melting audio utopia. I then woke up and created this collage in her honor. A joy ride for her isn’t a silly trip with friends in a convertible with her arms in the air feeling the wind in her wig. Her joy ride is delivering her message of freedom to each and every fan personally. And we all stare in awe and thank her as we apply our eyeliner each morning, stomping our feet to the sounds of the globally liberating songbird.
Must Hear Tracks:
Heavy Metal Lover: “I want your whiskey mouth all over my blonde south. Red wine, cheap perfume, and a filthy pout.” “Dirty pony I can’t wait to hose you down.” “I could be your girl girl girl girl girl girl, but would you love me if I ruled the world.”
Bloody Mary: At 2:33 listen for the sinful echoey chanting “Gaga. Gaga. Gaaaaga”.
ScheiBe: The entire song makes you want to dirty dance with young German boys in illegal sex clubs.
Edge of Glory: Live on American Idol: I’ve included this video because I love the song and her performance on the American Idol finale reminded me of the cover of a gothic Harlequin romance novel, if one existed. Also, her little dance during the sax break reminds me of the dance off at the end of the movie Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which is my all time favorite movie. The blue lighting, the leap off a ledge…I actually hope this was in some way an homage to the greatest dance off in movie history. I’ve also included the video of the movie dance off below.
The following three photos from the Rolling Stone June 2011 spread are the foundation for the collage. The heart of my inspiration and of the collage is the flowy, earthy photo of Gaga in a bright yellow field. She is almost muted amidst the brillance of the surrounding wildlife. This photo could easily be the album art of a long forgotten 1970s folk singer, except when you look closely you can see a hint of fishnet stockings locked firmly beneath her frame. I then cut out her hair from the cover of the issue, as well as her hair from the leather jacket photo, and layered them over her hair from the meadow picture. I added the shoulder of the leather jacket and her sunglasses. I then continued building around the focal point of her face and hair, using clippings from the rest of the Rolling Stone issue, as well as Bob Dylan’s May 2011 Rolling Stone issue, an Anthropologie catalog, and a recent Vogue, bringing together sunny mother nature with leather-clad rebel yells.
Full collage: How I would have designed her cover of Rolling Stone.