Why Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me" triumphs over Lady GaGa's "Born This Way."
By Alex Nagorski
By Alex Nagorski
Before we really get into this, allow me to preface this article by saying that I love Lady GaGa. When The Fame Monster first came out, I didn’t listen to any other album for weeks. I’ve seen her in concert twice and have tickets to see her again in April. I performed the entire “Bad Romance” dance in a hunter-green jumpsuit in front of 2,100 people. Trust me, I dig the Gagz.
That being said, Britney Spears has always been my number #1 pop diva. Since the very first day I heard “Baby One More Time” back at Tamarack Tennis Camp in New Hampshire in 1998, I’ve been sickly obsessed with everything about her.
I’ve gone to six Britney shows. I own her Vegas special on DVD and her coffee-table book, Stages. I’ve even read the novel she “wrote,” A Mother’s Gift. During the days when Britney was all bald and layered in Cheetoh dust, I stood by her side and argued that Blackout was one of the most progressive and influential pop albums in history. When MTV premiered the documentary, Britney: For The Record, I hosted a viewing party but wouldn’t let anyone talk unless it was a commercial break.
So last year when I heard that Britney and GaGa would be releasing new albums a few months apart from one another (Brit in March and GaGa in May), I immediately knew that critics and fans would pit the popstars against one another. GaGa is Britney’s ultimate competition. This isn’t like back in the days where it was just Britney vs. Christina – a simpler time when one clearly had a lifelong career ahead of her and the other one … well … made Burlesque.
Britney has always pushed the envelope with her music. She’s raised the bar so high with her degree of slick pop tunes that most have completely failed even attempting to reach for it. With the arrival of Lady GaGa, someone was finally worthy and able to grasp the precedent Britney had set.
In the time Britney has been on hiatus, GaGa’s stardom has skyrocketed. She has already achieved Britney’s status of being a household name literally wherever you are in the world. Now, with the releases of their albums’ lead singles, Britney’s “Hold It Against Me,” and GaGa’s “Born This Way,” the princesses of pop have stepped into the rink of a true celebrity death match.
(Britney Spears' music video for "Hold It Against Me")
“Hold It Against Me” pays homage to classic Britney while also pushing the boundaries of contemporary pop music and paving the path for an exciting future. By incorporating dubstep to her song, Britney is bringing an underground form of dance music into the mainstream. Like she did with previous hits such as “I’m A Slave 4 U” and “Toxic,” Britney is once again boldly redefining what pop music is capable of.
On the contrary, “Born This Way” challenges no musical conventions. It’s so safe, in fact, that thousands have responded negatively to how much of a carbon copy it is of Madonna’s 1989 hit, “Express Yourself.” Not to mention, the song itself is just BORING. It’s barely catchy enough to stay in your head after a few listens, and hardly worthy to compare to any of GaGa’s previous brilliant singles.
Appearing on The Tonight Show on Valentines Day, Lady GaGa was asked by Jay Leno about the allegations that she stole from Madonna. She dodged the question by simply saying that Madonna was a huge fan of “Born This Way,” and that Madge in fact sent her an e-mail giving her full blessing for the single. As it turns out, this was completely false.
Looking back at the VMAs in 2003 and a little song called “Me Against The Music,” it’s rather clear who the Queen of Pop endorses.
So on one side we have a song that takes risks and sets new musical standards, while on the other, we have a song that is being widely accused of plagiarism and whose credibility is being protected by lies. As far as the musicality of these two songs go, it’s a no-brainer that Britney hit a homerun while GaGa has released the weakest single of her career thus far.
The other debate that I’ve been hearing in regards to which one of these songs is superior is found in the lyrical content. Many are saying that GaGa deserves to go out on top because of her song’s “inspiring lyrics,” whereas Britney has just released another vapid club banger to dance to -- rather than take to heart.
My favorite lyric in GaGa's far too-preachy-for-comfort single? The part where she says, "safety," bookmarked by long pauses. Thanks for sharing your flatulence habits, GaGa.
I understand this point. However, I just can’t buy into what GaGa is feeding us anymore. I applaud her for her contributions to the GLBTQ community. She is a fantastic activist and inspiration for countless people. There’s no arguing that. But it has gotten to the point where I feel that her “love for the gays” has become as important to her as a way to market herself, as it is an important cause.
You can’t self-proclaim that you’ve written a “gay anthem.” An anthem becomes an anthem because its message is felt and leaves an impact on an entire community. To release the single declaring it as a “gay anthem” before anyone even hears it forces people to feel they should have a very specific reaction to it – even if they don’t.
(Lady GaGa's music video for "Born This Way")
Joe Waddell of the Orange County Equality Project says, “Britney Spars is a genuine gay icon. She is genuine in her affection for us and doesn’t need to exploit us as a marketing tool like some other current Madonna-like icon.” These comments comply with many complaints that if Lady GaGa were as true of an activist as she claims she is, she wouldn’t have partnered up with Target -- a chain widely criticized for their funding of anti-gay politicians and anti-gay causes -- to release a deluxe version of her album.
Britney has never had to take advantage of her fans to get on top. She’s never had to arrive at the Grammys in a giant egg (and lie about it!) and treat her entrance like a performance (rudely attempting to distract from literally every other artist present) to get to where she is. Sure, she’s turned heads for some scantily clad fashion choices she’s made, but she’s never had to force headlines by wearing a dress made of raw meat. My point is that where GaGa goes above and beyond begging to be edgy and new, Britney achieves that without having to try half as hard.
While both “Hold It Against Me” and “Born This Way” have already hit the #1 spot on the charts in the weeks of their respective releases, GaGa broke records with how fast her song topped the charts around the globe. However, “Born This Way” has dropped significantly in radio airplay, leaving many saying that the the hype of the single was stronger than the end result. How GaGa and Britney will compare in album sales and radio airplay in the long run is something only time can tell.
GaGa pretentiously declared that her album, also named Born This Way, would be “the greatest album of this decade.” Britney made no such promise about her album, Femme Fatale, because … welll … she doesn’t have to.
Originally published on Crazytown Blog