Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-06-21


Lady Gaga: Born This Way (Streamline/Interscope/KonLive, 2011) First of all, avoid the "Special Edition." Of the three extra songs, only "The Queen" would be a decent B side, and the remixes are as unnecessary as usual. Even at normal length, moreover, this isn't up to The Fame or The Fame Monster. But both of those keep growing, and with its mad momentum and nutty thematics, this one could too--despite being laid down on tour trailed by 28 semis. Ever the non-Catholic, I let "Judas" and "Bloody Mary" slide while going all googly-eared for the hilarious "Hair," where the nimbus of every woman's vanity becomes the cutting edge of every woman's freedom, and "Americano," a marriage proposal to a Chicana in a flowered skirt that's as sincere and unreliable as The Fame Monster's "Alejandro," where the title inamorato keeps morphing into Fernando and Roberto. This lags seriously only on the one with unicorns in it, a no-no not even Gaga can safely defy, and a big closer that just doesn't take the whole effort over the top where it belongs. The country song in particular is a hoot, which reminds me that the title track wasn't inspired solely by "Express Yourself." Close your eyes on the refrain and you can almost hear Carl Perkins lining out "You've got the right string baby but the wrong yo-yo." A-

Pink: Greatest Hits . . . So Far!!! (LaFace/Jive, 2010) Nine of these 16 tracks are from albums with their own strong identities, including four from the 2001 policy statement Misundaztood, the rest of which holds up fine even without them. Normally, that would be too many. But the same four songs transfer nicely from that concept album to a best-of that salvages the pugnacious "So What," links "Trouble" to "Glitter in the Air," and adds two top-shelf Max Martin blends. It's where I will go for a shot of the longterm hitmaker rather than the 21-year-old who's finding herself in public. A-

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